- This energy link can promote not only the transport of renewable hydrogen, but also broader geopolitical cooperation;
- The project will play a vital role in reducing Europe’s dependence on non-renewable sources;
- In addition to SoutH2, there are parallel projects focusing on renewable energy that could have a political and economic impact on the region.
Imagine an extensive energy network stretching 3,300 km connecting North Africa to the heart of Europe. This is the SoutH2 Corridor, an ambitious hydrogen transport pipeline project that promises to transform the Mediterranean into a mega energy hub.
The project emerges as a link between continents, connecting not only energetically, but geopolitically, Africa to Europe and opening paths to a more sustainable and energy-independent future.
What is the SoutH2 Corridor, and what are its objectives?
The SoutH2 Corridor is a mega project aimed at creating an efficient route for the transportation of renewable hydrogen from North Africa to Europe, passing through Italy, Austria, and Germany.
With an impressive length of 3,300 km, the pipeline is led by Transmission System Operators (TSOs) committed to boosting the supply of hydrogen to meet the growing European demand.
The project not only aims to provide renewable hydrogen but also seeks to do so competitively. The pipeline would leverage the existing gas network managed by four major operators (Italy’s Snam, Austria’s GCA and TAG, and Germany’s bayernets), reusing over 70% of existing gas infrastructure connecting European markets to Algerian gas fields. With solid political endorsement from Italy, Austria, and Germany, the corridor has received support at both governmental and business levels.
Since its conception, the SoutH2 Corridor has emerged in response to the need for diversification in Europe’s energy supply sources, especially in light of limitations on energy exports from Russia.
With the capacity to transport 4 million tons of hydrogen per year, the project will play a vital role in reducing dependence on non-renewable sources and promoting a more sustainable energy transition.
Which European and African countries are involved in the SoutH2 project?
- Germany: Germany is one of the driving nations behind the SoutH2 project. The country has actively endorsed the corridor and expressed its commitment to diversifying energy supply sources.
- Italy: Italy has become a vital component of the SoutH2 Corridor, offering not only political support but also seeking to transform itself into an energy hub connecting Africa to northern Europe.
- Austria: By signing the support letter along with Germany and Italy, Austria plays a crucial role in connecting the corridor to the European network. The country is committed to strengthening energy infrastructure and promoting collaboration.
- Algeria: As a major source of green hydrogen, Algeria plays a central role in supplying green molecules to the SoutH2 Corridor. Giant solar farms in the Algerian Sahara Desert are scheduled to produce the renewable energy needed for hydrogen production via electrolysis, intended for export to Europe. The country aims to position itself as a pioneer in hydrogen production and trade, aligning with the project’s goals.
- Tunisia: Strategically located, Tunisia participates in the project as an essential transit point, connecting North Africa to Italy. Tunisia’s role in the corridor highlights its importance in facilitating hydrogen transportation.
- Morocco: Although not directly mentioned, Morocco, with its geographical proximity, can play a significant role in the corridor’s future expansion.
By signing a support letter and expressing their commitment to the project, Germany and Italy have stood out as key driving countries behind the SoutH2 Corridor.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni played crucial roles in emphasizing the importance of transcontinental cooperation and diversifying energy sources.
How can Africa become a clean energy source for Europe?
The growing demand for hydrogen as a clean energy source in Europe has faced significant supply challenges. The SoutH2 Corridor emerges as an innovative solution to alleviate this shortage, directly connecting North Africa to Europe through an ambitious hydrogen pipeline.
With the mentioned capacity of 4 million tons per year, the project could supply Europe with competitive renewable hydrogen. Thus, Algeria, rich in natural gas resources, will play a crucial role in driving Europe’s transition to more sustainable energy sources.
Moreover, by facilitating competitive renewable hydrogen production, the corridor also promotes political and economic cooperation between the two continents.
3 Other sustainable energy projects between Africa and Europe
The SoutH2 Corridor is not alone in the quest for sustainable partnerships between Africa and Europe. Other renewable energy projects are also shaping the energy landscape between the two continents, each with its potential impact on the region.
Three other significant regional projects are:
- Desertec: Initiated with the vision of harnessing solar energy in the Sahara Desert, the Desertec project aims to provide clean electricity to Europe. Although it has faced challenges over the years, it remains a significant initiative to tap into African solar resources.
- Transaqua Project: Focusing on the Congo River basin, the Transaqua project proposes diverting some of the waters to Lake Chad, creating opportunities for hydroelectric power generation and economic development in the region. This project highlights the importance of collaboration in such initiatives.
- West African Power Pool (WAPP): Currently, the WAPP—a initiative aiming to integrate and expand energy networks in West Africa—does not have a direct interconnection with Europe. Still, the organization seeks to facilitate cooperation and electricity exchange among West African countries. Although the initiative currently does not export energy to Europe, the idea of international interconnections for electricity trade is being discussed globally as a way to diversify energy sources, increase the resilience of the electrical system, and promote the use of renewable energy. Therefore, despite the initiative primarily focusing on strengthening regional infrastructure, its expansion and interconnection may eventually contribute to supplying sustainable energy to Europe.
Each project addresses specific challenges and offers unique opportunities. Comparing these initiatives not only highlights the diversity of approaches to sustainable energy but also underscores the importance of adopting a comprehensive approach to achieve ambitious goals.
What is the economic and geopolitical potential of the SoutH2 Corridor?
The SoutH2, in addition to transforming the European energy landscape, also carries significant economic and geopolitical implications.
- Massive Investments: The development of the SoutH2 Corridor requires substantial investments in infrastructure, renewable technologies, and hydrogen production capacity. This not only boosts related sectors but also creates jobs and opportunities for economic growth in the involved regions.
- Trade Stimulus: By connecting North Africa to Europe, the pipeline creates a new route for green hydrogen trade. This not only diversifies energy sources but also strengthens trade ties between participating countries, boosting regional economies.
- Energy Competitiveness: Becoming part of the European hydrogen backbone, the SoutH2 positions the involved countries as significant suppliers of clean energy. This not only elevates their position in the global market but also contributes to the global energy transition.
- Redrawing Regional Dynamics: The trilateral agreement between Germany, Italy, and Austria with the African countries involved, aiming to support the project, reflects a shift in geopolitical and economic dynamics in the Mediterranean region. This may influence alliances and partnerships on a broader scale.
- Diversification of Energy Sources: Europe, seeking to reduce its dependence on traditional suppliers like Russia, sees Africa as an alternative energy source. The SoutH2 Corridor plays a crucial role in diversifying energy sources and strengthening European energy security.
- African Influence Assertion: For the African countries involved, the project represents an opportunity to assert their geopolitical influence, highlighting their role as reliable suppliers of hydrogen and promoting sustainable development in the region.
In conclusion, the SoutH2 Corridor is a significant project not only in the energy sector but also has great potential as a catalyst for economic and geopolitical changes that could shape relations between Africa and Europe in the coming decades.