In efforts to cut over-dependence on fossil fuel, conversations around alternative energy from cleaner and purer sources continue to resonate in the energy industry and around the world.
The International Renewable Energy Agency or IRENA has in a statement today, said that ‘Hydrogen Economy hints at new global power dynamics’ with potential to change global energy market structure; this is why Africa must begin to invest and embrace hydrogen to become an emerging exporter continent.
In the wake of “climate urgency and countries’ commitments to net zero, IRENA estimates hydrogen to cover up to 12% of global energy use by 2050.”
The statement quoted Francesco La Camera, the Director-General of IRENA, saying: “Hydrogen could prove to be a missing link to a climate-safe energy future. Hydrogen is clearly riding on the renewable energy revolution with green hydrogen emerging as a game-changer for achieving climate neutrality without compromising industrial growth and social development."
The statement quickly pointed out, "Hydrogen is not a new oil. And the transition is not a fuel replacement but a shift to a new system with political, technical, environmental, and economic disruptions.”
The report indicated that there are potentials for Africa in the Hydrogen Economy, though with a caveat that “many countries (like those in Africa) will need technology transfers, infrastructure and investment at scale,” which portends a challenge for the continent.
“While countries such as Chile, Morocco, and Namibia are net energy importers today, they are set to emerge as green hydrogen exporters. Realising the potential of regions like Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, and Oceania could limit the risk of export concentration,” it said.
“With international cooperation, the hydrogen market could be more democratic and inclusive, offering opportunities for developed and developing countries alike.”
IRENA estimates that “over 30 per cent of hydrogen could be traded across borders by 2050,” representing a higher market share than natural gas in today’s market.
The inevitability of a shift to cleaner energy sources was highlighted in the report, adding that fossil fuel exporters, including Australia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, are “increasingly considering clean hydrogen an attractive way to diversify their economies."
Africa, and indeed countries, must evolve “broader economic transition strategies” as hydrogen will not compensate for losses in oil and gas revenues, it said.
”Countries with ample renewable potential could become sites of green industrialisation, using their potential to attract energy-intensive industries. Furthermore, having a stake in the hydrogen value chain can boost economic competitiveness,” IRENA said.
However, it warned that more advanced countries must know that “shaping the rules, standards and governance of hydrogen could lead to geopolitical competition or open a new era of enhanced international cooperation.
It said assisting developing countries to deploy green hydrogen technologies and advance hydrogen industries could prevent the widening of a global decarbonisation divide and promote equity and inclusion - creating local value chains, green industries, and jobs in renewable-rich countries.