EU to sign hydrogen deal with Namibia to offset reliance on Russian energy

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The European Union is planning to sign a deal with Namibia to support the country's 'green' hydrogen sector and boost European imports of the fuel as the bloc works to reduce its dependence on Russian energy.

Hydrogen has long been touted as an environment-friendly alternative to fossil fuels. While it has seen some uptake in the European Union – primarily in heavy industry and transportation – high costs and a lack of infrastructure have limited consumption of the gas, with the fuel covering just 2 percent of the bloc's energy needs.

Most of the EU consumes so-called "grey" or "blue" hydrogen. Producing it requires gas, which drives up costs and emissions.

That has made easier access to 'green' hydrogen – made using renewable energy – a priority.

In May, the EU's energy strategy set a goal of importing at least 10 million tonnes of 'green' hydrogen by 2030, with another 10 million tonnes to be produced within the bloc.

EU, Namibia tight-lipped on details of the deal

Under the plan, the European Union will sign a memorandum of understanding with Namibia on hydrogen and minerals at the UN Climate Conference due to take place in Egypt in November.

The director-general of Namibia's National Planning Commission, Obeth Kandjoze, has reported that work is underway for a deal on 'green' hydrogen, but did not comment on minerals.

The European Commission has declined to comment on the possible deal, but said it was working on 'green' hydrogen projects in Namibia.

The officials did not comment on the costs associated with transporting the fuel.

Memoranda of understanding (MoUs) are preliminary agreements and usually carry few details about import volumes, investments or delivery timings, but they are important political commitments which pave the way for long-term partnerships.

The EU signed a MoU last month with Israel and Egypt on gas imports, as part of its plans to seek alternative suppliers of energy and cut dependence on Russian oil, gas and coal.

Namibia key in EU 'Global Gateway' strategy

Namibia, one of the world's driest and least densely populated countries, is trying to harness its vast potential for solar and wind energy to produce 'green' hydrogen.

The German government has already agreed to invest €40 million in Namibia's 'green' hydrogen sector, and Belgian and Dutch companies are also operating in the country in that field.

Direct EU funding for Namibia is likely to be limited, but a deal could attract other investors and funding.

The EU also wants easier access to minerals in Namibia, and plans geological projects to explore the resources of the country.

Namibia is among the priority countries in the EU's "Global Gateway" strategy, Brussels' version of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, which is intended to boost infrastructure investment and diplomatic ties in developing countries.

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