Green hydrogen made in South Africa - Dr. Solomon Agbo in an interview with Mining Weekly
Green hydrogen plays a crucial role in the decarbonization of the energy sector worldwide. To produce green hydrogen, for example, green energy sources are needed in sufficient quantities. Some countries therefore need to cooperate with regions that can produce enough green energy not only for themselves but also for export. The project "H2Atlas-Africa" is intended to provide support here. In an interview with "Mining Weekly" Dr. Solomon Nwabueze Agbo explained the project and especially the advantages of green hydrogen.
Southern Africa is one of the areas of the world whose potential for producing green hydrogen is being investigated as part of the H2Atlas-Africa project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Local scientists are collecting data on the conditions that are central to hydrogen production. These are for example related to solar and wind energy availability, , access to water, but also the political and social ramifications. The data obtained in this way is analyzed at Forschungszentrum Jülich and finally compiled into an atlas of potential. Using this map, regions can be identified that are particularly well suited for the conversion of green energy into hydrogen.
In an interview with the South African newspaper "Mining Weekly" the coordinator of the project, Dr. Agbo, reported on the advantages of green hydrogen. "Green hydrogen is an important element of the energy transition. Produced from green energy sources, hydrogen is also emission-free. The use of this energy carrier is very diverse. From the mobility sector to the chemical industry and private households, hydrogen can be used as an energy source".
Asked about South Africa's qualifications for the production of green hydrogen, Agbo drew a positive conclusion: "Southern Africa not only has sufficient sunshine and wind, it already has numerous green energy sources. Nevertheless, there is great potential for expanding the infrastructure, for example to be able to export green energy in the future". A direct switch from conventional energy sources to 100 percent green energy will therefore still take some time. This applies not only to Southern Africa, but to many countries around the world, because in order to switch completely to green energy, the necessary facilities must be built first.
"This is also the reason why cooperation is so important in this context," explained Solomon Agbo, "In countries like Germany, for example, the conditions for wind and solar energy are not optimal. Other countries, on the other hand, have enough sun and wind, and could produce enough green energy not only for themselves but also for export. A partnership between such countries is therefore obvious." What is important in such a partnership is that both sides will benefit from it. The top priority of the H2 AtlasAfrica project, which is funded by the BMBF with 5.7 million euros, is therefore that the population of the producing country first benefits from the generated electricity.
In order for cooperation between different countries to function optimally, political and social consent is also central. At the end of the interview, Dr. Solomon Nwabueze Agbo emphasized that education is very important. "Acceptance among the population and within the political class is an important aspect of such projects. Teaching people what advantages such a project has for them and their country or, for example, how exactly the technology works, is an effective way of achieving this".
About the H2 Atlas Africa project
The BMBF project H2 Atlas Africa started in April 2020. In the first phase, the conditions of 15 West African countries is being examined. Strong partners in this context are the experts of the "West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use" (WASCAL) . Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH is the lead technical partner with a team of nearly twenty scientists from her several institutes actively working on the project.
In the next step, the potential of several countries in southern Africa will be analyzed. Here too, German scientists can count on the support of their South African partners. The colleagues from the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) in particular are a great help.
The interview and the article on the topic are available on the Mining Weekly website.