Philip Mshelbila, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria LNG Limited has said that there is a need for an “affordable storage breakthrough” to propel hydrogen as a game-changer for Nigeria and Africa.
He said that technological advancements, particularly in battery technology, are critical to seizing the opportunities presented by this clean energy resource and shaping a sustainable future for the continent.
The NLNG boss made this known at the panel session titled, “Renewable Energy and Natural Capital: Accelerating Green Growth” at the 2023 Africa Investment Forum (AIF) in Marrakech, Morocco.
“Where we are now is just completely inefficient and it makes a lot of the energy forms we have underperformed. The available technology is too expensive, its cost,” he said.
According to the CEO, we need the technology to make it cheaper but also to make it smaller, and to make it more efficient.
“Technological breakthroughs are still going to change the view of the future. Because some of these breakthroughs will completely change the dynamics of the energy mix of the future and even within five years, something is going to come through that’s going to change the picture completely.”
Hydrogen has gained prominence amid the global pursuit of decarbonisation and energy security. Many major infrastructure projects are considering transportation in the form of ammonia, a safer and more cost-effective method for exporting hydrogen supplies in large volumes.
Rystad Energy’s projections indicate that 174 export terminals will primarily focus on converting hydrogen into ammonia by 2035, accounting for 62 percent of total exported volumes, or about 13.5 million tonnes per annum (tpa).
According to the estimation of the Oslo-based think tank, Africa will contribute 40.7 million tpa and Australia with 35.9 million tpa based on announced projects as global clean ammonia exports are set to surge to 121 million tpa by 2050.
However, African analysts at the panel session have argued that domestic consumption needs to be met before exportation.
“Moving hydrogen is hard. Why would you do that? Use it where you are,” said James Mwangi, CEO of Africa Climate Ventures.
According to him, Africa is still thinking as if hydrogen would be produced on the continent and then sent to existing industrial centres around the world.
“We need to learn to understand a world in which energy is hard to move to play to Africa’s strengths and allows us to say that Africa is not just along for the ride.
“We are on the fastest path to cutting global emissions just by increasing our share of production and that means understanding these technologies, understanding why it’s in our interests to be thinking about pure export versus import, recognising that things like hydrogen are partly a storage solution as well,” he said.