A UK-based start-up has unveiled plans to build a 1.6 million tonnes-per-year green hydrogen facility in Mozambique, powered by 12GW of solar.
Jearrard Energy Resources (JES), owned by former property developer and IT engineer Marcus Allington, has secured land for the project and plans to begin development and construction in either the second or third quarter of next year.
The company declined to comment on the project cost or a timeline for final investment decision, but Allington told Hydrogen Insight that JES is in “active discussion” with industrial partners from Norway and the UK to co-develop and fund the project.
“Our project modelling shows we are in line with other international large scale solar-to-hydrogen projects,” Allington added.
The project costs are likely to run into the billions. Namibia’s giant 3GW electrolyser project — powered by around 7GW of renewables — is expected to cost $10bn, a sum nearly equal to that nation’s GDP.
JES’s scheme would be divided up into 1GW “sections” of solar capacity that would then be sub-divided into four sub-sections of 250MW with an electrolyser attached.
Allington — who also declined to disclose what the electrolyser capacity would be for the whole project — told Hydrogen Insight that although it would raise project cost slightly, a distributed electrolyser model would ensure that essential maintenance could be carried out without ever having to shut off production.
If realised, the project would deliver in excess of 4,300 tonnes of green hydrogen per day, the equivalent to 1.57m tonnes annually if the plant is operated 365 days per year.
There is no subsidy scheme in its sights, and the company plans to get the project over the line on “fundamental economics” alone, Allington added.
Mozambique is rich in solar resources, with direct normal irradiation of 4.05-5.51kWh per metre squared, according to the Global Solar Atlas.
Some of the hydrogen produced by the project would be delivered to Mozambique and neighbouring countries, but significant volumes, making up the bulk of the project’s commercial proposition, would be exported to Europe and elsewhere.
But the company has not yet secured any offtake deals for the H2.
“We are in discussion with a number of potential off-takers but our approach was to secure the land assets prior to offering offtake deals,” Allington said.
JES is “flexible” on exactly how the scheme moves forward, the company's founder added.
He gave no further detail, but it could mean that a major developer could feasibly swoop in and — following negotiation with JES — either partner the UK company on the project or take it over completely.
JES, which was incorporated as a company in 2021, showed net assets of just £1 ($1.20) in its last accounts filed for the full year to 30 September 2022.
But Allington told Hydrogen Insight he and his co-founder have been working on developing a green hydrogen project for four-and-a-half years, having originally set out to develop an energy-from-waste scheme.
Now, JES has secured enough land to house the entire 12GW green hydrogen project, and is working on securing yet more, as well as land parcels for additional projects in South Africa and elsewhere.
These additional projects would be of a similar size and have a similar timeframe to the Mozambique project, Allington said.
South Africa recently launched a $1bn green hydrogen fund, backed by the government of the Netherlands.
JES is not the only developer looking to capitalise on solar and wind resources on the African continent. In addition to the Namibia project, Fortescue, owned by billionaire iron-ore magnate Andrew Forrest, is working on a 300MW geothermal-to-hydrogen project in Kenya, while green hydrogen schemes have also been announced in Angola and Burkina Faso.
In fact, Norwegian analysts Rystad Energy recently found that African states are “currently in the best position to supply green hydrogen in the quantities Europe requires”, due to low labour costs and high renewables potential.