Hydrogen from Jordan despite water shortage?
The goal of the Lower Saxony state government is to make Lower Saxony a gateway and hub for renewable energies. With its deep-sea ports, the state has ideal conditions for importing green hydrogen. The EU has already signed agreements with Namibia and Egypt for such energy partnerships. Jordan is also considering getting into the export of hydrogen.
Jordan has an average of about 300 sunny days per year - and can potentially generate high amounts of renewable PV electricity. This means that the country in principle offers good conditions for the development of a hydrogen economy and the export of green hydrogen. On the other hand, however, the amount of water in the country is limited, so conflicts of use could arise.
Within the framework of the Wuppertal Institute and supported by the foreign office of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Jordan, possibilities for the development of a hydrogen economy in Jordan were discussed - taking into account the critical situation in the water sector. NWN project manager Dr. Alexander Bedrunka was represented in the dialogue and reports on the situation in Jordan.
At the end of September, the first part of the dialog started with the visit of a Jordanian delegation to Wuppertal. Here, in addition to various presentations around the topics of water and hydrogen, practical examples such as the waste incineration plant in Wuppertal were shown. Dr. Alexander Bedrunka was invited to present the hydrogen economy in Lower Saxony as well as lighthouse projects that could be of interest to Jordan. "In recent years, a large number of hydrogen projects along the entire value chain have emerged in Lower Saxony. For representatives from a country like Jordan, which is still at the very beginning of hydrogen, it was therefore interesting to see how diverse the projects are in our country," said Bedrunka.
The second part of the dialogue took place at the end of October with a German delegation in Jordan, where Dr. Alexander Bedrunka was also represented. The aim of the workshop was to identify potential hydrogen applications for Jordan from the point of view of the existing water shortage.
Building a hydrogen economy in Jordan - what are the options for action?
"Unlike Lower Saxony with its steel industry, Jordan does not have an industry that requires large quantities of hydrogen for decarbonization and thus would justify the development of a large-scale hydrogen economy for domestic benefit. Furthermore, the long-term storage capability of hydrogen is also not imperative, as Jordan has an average of 300 days of sunshine per year. Therefore, battery and pumped storage are more likely to be used to store excess energy."
Dr. Alexander Bedrunka, NWN Project Manager
Jordan's second largest CO2 emitter after industry is the mobility sector with 45%. To reduce CO2 emissions, Jordan is investing heavily in electric mobility. Currently, 40,000 battery electric vehicles are registered and 1,000 e-vehicles are added every month. The use of hydrogen, especially for special-purpose and commercial vehicles, could accelerate CO2 reduction, but this would require an H2 refueling infrastructure to be built in parallel with charging stations, similar to the one in Germany.
In addition, it initially makes sense to use the renewable electricity from PV systems for self-consumption, since currently 84% of the energy demand in Jordan is still covered by energy imports. In order to reduce the import share, a massive expansion of renewable energies is therefore taking place. The 2030 targets of meeting 14% of primary energy demand and 31% of electricity demand via renewable energy were (expected to be) already achieved in 2021. "Due to the high PV potential, the question in Jordan is whether hydrogen has a future as an export product," Bedrunka explained.
Hydrogen despite water shortage? On delegation trip in Jordan at the workshop.
Water shortage limits potential hydrogen production
It is imperative to take a look at the water sector in Jordan. Basically, there is less water available in Jordan than is needed. The demand is continuously increasing due to the influx of refugees from neighboring countries. At the same time, the country's water supply is declining. Much water is needed for domestic agriculture. "So the production of hydrogen is also always in conflict with other water uses. This does not mean that hydrogen cannot be produced in Jordan in principle, because exporting hydrogen offers some potential for the country from an economic point of view. On the other hand, this export, which would indirectly involve the export of water, is proving difficult," Bedrunka said. Based on the various impulses during the workshop, which came from the different sectors, working groups identified both positive effects and negative consequences from the use of hydrogen in Jordan. Based on this, the participants developed proposals for solutions as to what the next steps for the topic of hydrogen in Jordan could look like.
"Since there are no major drivers for building a hydrogen economy, decentralized pilot projects should be initiated first," Bedrunka said of the outcome of the delegation trip. "One focus can be on holistic projects that do not focus exclusively on hydrogen in electrolysis, but take into account sector coupling, i.e., using the remaining byproducts such as waste heat and oxygen. These projects should also lead to building hydrogen expertise in Jordan and training relevant professionals."
The Lower Saxony Hydrogen Network wants to continue to accompany the situation in Jordan in the future and participate in the initiation of pilot projects. If you are basically interested in participating in possible pilot projects in Jordan, please feel free to contact us at netzwerk[at]wasserstoff-niedersachsen.de. As soon as it goes into a more concrete phase of project development, we will contact you.