Boost for renewable energy as EPRA launches guidelines

A vehicle being fueled along Kenyatta Avenue, Nairobi. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) has launched guidelines on green hydrogen and its derivatives, thus activating a new commercial subsector dealing in green hydrogen.

Some of the derivatives of green hydrogen include e-methanol, e-ammonia or e-fuels that are set to replace fossil fuels, coal or gas.

E-methanol consists of replacing the fossil methanol with a synthetic molecule derived from hydrogen produced using water electrolysis and recycled carbon.

E-fuels, also known as electro-fuels are a class of synthetic fuels and are a type of drop-in replacement fuel. They are manufactured using captured carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide, together with hydrogen obtained from water split by low-carbon electricity sources such as wind, solar and nuclear power.

On the other hand, e-ammonia is a carbon-free chemical and fuel made from renewable electricity, water and air that can be rapidly deployed at scale, building on a century of industrial ammonia infrastructure and expertise.

The guidelines elaborate steps and timelines that will make it easy for investors to set up operations anywhere in the country.

During the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi held in Nairobi in September last year, President William Ruto and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen launched the Green Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap for Kenya, with the support of Global Gateway, Europe’s investment strategy for the world.

There currently exists no legal framework specific to the development of green hydrogen and its derivatives in the country, and the guidelines provide a roadmap that will help to kick-start its production and use. 

Kenya in Africa, will now follow South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Namibia and Mauritania to adopt green hydrogen.

They have defined the sustainability criteria for green hydrogen and its derivatives, provided for a streamlined approval process to catalyse project development, established a framework for project monitoring, and facilitated research, and development initiatives in the field.

“These guidelines will help us promote the production and safe handling of green hydrogen and its derivatives. This could be a major boost for renewable energy in the country, because green hydrogen can be used to store and transport clean energy, potentially creating jobs, driving economic growth, and sparking innovation,” said Daniel Kiptoo, director general EPRA during the launch on Friday.

With technologies like the fuel cell, green hydrogen is being used in transport, providing a sustainable mobility alternative.

Cars that run on this clean energy have a hydrogen tank that connects to the fuel cell, where the electricity that powers the engine is generated.

Green hydrogen can also be key for mining vehicles, trains, aircraft, lorries, buses and even maritime transport. 

Asked whether Kenya will soon have green hydrogen-powered vehicles, EPRA declined “for now” as it is a new venture.

However, the regulator said some investors have expressed interest in developing green hydrogen and or transforming its derivatives, and they have received approvals from the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum.

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