France’s HDF Energy to start building Zimbabwe’s first ever hydrogen plant in 2024

French independent power producer HDF Energy plans to build Zimbabwe’s first green hydrogen energy plant in 2024 under an agreement with power utility ZETDC.

The project, Middle Sabi Renewstable, will be developed in Chipinge’s Chipangayi Renewable Energy Technology Park, which has obtained all the initial permits to get it off the ground, the company said.

“The electricity demand in the country is very high, in part because of the growth in demand by the productive sector, a positive sign for Zimbabwe’s future,” said Nicolas Lecomte, HDF Director for Southern and East Africa, after signing an MoU with ZETDC on Thursday.

“HDF expect to reach financial close on the project and start construction in 2024/2025.”

Engineer John Diya, who represented ZETDC, said: “This is an encouraging milestone for ZETDC as it comes at a time when the Government is encouraging the transition to renewable energy.”

The planned HDF plant will produce green power for the national grid through the Middle Sabi Substation located 4km from the project site. The annual electric production will be 178 GWh, providing electricity to more than 220,000 inhabitants, the company said.

Such power plants use solar panels to power electrolysers that produce hydrogen that can be stored. 

Zimbabwe faces a grave power crisis due to aged thermal plans and low hydropower generation at Kariba. The country has ambitions to produce up to 1000MW of renewables by 2030. However, private investment into energy has been slowed by concerns over the country’s uncertain currency regime. Investors fear that they won’t be able to charge economic tariffs for their power.

HDF, founded in 2012 and headquartered in Bordeaux, France, operates on five continents and has a portfolio of projects worth over US$5.4 billion. HDF expects its green hydrogen power plant in Namibia, Africa’s first, to start producing electricity by 2024. The company also signed agreements last year to produce power in South Africa.