As the African continent looks towards cleaner sources of fuel in a bid to address climate change, hydrogen has emerged as both a viable and critical resource. With renewable energy resources widely available across the continent, Africa has the potential to establish strong hydrogen markets, driving socio-economic growth and alleviating energy poverty. With hydrogen expanding in Africa, Energy Capital & Power spoke with Philibert Dutrieux, CEO, iH2 – Ivoire Hydrogène (iH2), about the role of hydrogen in Africa, high potential markets, and the company’s pipeline of projects.
Please provide a brief overview of iH2 – Ivoire Hydrogène; and could you expand on the company’s mission, vision, and current operations.
iH2’s purpose is to make hydrogen the main energy vector for the Ivory Coast, and West Africa at large. Our mission is to offer sustainable development through hydrogen. Our engagement as part of the founding members of African Hydrogen Partnership (AHP) is a testament of our undertaking. With hydrogen being one of the future energy vectors, iH2’s mission is clear. Our vision is to promote, set up and be the one stop shop for anyone seeking a renewable energy platform. Currently we are committed to demonstrating the benefits of hydrogen through a hydrogen demonstrator, during the African Football Cup of Nations in 2023.
What role do you feel hydrogen will play in Africa’s energy transition?
The belief that hydrogen will become Africa’s leading renewable energy resource is not our own! It’s one that is shared within the hydrogen community. We have seen how hydrogen can be created, stored and used in a renewable and sustainable way- all that is required is its distribution process.
How will the resource affect the millions of people on the continent who lack access to modern and reliable energy?
It will transform the way people live, should they want to, be it electricity in their homes, fertilizers for the crops or even fuel transport, and all within a local environment benefiting the local communities. Having the ability to implement self-sustaining, renewable and sustainable energy giving access to a reliable and efficient source of energy is indeed one of iH2’s main goals.
In your view, which countries in Africa possess the highest potential to become hydrogen economies?
At this point in time, the most advanced hydrogen related activities are located in Egypt and South Africa. Still, Mali is very much suited to becoming a hydrogen economy. iH2 believes that Africa as a whole can become a hydrogen economy.
iH2 will be hosting the first hydrogen demonstration in the Ivory Coast in 2023, for the African Cup of Nations. What was the reason you chose this event?
Like all new technologies, a practical experience is key to its understanding, acceptance and usage. Through a demonstrator, we will be able to offer the opportunity to do just that. That is why we believe that it is crucial to show and share the remarkable power of hydrogen. And what better environment than football to reach millions. We want to promote hydrogen through the passion of millions to fuel their energy needs of the future.
What other hydrogen projects are currently in the pipeline for 2022 and beyond?
With data centers being in high demand to supply and fulfill the requirements of modern society, it is prime that the energy source for these data centers is in sync with the evolving world. As such, we are working with global players in the industry to supply ecological and economically friendly solutions. In the same vein, as a form of hydrogen, ammonia is also a valuable asset in terms of sustainable development.
Hydrogen University Days are an integrated part of our desire to share with as many people as possible in order to create an understanding of what, where and how to use hydrogen. Yet, to extend further, we shall promote hydrogen through hydrogen events, where each and every person can gain knowledge of hydrogen and welcome this future energy vector. The creation of multiple hydrogen projects and events popularizing hydrogen will also aim to help develop a hydrogen hub, developing strong and lasting partnerships within the hydrogen community for Africa.