Australian billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest has unveiled plans for his company Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) to build a massive 9.2GW renewables project to produce green hydrogen and ammonia in Egypt, cementing the North African country’s status as one of the most promising locations for green H2 production in the world.
“Egypt’s excellent wind and solar resources can generate the renewable energy required to produce large scale green electricity, green hydrogen and green ammonia,” Forrest said, after meeting Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi last week to discuss the proposal.
“Egypt is on the way to becoming a global powerhouse in the green energy value chain.”
A hybrid wind-and-solar-plus-H2 project of the scale proposed by could power at least 4.5GW of electrolysers, rising to 6.5GW if good wind and solar resources optimise technology capacity factors.
This would be smaller than the 16-20GW Aman project currently being developed in Mauritania, to the south and west of Egypt. But it would exceed many of the biggest single-site green hydrogen projects in the Europe — likely to be a major hydrogen import market for North African green H2 schemes — including the SHYNE and Catalina developments in Spain which each have an electrolyser capacity of 2GW.
Only the NortH2 and AquaVentus proposals – each 10GW, in the Netherlands and Germany respectively – would be bigger .
The Suez area of Egypt, on the country’s east coast, boast incredible wind and solar resources, with wind speeds of up to almost 13 metres per second to the south and solar irradiation levels of 2.35MWh/m2.
FFI has already begun investigating the similar potential projects in Suez and neighbouring areas, in August signing a memorandum of understanding with the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZONE), as well as Egypt’s sovereign wealth fund and its electricity and renewables regulators to conduct studies into renewable power and green hydrogen production in the country.
So far around $42bn in private investment in green hydrogen and ammonia schemes has been promised in the SCZONE by international investors keen to capitalise on the economic zone’s independent fiscal regime and critical access to global markets via the Suez Canal.
And FFI, which last month warned that it will have to upscale its electrolyser manufacturing capacity to keep up with demand, may be eyeing the potential for hydrogen export to Europe, which which has set a target to import 10 million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2030. The company already has supply agreements in place with German utility E.ON and UK machinery manufacturer JCB — accounting for some of the company’s target to produce 15 million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2030.
The meeting comes as Egypt prepares to host the United Nations’ COP27 climate change meetings in November, which has put the country’s climate change ambitions in the spotlight.
Egypt currently has no net zero target and its ambitions under the Paris Agreement are rated as ‘highly insufficient’ by Climate Action Tracker, but officials in Cairo appear to see international interest in green hydrogen as the key to unlocking its renewable energy potential and securing green electricity for domestic consumption.
In addition to tackling collaboration on green hydrogen and ammonia facilities, el-Sisi and Forrest discussed “localisation of electricity production from solar and wind resources”, a spokesman for the president said.