Green hydrogen is a window to redefine Africa-Australia and Africa-Australia-Europe relations.

The debate in Europe intensifies the global race for green hydrogen. Australia is already well-positioned to undertake major green hydrogen development projects at home and abroad.

Hydro Energy in Africa

Africa, like Australia, has abundant and cheap renewable energy resources, a small population and a lot of arable land. The northern and southern tropics have excellent solar (average 4.49kWh/kWp per day) and wind resources (180,000 TWh per year) for green hydrogen production.

Additionally, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have many of the minerals needed to manufacture solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles, batteries, electronics and biomass. South Africa alone contains 95% of platinum group metals (PGM). PGM catalysts are used in PEM electrolyzers and fuel cells for hydrogen production and are an important source of green hydrogen.

For hydropower, Africa has more than 38 gigawatts (GW) of hydropower potential – the largest untapped potential in the world. Currently, only about 11% of this capacity is used. Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have the greatest hydropower potential on the two major rivers (Nile and Congo) that flow between the two countries' borders. North African countries, especially Morocco, as well as countries such as Namibia, South Africa, Angola and Botswana are in green territory for hydrogen energy, given the vast amount of uncultivated land and proximity to ports.

Growth in Australia's Hydrogen Market

Australia is poised to become a major green hydrogen player in the world. It is investing $1.4 billion to build a hydrogen business that operates at a competitive price of less than $2 a kilogram, reducing emissions in the process as part of a long-term plan to reduce emissions.

Australia also works with other developing countries in the area of ​​hydrogen research, investment and export chain development. The most famous of these agreements is the HyGATE scheme signed by the Australian government and its German partners in 2021. Each country received $50 million and €50 million respectively to finance hydropower and value chain projects. Australia and Singapore have a similar agreement, a $30 million project to use hydrogen in the marine sector.

In 2018, Australia and Japan launched a trial to test the world's first liquid hydrogen train. It was named Suiso Frontier and successfully completed its first delivery on January 21, 2022. Other collaborations are underway with the UK for research development and with the US for better security measures.

On the one hand, Africa is a highly competitive market. However, it is on the cusp of a hydrogen market that will make Australia a world power. In addition, Australian politicians want to change the country's trade and investment sector, and Africa has been recognized by the United Nations as the only medieval population region in the world with a faster population growth in 2022. The timing is right to push Australia's green energy into Africa.

Africa-Australia Green Hydropower

As African countries and Australia both enjoy major mining connections, hydropower connections are also emerging.

In Mauritania, a framework agreement has been developed for one of the largest green hydropower projects in Africa. The name "AMAN" was signed on June 2, 2022 between the Mauritanian government and the powerful Newcastle-based Australian CWP Global. The agreement includes the development of a $40 billion green hydrogen project with a capacity of 30 gigawatts and the production of 1.7 million tonnes or 10 million tonnes of green hydrogen or ammonia per year for export. The project is expected to boost Mauritania's economy by 50-60% by 2035. It will also make green hydrogen more accessible in the region and potentially to European consumers.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Inga III hydropower project is considered by Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) as a source of green hydrogen. The Grand Inga project was awarded to a Chinese company, but in June 2021, the DRC government announced that Fortescue would complete the project. The group plans to invest as much as $1 billion a year in the project.

Fortescue's plan is to achieve net neutrality by 2030, including the production and use of green hydrogen. FMG chairman Andrew Forrest said the Inga III project would produce green hydrogen that would be exported to the world. Even in East Africa, the prospect of Inga III could be a game-changer—the Democratic Republic of the Congo has joined the East African Community, Africa's fastest-growing and most innovative economy.

In Djibouti, Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), backed by Fortescue, signed a framework agreement with the Djibouti government to explore the feasibility of producing green hydrogen in the region. Djibouti's Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Yonis Ali Guedi, said the agreement was a major contribution to social development, including job creation. A renewable energy feasibility study is underway.

A Win-Win Green Energy Superpower?

African countries have the capacity to create jobs and offer real capabilities to realize their economic potential. Australia is trying to diversify its economy and needs to become a green powerhouse. European countries are experimenting with different energy sources. The whole world is struggling to maintain a stable home.

The deep connection between the two countries of Africa and Australia, the three countries of Africa-Australia-Europe, provides a very important time. Unfortunately, however, Australia's new foreign minister, Henry Wong, has yet to visit the country.

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