Danish developer GreenGo Energy has unveiled plans to build a 35GW moon-shaped green hydrogen plant in Mauritania, which would be powered by 60GW of wind and solar — placing the project among the five largest in the world.

Stay ahead on hydrogen with our free newsletter
Keep up with the latest developments in the international hydrogen industry with the free Accelerate Hydrogen newsletter. Sign up now for an unbiased, clear-sighted view of the fast-growing hydrogen sector.

The project, called Megaton Moon, is ambitious, to say the least.

Not only does it envisage a staggering number of solar panels and wind turbines shaped into a 150,000-hectare crescent that will be “visible from space”, but it also plans to build a massive water desalination plant, residential homes, industrial facilities and agricultural farms in the desert, close to the capital city, Nouakchott.

The 35GW of electrolysers will produce four million tonnes of green hydrogen a year, which could then be combined with nitrogen in the air to produce 18 million tonnes of green ammonia.

“Megaton Moon will through a unique architecture and strategic location to the capitol enable truly transformative potential for Mauritania in terms of socioeconomic, green industrial, green farming and urban development,” states a GreenGo press release. “The new paradigm will be abundant, low-cost water and green energy — in the capital city and the desert.”

Megaton Moon will be built in three main stages, with the first pilot due to enter commercial operation by 2028, and the final stage being completed by 2033-35.

Another view of the planned project, showing the wind turbines interspersed with solar panels. Photo: GreenGo Energy

“Developing a project of this magnitude requires close cooperation with the supply chain and the offtake partners,” said Anders Heine Jensen, the company’s “head of Global Megaton Development”.

“The project’s size is set to attract the establishment of local production of PV panels, wind turbine blades and electrolysis components on which we are currently negotiating MoUs [memoranda of understanding] with manufacturers.”

An unspecified “application” for the project has already been filed with Mauritania’s Ministry of Petroleum, Energy and Mines, and the developer says the ministry has “expressed appreciation and sincere interest” in the project.

“Our government is very pleased with the Megaton Moon project, in particular the elements that will foster massive development potential for our country,” said Ibrahima Diagana, GreenGo’s country manager in Mauritania.

GreenGo CEO Karsten Nielsen explained: “Mauritania is ideally positioned to become one of the future world green hydrogen production hubs for a range of strong reasons.

The flag of Mauritania, which is the inspiration for the shape of the Megaton Moon project. Photo: Wikimedia

“Mauritania holds some of the best solar and wind resource cross in the world, large areas of suitable flat land and coastal proximity for water and shipping.

“Green hydrogen production cost is half of Northern Europe, potentially lower. Furthermore, the region has some of the most operator-friendly fiscal policies on the continent, as documented by a history of significant oil and gas investments by world energy majors. Proximity to load centres in EU is an additional benefit.”

The developer has not revealed how much the project might cost, but says it will be “financed through GreenGo Energy’s entrenched partnership approach with Tier1 investors in the green energy space”.

In January this year, GreenGo unveiled the €8bn ($8.76bn), 2GW Megaton green hydrogen project in Denmark, which will be powered by 4GW of wind and solar, and produce more than a million tonnes of “green fuels” annually by 2030.

GreenGo has been developing renewables projects since 2011, and claims to have 75GW of solar, wind, battery and Power-to-X projects in development or construction around the world.

The Megaton Moon project is due to produce about 190TWh of wind and solar generation a year, with at least 10TWh of that being used to “facilitate development of a large-scale, local desert farming industry, [and] establish a new green industry including local supply chain” and enable the annual production of more than 70 million tonnes of desalinated water, only a third of which will be required for hydrogen manufacturing.

This surplus electricity and water “holds the potential to catapult Nouakchott and Mauritania into a prosperous development cycle” while the “vision” of the project is “to implement a permanent and 100% sustainable solution for the crucial water, power and energy scarcity that has historically been a constant for Nouakchott and Mauritania in general”, says GreenGo.

Several other gigawatt-scale projects have been announced in Mauritania, including Chariot Energy Group’s 10GW Project Nour and an unnamed $34bn, 10GW project led by UAE state-owned developer Masdar, while oil giant BP signed an MoU with the Mauritanian government in November 2022 to “deliver an innovative programme exploring the potential for large-scale production of green hydrogen in the country”.