Africa-focused energy company Chariot has teamed up with French supermajor TotalEnergies’ part-owned renewables player Total Eren to develop a 10 gigawatt green hydrogen project in Mauritania.
Project Nour is in the early stages of development and aims to produce green hydrogen through onshore solar and wind farms, close to the coast.
Chariot and Total Eren have established a 50:50 partnership to co-develop the scheme and will shortly launch feasibility studies to assess its technical, commercial and environmental viability.
The two companies already work closely on supplying mines in Sub-Saharan Africa with solar power, replacing expensive diesel.
Chariot will co-lead on project development and permitting, local content and stakeholder engagement, with Total Eren bringing its renewables expertise to the table.
Chariot chief executive Adonis Pouroulis told Upstream the involvement of Total Eren and TotalEnergies confirms “Mauritania as a high quality jurisdiction for the production of low cost, green hydrogen”.
The goal, he said, is to wrap up all the necessary studies so that a final investment decision can be taken in about two years time.
The upcoming studies will focus on the design and location of project infrastructure within Mauritania as well as addressing community and environmental issues and sales agreements for the hydrogen which is likely to be sold in the form of ammonia.
Pouroulis said the study will establish whether the hydrogen generated could be used to produce green steel locally and if solar and wind energy could provide baseload power to the national grid and Mauritania’s burgeoning mining sector.
Another study element will focus on exports, most probably liquid ammonia, that can be sent overseas from Nouadhibou port, with Germany being the target market.
Pouroulis said the market for ammonia today is 180 million tonnes per annum and could rise further as shipping switches away from heavy fuel oil.
Ammonia production is highly carbon intensive, so if a green fuel can be produced from it, emissions will fall.
Due to the Ukraine war, ammonia is being sold for more than €1000 ($992) per tonne, compared with between €500 and €600 previously.
Earlier this year, Chariot signed a partnership agreement with Rotterdam port to sell green hydrogen and derivative products into Europe.
It is green hydrogen’s production cost that is preventing its market acceptance, so Pouroulis said the key goal of the project partners is to drive capital costs below $2 per kilogram, a price at which “you’ll be in the game”.
A big benefit of bringing Total Eren and TotalEnergies to the project, Pouroulis said, is that the supermajor has “all the relationships with potential offtakers”.
Chariot said TotalEnergies’ OneTech division — created a year ago and led by Namita Shah — will be working on the project.
OneTech comprises 3300 engineers, technicians and researchers working in three hubs — industrial, R&D and support functions — that aim to meet the company’s energy transition targets.
Assuming the development is commercially viable, Chariot claims the project could be “among the most competitive green hydrogen” schemes in the world.
Chariot added that, with a potential capacity of up to 10 GW, “it could become, once fully implemented, one of the most significant green hydrogen projects in Africa”.
Among other countries on the continent in the early stages of pursuing green hydrogen initiatives are Namibia, South Africa and most of the nations in North Africa.
Meanwhile, Total Eren and Chariot said they “may evaluate” further green hydrogen opportunities together in other African countries.
Commenting on the Project Nour deal, Total Eren’s global head of business development and executive vice president Fabienne Demol said: “We believe that green hydrogen is going to be an essential part of the energy mix in the future and we are delighted to enter into this new partnership on a continent where our strategic shareholder, TotalEnergies, holds a strong footprint.
“Our skill sets complement Chariot’s well, and we intend to share our expertise throughout the project’s development.”
Pouroulis added that the company is “keen to continue to expand our green hydrogen project portfolio and … we look forward to collaborating on further opportunities alongside Total Eren in the future”.