Morocco’s green hydrogen can serve Europe says Greenrock’s Belmamoun

By David Whitehouse
Posted on Thursday, 24 March 2022 12:27

Hydrogen electrolysis plant called 'REFHYNE', one of the world's first green hydrogen plants, is pictured during a launch event at Shell's Rhineland refinery in Wesseling
Hydrogen electrolysis plant called 'REFHYNE', one of the world's first green hydrogen plants, is pictured during a launch event at Shell's Rhineland refinery in Wesseling near Cologne, Germany, July 2, 2021. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen

Moroccan green hydrogen can be part of the solution to Europe’s need to find new sources of energy after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Omar Belmamoun, CEO of Greenrock, tells The Africa Report.

The war has “opened eyes to new sources of energy,” Belmamoun says in Rabat. International companies have been showing increased interest in Moroccan green energy, and he has been receiving partnership proposals from around the world. “The market is accelerating in an impressive way,” he says.

Green hydrogen is made from splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen via electrolysis, and must use renewable energy to qualify as green. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said in 2021 it will collaborate with Morocco to advance its renewable hydrogen economy. Global corporates such as GE Renewable Energy have moved to supply turbines to exploit the onshore wind potential, and TotalEnergies has said it will invest €9.4bn ($10.3bn) in hydrogen and green ammonia in Morocco.

  • In terms of offshore wind, the Global Wind Energy Council puts Morocco top of the list of potential African market leaders, and ranks it twelfth globally.

Sceptics point to the risk that green hydrogen exports to Europe will be at the expense of cleaner local energy supply: Morocco still depends heavily on imported fossil fuels. The country is seeking to raise the share of renewables in its domestic energy mix to 52% from 37% by 2030.

  • Belmamoun is former CEO of the Moroccan renewable energy investor Platinum Power. The Greenrock company which he has created is focused on renewable energy investment and development in Morocco.
  • He is working on a green hydrogen project and aims to conclude partnership agreements with financial and industrial partners inside and outside Morocco.

German target market

Wind and solar resources in the south of the country are ideal for large-scale green hydrogen production, Belmamoun says. There is also cheap land which is either sparsely inhabited or completely empty, and proximity to the seawater needed for electrolysis, he adds. Morocco is helped by the abundance of local expertise in the green energy sector, he adds.

Belmamoun declines to give a timetable for the project. It will be big enough to create economies of scale, he says. Greenrock is currently hiring to establish a presence in Germany, which Belmamoun expects to be the main market for Moroccan green hydrogen.

  • The German government in 2021 allocated 900m euros  to the H2 Global Foundation, set up by industrial corporates including Siemens Energy, Linde and ThyssenKrupp, to ramp up the green hydrogen industry.
  • Germany predicts that its power consumption from all sources will climb from 545 terawatt-hours in 2020 to 655 terawatt-hours in 2030.
  • Morocco as a whole is likely to become the most competitive supplier of green hydrogen to Germany, Belmamoun says. He points to Morocco’s political and economic stability, a favourable regulatory environment and proximity to Europe as factors giving it a head start.

Bottom line

Belmamoun is betting that Russia has opened the door to Moroccan green hydrogen in Europe.

Understand Africa's tomorrow... today

We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.

View subscription options