THE Minister of Mines and Energy, Tom Alweendo, revealed that the country’s rail transportation, which currently operates on fossil fuels, consumes about 11 million litres of diesel per year – which is why the country is working on a project to use green hydrogen as fuel in rail transportation.
Alweendo said this at the recent launch of four German-Namibian green hydrogen pilot projects. One of these projects – the Green Hydrogen Diesel Dual-Fuel Locomotive Project – aims to develop the first hydrogen dual-fuel locomotives in Africa, allowing rail transportation to operate on green hydrogen as a source of energy.
“With the TransNamib fleet that is due for an upgrade, obviously an opportunity has been presented to us to use green hydrogen as a source of energy in our rail transportation,” Alweendo said.
This project is just one of four German-Namibian green hydrogen pilot projects that were officially launched on Wednesday. The other projects are the Daures Green Hydrogen Village project, the Green Hydrogen Application in the Port Environment project and the Green Hydrogen Plant Refuelling Station project.
Alweendo explained that the Daures Green Hydrogen Village project intends to develop Africa’s first Green Hydrogen Village that profiles hydrogen use and interrogates the feasibility of the village on a semi-industrial scale. The project, he revealed, will be executed in four phases, with the first two phases focusing on the proof of concept for the production of green hydrogen and ammonia as an efficient resource of nitrogen fertilisers in green schemes.
“Phases three and four will focus on providing an industrial level production for local consumption and international export,” Alweendo added.
The Green Hydrogen Application in the Port Environment Project aims to decarbonise port logistics, reduce Namport’s carbon footprint and use alternative fuels, such as green hydrogen, to allow the port operations to transition to low carbon operations.
“It is envisioned that this will be one of the first African maritime-focused projects to implement hydrogen-powered tug boats and also later explore the possibility of using hydrogen to power heavy duty port equipment, as well as being one of the first ports in Africa to supply green hydrogen for bunkering vessels and also refuelling equipment,” the minister explained.
The final pilot project, the Green Hydrogen Plant Refuelling Station, aims to produce ammonia at a Gigawatt scale. Alweendo said that feasibility studies identified Namibia as one of the top three countries in the world with the best solar energy potential. He explained that the project’s idea is therefore to convert energy into hydrogen and ammonia. The project, he added, also intends to create opportunities for the export of green hydrogen, the usage of green hydrogen as a clean fuel and its conversion into green chemicals.
The minister revealed that all four pilot projects, which are funded by Germany, intend to illustrate the viability of building a local green hydrogen economy in Namibia. This was reiterated by Germany’s Minister of Education and Research, Bettina Stark-Watzinger, who explained that the pilot projects are necessary to prove that the green hydrogen plants can operate in Namibia’s weather conditions.
“Namibia wants to export meaningful amounts of green hydrogen by 2030. The task now is to overcome technological hurdles on the path towards a hydrogen supply chain and to test out production or application in Namibia for the first time. And to do this under real life conditions, the plants must prove that they can run in very hot weather, high levels of solar radiation and sandy winds. This can only work with research. That is why we’re launching four German-Namibia pilot projects,” Stark-Watzinger explained.