All over the world, so the wishful thinking goes, large-scale projects worth hundreds of billions of US dollars are being built that will soon supply huge quantities of clean hydrogen. How this is to reach the distant industrialized countries has not yet been fully clarified, but imagine that it is to be converted into ammonia and thus shipped quite conveniently and safely.
The currently sunny but poor countries of Africa are thus to become the new sources of gold. Namibia, for example, wants to generate 25% of its GDP with it in the future. The potential is huge, say planners, and all that is needed is to build enough solar, wind farms and electrolysers, as well as new ports, to become the new El Dorado.
This gold rush is so great that, according to Namibian presidential advisor James Mnyupe, new investors are coming into the country every week to secure the best sites.
It is truly surprising why all these involved government officials with their advisors, the heads of experienced oil and energy giants, and major investors are embarking on this adventure without having been informed about the possible obstacles and dangers? Moreover, it is questionable on what basis the exact delivery quantities and all these contracts, which were necessary for the financing, came about, if not a single kilogram of hydrogen was produced in the countries mentioned? Solar radiation in Africa or elsewhere is not a constant and secure resource, like fossil fuels, which are stored under the earth’s surface and whose demand quantities can be measured and called up quite precisely.
A thorough analysis of the sites under consideration for generating electricity using solar PV power plants inevitably leads to the following conclusions:
– If huge solar farms with dark solar panels are built in already hot areas, then it is to be expected that enormous amounts of heat will be thrown back into the atmosphere. If we now take the example of Namibia, where the Benguela Current from Antarctica flows through the Namib Desert every day and this then collides with the additionally warmed warm air masses from the Indian Ocean, then serious weather changes can occur that are hardly predictable at present.
– The unprecedented floods as well as hailstorms on the Saudi peninsula and in other parts of the world show that the weather apparatus has already been changing massively for several years. In the last two to three years, hailstones the size of tennis balls have fallen from the sky all over the world, causing massive damage. It is impossible to say whether this weather has anything to do with the PV capacity already installed or whether other weather factors are responsible.
One thing is certain, however: Saudi Arabia has been hit by hailstorms for the second time this year, with the first one in April leaving massive damage in its wake. The last hailstorm, on Aug. 6 in the Asir region, was not as bad, but left behind wintry weather. So it remains to be seen to what extent Saudi Arabia will establish itself as a winter ski resort in the future.
In conclusion, the following statement remains: If storms, floods as well as hailstorms will continue to occur in the sunny countries as frequently as they do now, then there will be massive restrictions on electricity generation using PV power plants. This is because even medium-sized hailstones will severely damage or completely destroy the panels. A solar power plant with solar panels in the form of a sieve will hardly be able to supply electricity. This would be a total loss. https://www.pv-magazine.com/2023/07/26/how-big-must-hailstones-be-to-damage-pv-systems/
A note regarding the amount of hydrogen delivered from Africa to Europe: If hydrogen is transported in liquid form by ship, then out of 100% of the energy used in Africa, only 36% remains.
If, on the other hand, hydrogen is synthesized in ammonia and then converted back into hydrogen at the destination, then 11-19 % of the energy used remains at the end.
Source: Paul Martin: “Ammonia Pneumonia” – LinkedIn