Cautious in green hydrogen, TotalEnergies announces a megaproject in Tunisia

Cautious in green hydrogen, TotalEnergies announces a megaproject in Tunisia
Cautious in green hydrogen, TotalEnergies announces a megaproject in Tunisia

Green hydrogen is currently “too expensive to produce and transport by boat, in the form of ammonia or methanol” to Europe or Asia, from countries with massive wind or solar power, explains David Corchia, director of TotalERen, a 100% subsidiary of TotalEnergies since 2023, but also general director of TE H2, a joint venture formed by TotalEnergies (80%) and the Eren group, of which he is also one of the two founders with Pâris Mouratoglou. Which does not prevent it from developing green hydrogen projects in Latin America, outside Brazil, in North Africa, outside Algeria, Mauritania, Australia and Europe. On May 27, TotalEnergies and the Austrian electrician Verbund signed a memorandum of understanding with Fatma Thabet Chiboub, the Tunisian Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy, to study the implementation of the hydrogen project green H2 Notos.

The project aims to produce 200,000 tonnes of green hydrogen per year in the south of Tunisia during the initial phase, with the possibility of reaching 1 million tonnes per year. The aim is to use desalinated sea water and renewable electricity produced by solar and onshore wind farms that TotalEnergies will have to build. The hydrogen will be transported to the coast by a hydrogen pipeline built by TotalEnergies to supply the European market using the future SoutH2 Corridor. This pipeline will connect North Africa to Italy as well as Austria and Germany. Its commissioning is planned around 2030. TE H2 will be responsible for the development, financing, construction and operation of this integrated project, from the production of green electricity to the production of green hydrogen. Verbund will coordinate the transport of the hydrogen produced to Central Europe.

A multi-billion project

This ambitious project will cost “many billions of dollars”, warns David Corchia. The investment decision will only take place, at best, in 2028, “if all hypotheses are confirmed”, indicates the director of TotalEren. It takes almost two years of technical studies and two or three years of detailed engineering. The objective is to start producing in 2030 or 2031. We also need to secure customers. “We speak with a lot of buyers, particularly Germans, but we are not going to start selling a product that we have not yet started producing”tempers the leader of TE H2.

Setting up these complex and unique projects takes a lot of time. In Chile, where TotalEren is developing a mega green hydrogen project of 8 to 10 GW produced with onshore wind power in the south of the country, with a view to exporting it by ship in the form of ammonia, TotalEren “discussing with the private owner of the 120,000 hectare land since 2019”, explains David Corchia. And the investment decision has still not been made. The Chilean project “serves as a laboratory on technical, technological and cost aspects”. TotalEren is also developing projects in Australia and Mauritania. For other regions, notably the Middle East, TotalEnergies prefers to wait and is looking for local partners, such as in India, where it is working on the subject with its partner Adani.

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