During a brief tour of Antwerp on Wednesday, the leaders of Belgium and Namibia discussed the African nation’s traditional business – diamond mining – as well as an emerging industry: hydrogen power generation.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo hosted Namibian President Hage Geingob in Antwerp ahead of Geingob’s participation in Thursday’s African Union summit with European Union leaders, Belga News Agency reported.
While in Antwerp, De Croo and Geingob boarded the Hydrocat 48 – a hydrogen-powered vessel used for crew transfers for offshore wind farm maintenance operations. The two leaders also discussed trade relations during a meeting in Antwerp’s diamond district.
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Namibia’s economy depends heavily on the extraction of diamonds and other minerals. But as land-based diamond supplies diminish, the country is turning to more expensive offshore diamond mining, according to the CIA World Factbook. Namibia is also a world leader in uranium mining for the nuclear power industry, although the country does not have a nuclear power plant.
De Croo and Geingob toured the hydrogen-powered sea vessel because the African nation has plenty of sun and wind – two elements that could help make Namibia a pioneer in generating hydrogen from renewable sources.
Green hydrogen is created by using renewable energy sources like wind and solar power to electrolyte water – that is, using electricity to separate water into its elementary components: hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen can be used as fuel which, when burned, produces water.
In theory, this makes hydrogen power emission free but this depends on the hydrogen itself being produced with green energy from renewables.
At the end of 2021, Belgium and Namibia signed a memorandum on hydrogen on the sidelines of COP26 in Glasgow. The memorandum will facilitate cooperation between Belgium and Namibia to set up hydrogen production and transport infrastructures.