Green Hydrogen: Blessing or Curse?

Harald Schütt

The debate around green hydrogen production in Namibia, particularly the Hyphen project in the Tsau //Khaeb National Park (TKNP), poses a significant dilemma: the preservation of a pristine national park versus the potential creation of tens of thousands of jobs.

The decisions around the development of this emergent sector holds profound implications for the nation’s economic growth and environmental integrity.

In 2017, the Namibia Household Income and Expenditure Survey (NHIES) published a report in which data on income, expenditure and living conditions of Namibian households were collected.

The NHIES survey found that Namibia’s population was estimated to be 2 280 716 at the time, with 517 648 households.

This report added that the majority of the population (53%) lived in rural areas, while 47% lived in urban areas.

The survey indicated that approximately 88% of the Namibian population spend nearly all their income on immediate needs, with inflation exacerbating this situation, leaving little room for savings or investment.

Rural populations and the urban poor are especially vulnerable to climate change, experiencing hunger due to the rising costs of commercially available foodstuffs and erratic rain patterns, jeopardising their capacity to produce their own food.

Namibia’s economic challenges call for the need of innovative interventions from all stakeholders, particularly the state. Hence, the promise of the green hydrogen sector creating jobs, potentially alleviating poverty and unemployment, would be a welcome boost.

However, politicians must weigh the benefits of job creation against the preservation of national parks.


Concerns over habitat disruption and species endangerment are valid and must be addressed through robust mitigation strategies, strict regulatory frameworks and enforcement thereof.

As thousands of young and old jobseekers hope to be absorbed in the labour market, many are hopeful about the sector.

Nonetheless, it is crucial that Namibia perpetually balances the two sides.

Namibia’s unique conditions for wind and solar power make it an ideal location for green hydrogen production, leveraging renewable inputs like the sun, wind and ocean – without depleting finite resources. Moreover, the country has a history of unjust practices against most of its people, and the majority remain living in destitute circumstances.

Economic prosperity in Namibia should be centred around supporting green hydrogen in finding solutions on ways to establish and manage the emerging sector to maximise benefits for the largest possible number of Namibians.

This sector can also empower the youth with skills and knowledge essential for sustainable development.


The argument on the park’s pristine value cannot be dismissed, but neither can the weight of the opportunity of igniting the green hydrogen sector under the country’s present circumstances.

Furthermore, the argument that fossil fuels are cheaper ignores the true cost of environmental degradation, but calculating the impact of climate change in view of current unequal socio-economic equity can reveal the hidden costs of development and prosperity.

Green hydrogen production can position Namibia, not only as a global leader in decarbonisation efforts, but also as a pioneer in the sustainable development of the nation.

Developing the green hydrogen sector presents opportunities for global cooperation, knowledge transfer and capacity building.

International partnerships can help Namibia access cutting-edge technologies and expertise, fostering a robust and competitive green hydrogen industry.

These open up prospects for foreign direct investments in other sectors of the economy, secondary to green hydrogen, expanding more pan-African growth opportunities.

Green hydrogen is more than an alternative energy storage technology; it is a valuable channel for transforming Namibia’s economic future.

Namibia must seek solutions to preserving environmental integrity, like in the TKNP, while working towards achieving economic growth.

By investing in and embracing green hydrogen, Namibia can achieve a balanced approach that safeguards its natural heritage and fosters progress.

The benefits of green hydrogen offer a chance to improve future reporting by the NHIES by extending across Namibian society, combating elitism, climate change, inflation, global competition, population growth and socio-ecological degradation.

This will require sacrifices on the side of pristine natural habitats to the advantage of the Namibian people, particularly the youth.

This is not just a choice between jobs and nature; it is a vision for a future where economic growth and environmental preservation coexist harmoniously.

By understanding and sustainably harnessing green hydrogen’s true potential, Namibia can build a prosperous nation that leads in sustainable development and renewable energy, leaving a legacy of resilience and innovation for generations to come.

  • * Harald Schütt is an energy expert and writes in his personal capacity.

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