Green Hydrogen: New North African Conflict | Weather Problem

The potential for sub-Saharan Africa to produce more renewable energy due to its dry climate and more land has long been speculated. For centuries, the people of Europe, in particular, have seen it as a source of solar energy that could achieve much of Europe’s energy.

In 2009, the Desertec project, a bid to generate energy for Europe from solar-powered plants in the Sahara was established by European industrial partners and financial institutions with the idea that small desert areas could supply 15 percent of Europe’s electricity through on special devices. direct shipping cables.

Desertec’s work eventually stood in the middle of a debate on its celestial value and its neo-colonial meaning. After trying to revive such as Desertec 2.0 and look at the local market for renewable energy, the project was reborn in Desertec 3.0, which aims to meet Europe’s demand for hydrogen, “pure” energy instead of fossil fuels.

In early 2020, the Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII) established the MENA Hydrogen Alliance to help set up power plants in the Middle East and North Africa that produce hydrogen for export.

Although in Europe such projects may sound like a good idea – to help the continent achieve its goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions – ideas from North Africa are very different. There are growing concerns that instead of helping the region with its green transformation, these projects have led to the seizure of local resources, land grabbing, environmental degradation and the involvement of corrupt individuals.

Hydrogen: A powerful new frontier in Africa

As the world seeks to change renewable energy within the climate crisis, hydrogen has been identified as a “clean” fuel. The same hydrogen reaction occurs as a result of the removal of fats, which results in the formation of high levels of carbon dioxide (gray hydrogen). The purest form of hydrogen – “green” hydrogen – is derived from water electrolysis, a process that can be utilized by electricity from renewable energy.

In recent years, under intense pressure from various interested parties, the EU has embraced the idea of ​​hydrogen change as part of a climate response initiative, launching in 2020 its hydrogen strategy within the European Green Deal (EGD). The system aims to transform into a “green” hydrogen by 2050, through their production and production of sustainable food from Africa.

It was inspired by the ideas offered by the business and hospitality group Hydrogen Europe, which has launched the “2 x 40 GW green hydrogen initiative”. Under this assumption, by 2030, the EU would have 40 gigawatts of renewable hydrogen electrolyser and send another 40 gallons of electrolysers to neighboring regions, among them in the North African desert, using natural oil pipelines that connect already with Algeria. in Europe.

Germany, where Desertec was founded, has been at the forefront of the EU hydrogen process. His government has already approached the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa and Morocco to produce “decarbonized oil” from renewable energy, to export to Europe and to review other regions / countries that are eligible for green hydrogen production. In 2020, the Moroccan government signed an agreement with Germany to develop the first green hydrogen plant on the continent.

Experiments like Desertec have been running fast on the hydrogen bandwidth, which could bring in billions of EU dollars. Its manifesto highlights issues that are being used to promote hydrogen and energy efficiency. It tries to portray it as beneficial to the community. It says it could bring “economic development, future jobs and stability in North African countries”.

But it is also clear from the nature of this conspiracy: “for a renewable energy system in Europe, we need North Africa to develop solar and wind power, converted into hydrogen, to supply the pipeline to Europe”. And it shows that it shows its commitment to “Fortress Europe”, saying that the works “[reduce] economic migration from the region to Europe ”.

In other words, Desertec’s vision and many of the “green” European projects in North Africa seek to preserve modern, neo-colonial Europe and regional integration.

Neo-colonial ‘green transition’

During the colonial period, European powers established a major economic system to capture wealth, goods and (slaves) jobs in Africa. Although the 20th century brought freedom to African countries, this system was never abolished; it was simply modified, often with the help of local post-colonial and elected leaders.

Now the fear is that the EU’s green transformation will continue to feed the oppressive economic system to benefit major European trade and destroy the cities of the African allies. The push for new hydrogen chains that are being offered in projects like Desertec does not reduce the risk of stress.

This is due to the fact that one of the major factors in which the EU has turned to hydrogen represents oil companies, whose origins are closely linked to the colonial events of European rule. Two of their DII counterparts, for example, are the French giant Total Total and the big Dutch oil Shell.

In Africa and elsewhere, the oil refineries continue to use economic strategies established during colonial rule to divert local resources and transfer wealth to the continent.

They also want to protect the political situation in African countries so that they can continue to benefit from meaningful relationships with corrupt officials and ruling elites. This allows them to participate in exploitation, environmental degradation, community violence, and so on with impunity.

In this sense, it is not surprising that the oil and gas industry are forced to embrace hydrogen as the future “pure” oil in order to remain relevant and in business. The companies want to maintain existing gas pipelines and pipelines, as well as the economic relationships they have.

Considering the corporate history of environmental degradation and abuse, it is no surprise that hydrogen drive hides major pollution hazards. The Desertec Manifesto, for example, shows that “in the first phase (between 2030-2035), more hydrogen volumes can be produced by converting natural gas into hydrogen, while CO2 is stored in a gas-free environment”. This combined with the use of hydropower is another example of waste disposal in the south of the country and the extraction of natural resources from north to south.

The economic benefits of the local people are also being questioned. Much future funding would be needed to lay the groundwork for the production and export of green hydrogen to Europe. Considering the past experience of doing low-cost and high-value investments, these investments can create more debt in the host country, and increase reliance on mortgage lending and western financial support.

The powerful North African projects launched by European aid over the past decade already show how colonial power is being regenerated even by transforming it into more and more powerful in the form of green colonization or green conquest.

In Tunisia, a solar power project called TuNur, approved by Desertec, was well-received due to its export plans. Given the country ‘s lack of energy and the need to supply natural gas to Algeria for electricity, exporting electricity while locals are suffering from frequent shutters is not clear.

In Morocco, the unpredictable approach to land acquisition and water use plans for the Ouarzazate Solar Plant – which is also supported by DII members – has raised questions about the potential risks to the community. The high cost of the project – funded by loans from international financial institutions – has also raised concerns about the amount of its debt in the national budget.

Amid the growing climate crisis, North African countries will not be able to continue participating in such atrocities. They will not be able to continue to sell cheap natural resources in Europe and migratory areas due to its green changes.

They need the necessary changes that will affect the transition to an economy that is sustainable, sustainable and inclusive for all. In this case, relations with existing neo-colonial systems should be challenged and suspended.

In the case of European countries and institutions, they have to abandon monarchy and racism in terms of foreign exchange. Otherwise, they would continue to feed the green colonists and pursue promotions and use of natural resources and services on so-called green jobs, which could jeopardize global efforts to respond to climate change.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Al Jazeera.

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