Hyphen CEO Marco Raffinetti
Namibia’s green hydrogen industry will be at the forefront of driving global decarbonisation says the Chief Executive Officer of Hyphen Hydrogen Energy (Pty) Ltd, Marco Raffinetti.
Hyphen Hydrogen Energy is the company earmarked to pioneer the scale-up of hydrogen production in Namibia, having been awarded preferred bidder status at COP26 last November, 2021.
“What we are trying to do – together with the government of Namibia – is not just craft a project, what we are trying to do is to craft an industry… an industry that is not just important to Namibia, but important to the globe as we drive decarbonisation,” says Raffinetti during a conversation on the IJGlobal podcast – Infra Dig.
IJGlobal is an infrastructure journal and project finance magazine which provides market leading intelligence for the energy and infrastructure finance industry.
The US$10 billion Southern Corridor Development Initiative project is being driven by the Namibian government in an endeavour to lead hydrogen production in the region, create 15,000 jobs in the country, and – at full development – produce 350,000 metric tonnes of green hydrogen per annum.
These hydrogen ambitions will be powered by 5GW of renewable energy generation capacity and 3GW of electrolyser capacity on land owned by the government, with the option to scale up dramatically.
Raffinetti says “an enormous amount” of work has so far been done on the project.
“Personally, this is the most ambitious and important project that I have had the privilege to work on,” he says.
Raffinetti believes that ultimately, Namibia could house up to 50 similarly sized hydrogen projects.
“Namibia is the second least populated country in the world. It is the thirty-fifth largest country by land mass. On top of that, you have some of the best solar and wind resources in the world. And those are the ingredients you need,” he says.
He emphasises that “working together with the government is critical to unlocking this venture. With a country of only 2, 5 million people, seldom can you work on one single project that can have such an enormous change in trajectory for a country.
Since COP26 Hyphen has been busy assembling a team to deliver the project and is currently seeking to move on to “awarded bidder” status which relies on the conclusion of legal agreements with the government.
“Because this is a nascent industry and we are trying to do something incredibly ambitious, the discussion with government has been about how we enable this industry,” Raffinetti says.
This stage of the process is all the more important as Namibia has every intention of scaling up hydrogen production in years to come.
“Ultimately, Namibia and the world is not successful if we have one project, we need to have 100s of these projects – 1,000s of these projects – similarly scaled in order to have any impact on carbon reductions,” he adds.
Namibia’s green hydrogen project will represent the largest single foreign direct investment into the country.
“It truly is of an enormous scale. And project financing we believe will play an integral role in financing the project. We don’t think we will get there without project finance,” says Raffinetti. “The really interesting discussions we are starting to get into with lenders is around the government support mechanisms – not only Namibian government support mechanisms, but also external support mechanisms driven particularly by the Europeans who are looking to drive the climate agenda… but also (Joe) Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act that has just been passed,” he adds.