Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Irena sees Morocco as a future green hydrogen giant

Written by Eric Apim on Tuesday, January 18th 2022 à 12:20 | Read 577 times

The renewable energy policy - here photovoltaic in Ouarzazate - makes Morocco one of the best equipped countries to develop the production of green hydrogen for its domestic market and export (photo:F.Dubessy)
The renewable energy policy - here photovoltaic in Ouarzazate - makes Morocco one of the best equipped countries to develop the production of green hydrogen for its domestic market and export (photo:F.Dubessy)
MOROCCO. According to the report "Geopolitics of the energy transformation: the hydrogen factor " of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), "the rapid growth of the global hydrogen economy can lead to major geo-economic and geopolitical upheavals and a wave of new interdependencies". Published on 15 January 2022, the 118-page document states that energy produced from fossil fuels (grey hydrogen), renewable electricity via electrolysis (green hydrogen) or natural gas (blue hydrogen) will "change the geography of energy trade and regionalise energy relations, suggesting the emergence of new centres of geopolitical influence based on hydrogen production and use, as traditional oil and gas trade declines".

The Abu Dhabi-based agency estimates that more than 30% of hydrogen could be traded across borders by 2050, a larger share than natural gas today. As a result, countries that have not traditionally traded energy are beginning to build bilateral energy relationships around hydrogen, creating new players and new categories of importers and exporters on the global stage. "More than 30 countries and regions are already planning active cross-border trade today," the report says.

"Some countries that expect to be importers are already deploying dedicated hydrogen diplomacy, such as Japan and Germany," the paper says. Fossil fuel exporters (such as Australia, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) are increasingly looking to clean hydrogen as an attractive way to diversify their economies. Although "hydrogen will not make up for the loss of revenue from oil and gas", Irena says.

Morocco could become an exporter of green hydrogen

Hydrogen could provide 12% of the world's energy needs by 2050. According to figures provided by the data site Natural Earth, in 2020 the European Union (including the UK) consumed 5.8 million tonnes, Egypt 1.4 million tonnes, the US 11.3 million tonnes and China 23.9 million tonnes.

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Morocco and Egypt the only countries in the Mena region with a hydrogen strategy

Hydrogen demand will multiply by 2050 (graph: Irena - Sources: BloombergNEF (2021a); ETC (2021); Hydrogen Council (2021); IRENA (2021a); IEA, (2021a))
Hydrogen demand will multiply by 2050 (graph: Irena - Sources: BloombergNEF (2021a); ETC (2021); Hydrogen Council (2021); IRENA (2021a); IEA, (2021a))
Morocco established a National Hydrogen Commission in 2019 and published a green hydrogen roadmap in January 2021. Since then, this energy is considered a key growth factor for the national economy. By 2030, Rabat plans to have a local market of 4 terawatt hours (TWh) and an export market of 10 TWh. This ambition will require the construction of 6 GW of new renewable energy capacity requiring the creation of over 15,000 direct and indirect jobs.
With Egypt (100 megawatts of electrolysers installed to supply green hydrogen), Morocco is the only country in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region to have a hydrogen strategy.
In the south of the European Union, encouraged by the hydrogen plan developed in July 2020 by the European Commission (40 gigawatts of blue hydrogen to be installed by 2030), France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Croatia are also committed to this path.

"The surge in gas prices in Europe could accelerate the transition to clean energy and the adoption of green hydrogen as an alternative to oil and gas". However, demand is only expected to take off in the mid-2030s, when this new energy will be cost-competitive with fossil hydrogen on a global basis. Irena estimates the technical potential to develop green hydrogen at a price of $1.5 per kg by 2050 at 88 exajoules (EJ) for Europe, 2023 for the Mena region and 2,715 for sub-Saharan Africa.

"It is imperative to allow African countries, which have contributed little to historical greenhouse gas emissions, to develop, while recognising the need to address the climate emergency. International cooperation, including South-South cooperation, will be essential to mobilise resources and know-how at a scale and speed commensurate with the needs of Africa's economies, communities and people," comments Francesco La Camera, Irena's Director General, in the introduction to the report.

Read Irena's report "Geopolitic of the energy transformation: the hydrogen factor "


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