Namibia, Belgium commit to green-hydrogen dream

PRE-INAUGURATED … Namibia’s first green-hydrogen facility, Cleanergy, was pre-inaugurated yesterday, in the pres- ence of president Nangolo Mbumba and King Philippe. Photo: Adam Hartman
… N$3b plant launched

Namibia and Belgium have committed to working together to drive the establishment of a green hydrogen hub set to improve trade relations between the two countries.

During a visit to the green hydrogen plant at Walvis Bay yesterday, president Nangolo Mbumba told Belgian King Philippe that Namibia’s green hydrogen vision, as pioneered by the late president Hage Geingob, is not longer just a dream.

The two leaders inaugurated the N$3 billion green hydrogen facility behind Dune 7.

The joint venture between Namibia’s Ohlthaver and List (O&L) Group and Belgium’s CMB.TECH started in 2021.

“We are talking about things nobody could dream about – fuelling a truck, a bus, a train and even ships with green hydrogen and green ammonia,” Mbumba said.

He paid homage to those who contributed to Namibia’s independence and development, specifically to Geingob.

“Were it not for him, we would not have had the courage to talk to bigger people, to talk about having employment in a new field,” Mbumba said.

King Philippe highlighted the connection between Belgium and Namibia, not just in producing green hydrogen, but also in having shared values for environmental preservation, and a shared commitment to achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

The Cleanergy project, described by the king as a “groundbreaking demonstration of pioneering hydrogen production in Africa”, showcases how green hydrogen and ammonia can be efficiently produced using renewable energy sources.

O&L executive chairman Sven Thieme said the joint venture is a part of O&L’s broader vision, which includes projects like constructing the largest floating solar plant in Germany and various other initiatives in Namibia.

“We aim to decarbonise our businesses and leverage this technology to foster significant local development,” Thieme said about the impact of Cleanergy’s operations.

This includes the creation of the world’s first hydrogen academy in Namibia, which aims to become a centre of expertise and knowledge for Africa, with a focus on upskilling local young people by merging local talent with global expertise.

CMB chief executive Alexander Saverys said the selection of Namibia for this venture was no coincidence.

“Namibia offers political stability and an abundance of renewable resources, such as solar and wind, making it an ideal location for producing green hydrogen,” he said.

“Green ammonia produced here can be used both as a fertiliser and as a fuel for industrial applications, showcasing the versatility of green hydrogen technology,” Saverys said.

Namibia’s green hydrogen commissioner James Mnyupe said over 400 jobs can be created through the ongoing development of nine hydrogen projects nationwide.

“These industries range from the production of ammonia and hydrogen to direct reduced iron, and even bunkering shipping fuel. All these new activities are emerging from the secondary sector,” Mnyupe said.

He detailed the national green hydrogen scholarship programme, which has already issued over 180 scholarships for international study, complemented by a significant research and development component.

“Belgian universities are partnering with the University of Namibia to enhance our educational framework, converting conventional diesel trucks to hydrogen, and crafting the machinery right here at home,” Mnyupe said.

Belgian energy minister Tinne van der Straeten said the key contributions Belgium is poised to make towards this project include research, development, skills, training and capacity building.

He also announced an upcoming study tour in Belgium for a delegation of Namibian professionals.

This initiative will focus on technical aspects of green hydrogen technology such as certification, regulation and framework, which are essential components of the energy transition.

Minister of mines and energy Tom Alweendo highlighted the practical outcomes expected from this international cooperation.

“When we signed the memorandum of understanding in Glasgow, we promised to transform it into concrete actions rather than just a symbolic gesture. Today, we see that transformation happening, moving from concept to reality,” he said.

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