Sonangol, Angola’s state oil company, has signed a preliminary agreement with a German engineering company to assess the possibility of building a green hydrogen facility in the Central African nation.

Sonangol’s executive director Osvaldo Inacio told delegates at Africa Energy Week (AEW) that, as part of the parastatal’s energy transition strategy, it has signed a memorandum of understanding with a subsidiary of Nuremberg-based Gauff Group on green hydrogen.

Deal inked

“We’re just setting up an MoU with Gauff, a German company, to set up a green hydrogen plant in Angola.”

The MoU was inked with Gauff GmbH & Co Engineering KG, the group’s most important business, after representatives had discussed potential energy transition projects with Angolan government officials in July this year.

In those earlier meetings, according to Angola’s Ministry of Mineral Resources, Petroleum & Gas, a consortium of Gauff and Conjuncta, a Hamburg-based renewables consultancy, proposed the construction of a hydrogen plant.

Early stage

Sonangol’s head of renewables Paulo Guedes – who also spoke at AEW – touched on the hydrogen project, with his presentation noting the proposal is at a very early stage, with the key stakeholders, locations and market opportunities yet to be identified.

Solar plants

The power feedstock for the hydrogen plant was not identified, although Sonangol has a number of sizeable solar facilities under development in southern Angola which has the country’s highest levels of irradiance, with Sonangol’s aiming to have 150MW online by 2027.

The state-owned player has formed joint ventures with Italian major Eni and France’s TotalEnergies to develop solar farms.

Oil company JVs

At Caraculo in Namibe province, a 50MW facility is under development with Eni.

Some 25MW of capacity at Caraculo is due online in 2023, with anther 25MW onstream two years later. The project is currently undergoing detailed engineering.

A 60MW facility is being developed at Quilemba in Huila province with TotalEnergies, and is also due online in two phases – 30MW by 2023 and 30 MW by 2025.

The project proponents are in talks with the government to finalise a concession agreement and a power purchase agreement.

In addition, Sonangol is in talks with partners to develop a 40MW solar plant at Menongue in Cuando-Cubango province.

Phase one – sized at 20Mw - is due online in 2025, followed by a second phase two years later.

Sonangol’s ambition is to have 385MW of solar generation capacity up and running by 2027.

Off-grid solar-diesel plants

As well as solar farms, said Guedes, this capacity will be come from by eight hybrid solar and diesel plants in remote locations that do not have access to the national grid.

Some of these off-grid facilities will be built at four important border-crossing points with the Democratic Republic of Congo in the west and Namibia in the south.

The others will be split between Huila province and Cuando-Cubango province in the far southeast.

As for wind power, Guedes said Sonangol “is looking at that, but solar is our main focus.”

He did not touch on the country’s hydropower potential, but according to the International Hydropower Association, Angola’s potential is among the highest in Africa at 18.2GW, focused on the Kwanza and Cunene rivers.

State-owned Gamek is the main in hydropower utility in the country.

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