07 Nov 2023, 13:05
Edgar Meza

Germany funds Africa’s first green ironworks in Namibia

Clean Energy Wire

The German government is supporting the establishment of Africa’s first green ironworks with a grant of 13 million euros. A consortium consisting of three German companies, CO2Grab, TS Elino and LSF, are overseeing the HyIron/Oshivela project in Windhoek, Nambia. The facility will produce green hydrogen that will reduce iron ore to iron in a climate-neutral manner. The direct reduced iron, or sponge iron, that is produced can then be shipped to steelworks in Germany. “Namibia has ideal conditions for producing green hydrogen with the help of wind and solar energy,” said economy and climate action minister Robert Habeck. “Since Namibia has large iron ore deposits, green hydrogen can be used to produce green iron cost-effectively in the immediate vicinity of the mining sites - an important preliminary product also for the decarbonization of steel production in Germany.”

HyIron/Oshivela will be the first industrial climate-neutral iron production site on the African continent, the German economy and climate ministry (BMWK) stated. Traditionally, iron is reduced by adding coke from hard coal in a blast furnace, which releases a lot of CO₂. Steel production is currently responsible for around an eighth of global CO₂ emissions and contributes significantly to climate change. A direct reduction plant does not require coke and instead uses natural gas or hydrogen as a reducing agent. “The project offers the opportunity to build a green hydrogen economy in Namibia, but also to decarbonize downstream value chains,” said Rainer Baake, Germany’s special representative for German-Namibian climate and energy cooperation. In a water-scarce country like Namibia, it is also particularly important that water is recycled in such projects, Baake added. The start of production is planned for the end of 2024. In the first phase, the plant will produce 15,000 tonnes of direct reduced iron annually.

The German government recently updated its national hydrogen strategy to further speed up the market ramp-up for a hydrogen economy as  part of its aim to become a global leader in the sector. Namibia, a former German colony, plays a central role in these efforts. In cooperation with German investors, the southwestern African state's government commissioned Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest green hydrogen production project. Namibia's cabinet approved the entry into a 10-billion dollar project to build wind farms and photovoltaic plants with a total capacity of seven gigawatts (GW) to produce green ammonia, a hydrogen derivative which can be transported more easily.

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