Wednesday, January 18, 2023
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NewsNew strategy earmarks eastern Ethiopia for green hydrogen investment corridor

New strategy earmarks eastern Ethiopia for green hydrogen investment corridor

Six countries await green light to invest in the sector

A new taskforce pooled from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Water and Energy (MoWE) is finalizing a new policy and strategy document on Green Hydrogen, a new energy frontier for Ethiopia.

Officials hope to embark on green hydrogen harvesting projects this year.

Green hydrogen is a modern technology that is used to harvest energy from clean water. The energy is harvested from the hydrogen split from water. But energy and clean water are required for the harvest. Exceptionally, green hydrogen energy can be stored, transported, and exported.

The strategy identified the eastern part of Ethiopia as the host for such investment projects.

“The whole eastern Ethiopian part is earmarked for the green hydrogen energy investment area. There is sufficient underground water in the area. There is an electric grid in the area, linked to Djibouti. There is also a separate off-grid energy project at Aysha, Somali region. Once the investors are allowed, they can utilize the electricity supply and underground water in this area,” Habtamu Itefa (PhD), Minister of MoWE, told The Reporter. “We also have a railway system to transport the stored hydrogen energy to Djibouti and then export it.”

There are a number of countries utilizing the technology. Especially following the global crisis in fossil fuels, there is an emerging trend of shifting to green hydrogen. The ministry planned to use hydropower energy to harvest green hydrogen energy. Green hydrogen energy can also be stored and exported. Though energy cannot be stored, this can be done with green hydrogen energy technology. The biggest advantage is that it is carbon free and is suitable to transport energy without a huge investment in electric transmission infrastructure.

“Other countries are utilizing ocean water to extract green hydrogen energy. But those countries use fossil fuel to harvest green hydrogen energy. Ours will be fully green energy, from end-to-end. Ethiopia has sufficient energy and water to produce hydrogen energy. Ethiopia is best positioned for green hydrogen energy harvest,” said Habtamu.

The green hydrogen energy projects will also enable Ethiopia to produce ammonia, which is highly needed to produce fertilizer. Hydrogen and oxygen, the byproducts of the green energy process, will be used for the fertilizer industry and oxygen production for the health sector.

“There is huge fertilizer demand following the lowland wheat initiatives launched by the PM. So we expect to start local production of fertilizer and also oxygen for health institutions, side by side with green hydrogen energy. So the decomposed water is used for fertilizer and oxygen production. The three sectors: green energy, fertilizer, and oxygen, are interlinked,” Habtamu said.

Leading green hydrogen technology investors from six countries are already vying for eastern Ethiopia. German, Turkish, Saudi Arabian, and American companies have requested to invest in the area, and investors from six countries are already in the process of starting their projects. Some of the investors are interested in directly investing by themselves, while others are considering public-private partnerships (PPP), according to the minister.

The technology is capital intensive and needs sufficient financing, according to experts.

“Our studies identified Ethiopia has huge potential. Many countries are interested in investing in this. Currently, we are conducting detailed studies to determine how much energy we want from green hydrogen, export, and how we can replace fossil fuel. Currently, we are preparing various documents regarding how many hydrogen projects, fertilizer projects, and oxygen production investments we need. The amount of investment needed will also be determined soon,” said Habtamu.

The policy, strategy, and all project documents will be finalized this year. “We hope to start awarding the projects to foreign investors this year,” added the minister. 

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