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Coega green ammonia project gains momentum as Japanese partner introduced

Home Infrastructure Energy – Power Generation Coega green ammonia project gains momentum as Japanese partner introduced

ITOCHU Corporation and Hive Hydrogen have agreed to work together on matters of viable green hydrogen and ammonia project development, production, operation, marketing, offtake and distribution.

Hive Hydrogen SA and Itouchu Corporation celebrated the signing of their Memorandum of Co-operation (MoC) on December 8 in Nelson Mandela Bay, to advance Hive’s Coega green ammonia export project.

The purpose of this MoC is to clearly identify the important areas for Hive and Itouchu to engage on that will enable them to each achieve their respective green hydrogen and ammonia business objectives in a strategic, structured, assured, and cost-effective manner.

The MoC provides a framework to develop a least-cost green ammonia solution that includes inter alia Itouchu’s potential involvement as a strategic equity investor and offtake in relation to the Project.

Both parties recognise that the development of the project requires further technical, regulatory, and market development, including the engagement of key supply chain members and governments.

Itouchu and Hive also agreed to work together to understand the timing, scale, and market demand for green ammonia, and how to best phase the plant development and construction to enhance project viability.

Hive chairman, Thulani Gcabashe, remarked: “This is a historic milestone for the project following an exciting period of engagement with Itouchu in Japan and their very dynamic office in South Africa. The huge positive impact that this project will have on Nelson Mandela Bay, the Eastern Cape, and indeed South Africa is welcomed by us all and we look forward to working together towards a meaningful offtake agreement and investment in the project by Itouchu.”

Shinya Ishizuka, CEO of Itouchu Africa Bloc, commented: “This MoC represents another big step forward for Itouchu in its growing leadership role in building a sustainable, clean fuel supply chain of green ammonia to the Far East and globally.  With this collaborative development of green ammonia, Itouchu aims to create a wide range of ammonia value chains in various existing industrial applications and will support our clients and industries in achieving low carbonisation goals.”

Ishizuka explained that Itouchu, which was founded in 1858 operates in over 61 countries and has become one of the largest companies in the world. In South Africa, the corporation is involved in numerous upstream businesses and is extremely active in multiple sectors including textiles, machinery, mining and metals, energy, chemicals, food, general products, communication technology and finance. He said that Itouchu had been present in the Gqeberha area since the 1960s and is the second-largest shareholder in Isuzu Motors SA, as well as a shareholder in Mercedes-Benz SA |(MBSA) and a distributor for MBSA. The corporation is also a major trader in materials such as rooibos tea and food products, uranium, iron ore, wood chips and various chemical products in and out of South Africa.

Ishizuka said Itouchu recognised the hydrogen and ammonia value chains’ potential for a decarbonised society. Ammonia can be used as a fuel source to lower the carbon footprint of power plants, but can also become a game-changer as a source of marine fuel. He said South Africa is not only the home of an abundance of renewable energy sources, but that its geographic location also has advantages. Ammonia can be transported to Asia and Europe without any ‘choke points’ like the Panama Canal. South Africa can be an optimum bunkering point between Europe and Asia.

Baphelele Mhlaba, chief of staff at the Eastern Cape office of the premier, emphasised the significance of the R105 billion project to the province as an opportunity to not only be known as an automotive region, but also as a pioneer in green hydrogen. He expressed the provincial government’s commitment to realising the project. “We look forward to a journey that doesn’t write a strategy, but implements one. [A project] that doesn’t wait for a masterplan, but realises that we can actually realise a green hydrogen valley in the Eastern Cape.”

Coega is Hive’s flagship green hydrogen and ammonia project. Initially, the renewable energy capacity for the development is around 3.6 GW of solar PV and onshore wind generation, with further sites identified totalling more than 12GW for additional phases of the project. Once operational, which is planned for 2028, this site is expected to export green ammonia, green hydrogen, and potentially ammonium nitrate from Coega.

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