Egypt’s green hydrogen plans met with keen interest by German industry
Plans by Egypt’s government and other governments in the region to make northern Africa and the Middle East (MENA) a major exporter of green hydrogen raise hopes within the German industry to find a reliable long-term replacement for fossil gas from Russia, business weekly WirtschaftsWoche reported. Comparative cost advantages for renewable power production have greatly spurred investments in wind and solar power in the MENA region in the past few years, and projects for green hydrogen production in Egypt alone are totaling some 100 billion dollars. If all projects are implemented, the country could produce up to 3.6 million tonnes of green hydrogen per year, more than a third of what the European Union plans to import by 2030, WirtschaftsWoche wrote. “The MENA-region is capable of producing green hydrogen at a cost of a little more than one dollar per kilogram,” said Katharina Reiche, head of German government’s hydrogen council, which would make carbon-free gas cheaper than grey hydrogen produced with natural gas. However, exports from Egypt are unlikely to take place before 2025, when the country plans to open a green hydrogen production facility that can convert the gas into ammonia for shipping. Transporting green hydrogen through pipelines would be a cheaper option, but infrastructure for this is still lacking, the article said. Several projects to connect the eastern MENA-region with Europe are already planned and according to hydrogen council head Reiche, “85 percent of [Europe’s] gas grid can be converted into hydrogen pipelines to save a lot of investments.” Steelmaker ThyssenKrupp hopes to directly source hydrogen from Egypt to decarbonise its factories in Germany. However building the pipelines or power transmission lines would take up to five years, ThyssenKrupp Egypt CEO Andreas Becker told the newspaper.
The collapse of fossil fuel trading between Europe and Russia following the latter’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted Germany’s government and individual companies to urgently search for new sources for energy imports. The MENA-region has been a key target for these ambitions and the German government already signed several agreements with governments in the region to greatly increase energy trading in the future. Green hydrogen is projected to cover a large part of German energy demands in the future but for the most part will have to be imported, as the country lacks sufficient space for enough renewable power installations to produce the required amounts of the carbon-free gas.