CWP & Mauritania In MOU to Build Green H2 Plant, but will Citizens Benefit?

CWP & Mauritania In MOU to Build Green H2 Plant, but will Citizens Benefit? Hydrogen Project HyNCREASE in Germany Qualifies for European Grant

NSW-headquartered renewable energy developer CWP Global recently announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government of Mauritania for the development of a 30GW green hydrogen project.

CWP claims that the project, called Aman, will be the world’s biggest renewable energy project, exporting green hydrogen and its derivatives to global markets. It will be located in the north of the country on a desert site of approximately 8,500 sq. km.

The EU-Africa Green Investment Forum, hosted by EU Portuguese Presidency and the European Investment Bank, was organised in April this year and centered on boosting investment in Africa to take advantage of its immense scope for generating renewable energy.

The company believes Mauritania to be one of the best locations for the production of low-cost green hydrogen. The project’s hybrid wind and solar generation is expected to benefit from a stable, high-capacity factor profile at the desert site, promising some of the cheapest clean energy in the world, and making it ideal for massive-scale green hydrogen and its derivatives.

The 30GW of wind and solar will power electrolysers for the production of green hydrogen, and will play a significant role in reducing carbon pollution from energy generation, transport, agriculture and steel production, and contribute towards the net zero emissions trajectories required to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The Mauritanian government is said to have opened the door to international investors and committed to accelerate progress on the project’s development and approvals process.

Mr Mark Crandall, Founder and Chairman of CWP Global said, “We are pleased to have the confidence and support of the Mauritanian government for the development of this ambitious project, which will create a stable export vector and generate thousands of new jobs in construction, local manufacturing, operations and export facilitation. The project will have a transformative effect on the Mauritanian economy, generating billions of dollars in export and providing access to inexpensive electricity and water for the population and economy. ”

Mr. Abdelsalam Mohamed Saleh, Minister of Petroleum, Mines and Energy of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania said, “The Government of Mauritania has put the exploitation of its immense renewable resources as a top priority in line with the commitment of his excellency the President of the Republic to promote accelerated, sustainable, and equitable economic growth for all the people of Mauritania. The Government of Mauritania is grateful to CWP and to its CEO Mr. Mark Crandall for his trust and express its unwavering commitment to this monumental endeavoured.”

However, many sceptics argue that the signing of the MoU does not guarantee that the plan will be brought to fruition. Financing the project be a Herculean challenge for the Mauritanian government, given that the African desert country’s GDP was negative in the year 2020. Plus a long history of military rule and coups to overthrow elected governments doesn’t help. Mr. Saleh has said, “This project will cost billions of dollars and take years to complete, but it will change the face of Mauritania economically and open many doors,” but concerns are being voiced about whether the project will join a long list of empty promises made by European companies with respect to investment in Africa. The lack of any mention of spinoff projects- such as providing electricity to schools, households and agricultural activities- has raised red flags about the real benefit of such a project to the Mauritanian citizens if it indeed is fully realised. In that case, while CWP accrues significant profits through exporting green hydrogen to global markets, will the poor citizens of Mauritania be left to bear the burden of debt taken on by the government?

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Soumya Duggal

Soumya is a master's degree holder in English, with a passion for writing. It's an interest she has directed towards environmental writing recently, with a special emphasis on the progress being made in renewable energy.