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New green hydrogen MoUs for MENA region

Egypt signed seven green hydrogen and renewable energy memoranda of understanding (MoU) with international developers in late February, with an expected value of US$41 billion. 

The MoUs will see phased investment over a 10-year period for projects located within the Suez Canal Economic Zone. A US$12 billion pilot programme will be initiated followed by further investment of up to US$29 billion for subsequent phases.

Commenting at the signing, Dr Hala El-Said, Egypt’s Minister of Planning and Economic Development noted that the latest tranche of MoUs represents the next step for the Sovereign Fund of Egypt’s commitment to promoting the country as a regional hub for green energy. 

According to previous statements made by Egypt’s New and Renewable Energy Authority (Nrea), the country aims to produce up to 1.5 million tonnes of green hydrogen per annum by 2030, growing to 5.8 million tonnes by 2040.

The latest announcement follows a series of MoU and framework agreements signings for the development of green hydrogen made over the last two years with the new MoUs covering a variety of projects including green hydrogen production, green ammonia and other renewables. Details on project types, capacities and investment breakdown are, as yet, undisclosed. 

Partner companies include AmmPower (Canada), Gama Construction and Meridiam consortium (France), Gila Al Tawakol Electric (Egypt), Pash Global (UK), SK Eco Plant and CSCEC North Africa consortium (South Korea and China), Smartenergy (Switzerland) and United Energy Group (Hong Kong). 

Elsewhere in the region, Oman is also pursuing green hydrogen investment ambition with the government announcing ‘strong interest’ from global clean energy investors  in round two of its auction scheme for a new trio of land blocks in Dhofar Governorate.

According to Eng. Salim Nasser Al Aufi, Minister of Energy and Minerals, interest mirrored that of round one, which was held in 2021 and overseen by Hydrogen Oman (Hydrom). Conclusion of the second round is expected by end March 2024.

In 2023, Hydrom signed six investment agreements with a combined value in excess of US$38 billion supporting Oman’s green hydrogen production capacity goal of one million tonnes per annum by 2030, increasing to 3.75 million tonnes by 2040. This will require significant gearing up of relevant infrastructure with Hydrom committed to overseeing the delivery of common infrastructure, including hydrogen pipelines, water desalination systems and pipelines, grid infrastructure, and also storage.

Earlier this year, Jordan also inked a new green hydrogen project feasibility studies MoU. The agreement between Mass Group Holding Company and the kingdom’s  Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources will explore potential for annual production of 180,000 tonnes of green ammonia.

A total of 12 MoUs and one framework agreement with international and local investors interested in conducting necessary studies for the development of green hydrogen projects in Jordan have been signed, according to Saleh Al-Kharabsheh, Jordan’s Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources. The country is also planning to develop robust rules for investment in green hydrogen projects.

Speaking at February’s Hydrogen MENA 2024 conference, Francesco La Camera, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), highlighted the importance of prioritising local hydrogen production and usage ahead of focusing on export potential.

La Camera cited the building of local expertise, long-term employment catalysation prospects and development of a resilient and inclusive green hydrogen economy as the rationale for concentrating on the domestic landscape.