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Session Highlights

aef 2024 Barcelona

22 Jun 2023

Day 3 - 13.30 - Stream 4 - Hydrogen – Africa’s Opportunity | Project preparation and bankability

As the focus on hydrogen in Africa continued into the afternoon of day three of aef 2023, an important interactive boardroom session was held on project preparation and bankability.

While the physical potential for the region to become a green hydrogen powerhouse was discussed in the first session of the day, a key issue that arose centred around accessing capital and ensuring projects are bankable – it was therefore fitting that an entire boardroom was devoted to this topic, and no surprise to see a packed room.

Several questions were raised around preparing projects for success, structuring contracts, aligning regulations and the needs of the hydrogen off-taker market – i.e., what do they need from producers, developers, technology providers and policymakers to do business with Africa.

A central question, however, simply stated: Are financiers ready?

This is a contentious subject, with a mixture of views held across the investment community as to whether hydrogen projects in Africa represent a major opportunity. Some participants were at the more optimistic end of the debate, noting their recent experiences working in the region’s energy sector and pointing to the significant enthusiasm that is being channelled into green hydrogen at present. Indeed, the entire panel agreed that momentum is starting to gather.

However, there can be no denying that uncertainty levels are still high. As a nascent sector, hydrogen represents a different nature of risk compared to more established modes of renewable energy on the African continent, especially the likes of solar, hydro, wind and geothermal.

One challenge raised was increasing the level of understanding and awareness regarding hydrogen technologies and solutions within the investment community. This is a process which requires close collaboration and dialogue between stakeholders, which can be facilitated by advisory bodies such as the EU funded GET.invest and Trinity International, as was respectively outlined by two speakers.

The complexity of the green hydrogen value chain was also highlighted, with specific hydrogen infrastructure such as pipelines, access to water, and proximity to renewable energy generation
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