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08.07.2024 By: Clemens Finkbeiner-Dege

Artikel Nummer: 50324

Namibia’s new treasure

Hydro dreams in a desert state. A ’research trip 3.0’ is on the list of journeys ITJ correspondent Clemens Finkbeiner-Dege still wants take. The goal would be to explore the African littoral state Namibia. The country, about twice the size of Germany, seduces visitors with grandiose and sparsely populated landscapes. Both countries are working on projects for the transport of the future.

Namibia is a desert state without any rainfall worthy of the name, ergo it has hardly any agricultural activity. The country is also poorly endowed with rivers that carry water all year round – not even the Zambezi, which forms a border in the Caprivi Strip in the extreme northeast, can make up for this. The few reservoirs the country has represent but a drop in the ocean.


Past and future


On its western shores the country has an extensive coastline, more than 1,500 km long, where the Namib Desert meets up with the Atlantic Ocean. There’s very little commercial or business activity there in this land of captivating nature and colours – with the exception of Walvis Bay, the largest port in the country.


The maritime gateway’s cargo volume of 8 million t in the fiscal year ending on 31 March 2024 was mainly fed by fishing and ore exports (uranium ore, with lithium also playing a role more recently). The diamond mines are in a different league.


It’s here at Walvis Bay where the future of Namibia starts – not far from where the seafarer Diogo Cão marked what he considered to be a conquest of the Portuguese crown with a stone cross in 1485. The innocent name ‘Hyphen’ marked the start of a German-Namibian hydrogen and ammonia centre – handling ‘green’ hydrogen (H2), of course. The consortium’s main partner from the German side is Enertrag, an experienced group.


“Ideal conditions”


Germany’s minister for economic affairs, Robert Habeck of the Green Party, was full of advance euphoria when looking for a partner. “Namibia has ideal conditions to produce low-cost and climate-friendly green hydrogen, with the help of wind and solar energy.


This opens up completely new economic prospects for the country and contributes to the development of an international hydrogen market. We want to contribute to this and accelerate the development of the green hydrogen economy in Namibia.” This all sound rather good. Everyone knows that German will also benefit from the huge project.


In five years the industrial consortium expects to produce 300,000 t of green hydrogen and to have built up 3 GW of electrolysis capacity and 5 GW of wind and solar power at the same time. For comparison, the typical output of a nuclear power plant is around 1 GW.


Developing transport infrastructure


A dual-fuel railway (hydrogen or diesel) is under construction to transport the fuel of the future. In the port of Walvis Bay itself a new Belgian-assisted H2 project was launched recently.


For port operations, a tug powered by green hydrogen will be built, the gas will be produced on a production site in the port area, and specific H2 infrastructure will be built around it.


That’s not all either. Further south a national energy centre is being built in the pretty town of Lüderitz. These activities have been planned as flanking projects for the Walvis Bay undertaking.


It is better to start the journey today than tomorrow, but first you have to prepare. Plan vaccinations, an international driving license is recommended. In this country a tourist is helpless without a car – usually a four-wheeled vehicle with a diesel engine and two spare tires.



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