Green hydrogen is the new field of competition between Rabat and Algiers. While Morocco has taken a lead in this advanced sector, Algeria says it is able to meet up to “40%” of Europe’s demands.
Algeria wants to position itself as the main exporter of green hydrogen to the European market. Officials multiply the statements on the ability of the country to meet the demands of the Old Continent in this renewable energy.
The last release on this subject, is signed by the director general of the Solar Energy Cluster (public organization), Boukhalfa Yaïci, who affirmed, this Wednesday, July 20th, in statements to the Algerian public radio, that his country “is the best placed” to ensure the supply of Europe in green hydrogen. Another senior official at the Ministry of Energy Transition has even estimated that his country can meet up to “40% of European demand.
Nevertheless, the Commissioner for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, Noureddine Yassaa, was more cautious. In an interview granted in April to APS, he prefers to speak of “interesting assets” of Algeria to produce this clean energy.
President Abdelmadjid Tebboune stressed in February in a speech read on his behalf by Prime Minister Aïmene Benabderrahmane, that “Algeria is currently working, based on these comparative advantages, to develop a national strategy for the development of hydrogen, including green hydrogen. But in his speech, the Head of State did not address the export phase.
Morocco has a head start
In Algeria, green hydrogen is a frequent topic in local media coverage during visits by European officials. This was the case during the visit of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi in June and July, and Katja Keul, the German Deputy Foreign Minister who visited Algiers in June where she announced “the realization, on a trial basis, of a hydrogen project in Algeria with German companies.
In this area, the kingdom has a head start. “Morocco has developed an energy model favorable to the production of green hydrogen, based primarily on the rise of renewable energy. It has started a revolution in terms of renewable energy deployment over the last 10 years, with ambitious and proactive targets for the capacities to be installed to exceed the 52% mark by 2030, announced at COP21,” reads the “Green Hydrogen Roadmap”.
With these assets, the World Energy Council, in its 2018 study entitled “Roadmap Power-to-X”, identified the kingdom as one of the 6 countries with a high potential for production and export of hydrogen and green derivatives.
A ranking that seduced Germany to sign with Morocco, on June 10, 2020 in Berlin, an agreement on the development of green hydrogen. It provided that Morocco, through the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen), partnered with the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development to lead joint research and investment projects in the use of hydrogen, which is an integral part of Germany’s energy neutrality goals by 2045.
An agreement that had paid the price, in May 2021, of substantive differences on the issue of Western Sahara between Rabat and the government of Angela Merkel, especially after the recognition of the Moroccanity of the territory, December 10, 2020, by the President of the United States, Donald Trump.
Cooperation between the two capitals in this sector has been recently relaunched, thanks to the warming of Moroccan-German relations, operated in the wake of the support of the government of Olaf Scholz to the Moroccan autonomy plan for Western Sahara. This is evidenced, moreover, the Joint Declaration issued last March, following talks between the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, and the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Svenja Schulze. On this occasion, the two parties emphasized “the shared interest to intensify cooperation in particular in this area.
Since he took up residence in May in Rabat, the German ambassador, Robert Dölger, addresses the subject with all Moroccan officials he meets. Proof is his meeting last week with the President of the House of Councillors, Naam Miyara. The diplomat also took part in the second edition of the “World Power-to-X Summit” in Marrakech in June. The French group Total Energies, is also interested in the assets of Morocco in the field.
The Strategy for the Development of Green Hydrogen, established in 2021 by the El Othmani government, aims to capture up to 4% of global demand for this product, said in August a statement from the Ministry of Energy and Mines.