To finance the Grand Inga using green hydrogen, equality and ethics matter – global issues


The Inga I dam, with the feed channel for the Inga II in the foreground. Credit: alaindg license / GNU
  • Opinion Written by Philip Benoit (Paris)
  • Interpress service

But for the Grand Inga project to successfully attract Huge financing It requires, it will need to address issues of equality and ethics that mostly stem from the Democratic Republic of the Congo The problematic context, but also pouring in from warranty concerns “Just go” in the energy sector.

Inga Falls, located on Congo River In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it is The largest hydroelectric site in the world With 40,000 MW of potential generation capacity. In comparison, the Installed power capacity in all Sub-Saharan African countries (except South Africa) totals 80,000 megawatts only.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo itself has one of Lowest rates of access to electricity in the world and The third largest number of poor people. Looking at these numbers, I have a lot I dreamed of unleashing the potential of hydropower in Enga To generate clean renewable electricity for both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Africa on a large scale.

Unfortunately, progress in Inga has been hampered by The huge market risk inherent in selling its massive electricity production Across Africa (and also the Democratic Republic of the Congo الكونغو Governance Challenges). However, as I wrote in a recent article, adding green hydrogen production could help the project overcome this marketing hurdle as it involves sending electricity to nearby factories, to produce hydrogen that can then be shipped to creditworthy markets in Europe And the in another place.

he was there growing interest at green hydrogen As a low carbon fuel for use in transportation and industry. Because it is produced through the electrolysis of water using electricity generated from hydropower or other renewable energy sources It has little greenhouse gas emissions. Boosting climate pledges It is expected to drive the growth in demand for green hydrogen, which could reach $300 billion annually in exports by 2050.

Fortescue appears to be relying on this potential demand in proposing a hydrogen export configuration that would make the Inga project more attractive to investors. But for this new approach to mobilization billions of dollars Required from investors, the project will also need to manage equity and ethics concerns that could otherwise trigger three different but interrelated risks.

The first poses new emerging risks in relation to sales. Justice and morals in general Justice considerations take on Growing importance in climate efforts. Concerns about these issues are likely to combine over the next decade into demands to produce any fuel, presented as green fuels to serve climate goals, in a way that also satisfies considerations of equity and ethics.

The growing international pressure facing the Democratic Republic of the Congo Cobalt production due to child labor and other issues It refers to this type of emerging and growing non-financial risk that can affect the marketing of a commodity. The implication of Project Inga is that its developers need to ensure that their green hydrogen is not tainted by equity or morality issues. . . Because “polluted green hydrogen” may have a hard time selling on European energy markets in the future, despite its climate benefits.

Second, the unfair treatment of local communities or the broader community in the DRC in relation to the project can lead to demonstrations, civil unrest, and other actions that can disrupt project construction and operations. Although the risk of business interruption is concentrated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it also extends to demonstrations down the supply chain (for example, in European cities that import hydrogen).

Third, failure to deal with equity and ethics issues can increase reputation risk for investors, particularly in light of growing interest in environment, social and governance)ESG) performance. This will be an especially notable consideration for those investors who are attracted to the project Green Energy Attributes, including many investment funds and commercial banks, as well as providers From Climate Finance.

Addressing these issues of equality and ethics requires a multi-pronged approach. the most important:

The project will need management Environmental and Social Impactsincluding ensuring that affected local populations are treated appropriately and equitably. This treatment of local residents is an area of ​​special interest given both Previous failures in this regard with regard to the construction of two existing smaller dams in Eng and DRC Ongoing governance issues.

One advantage of hydrogen formation is that it reduces the need for existing transmission lines Often the source of multiple biodiversity and other issues, but there will still be other important environmental impacts.

In general, meaningful consultations with and participation of local communities in the project will be essential, as well as the participation of a wide cross-section of civil society organizations and the population in the DRC. intimidation By government authorities to community leaders and other stakeholders.

a An important part of the production of energy production It should be dedicated to increasing the dismal electricity access rate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and supporting local businesses. By contrast, if almost all of the electricity from Inga is devoted to the production of hydrogen exports, there will be criticism from just move Perspective that the continent’s renewable energy sources are being used to fuel Europe and others rather than electrify Africa. Fortunately, Inga can produce enough electricity to power both hydrogen production and domestic production uses.

Moreover, although the project It can stimulate great business opportunities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (particularly during construction), it is likely not enough to satisfy concerns about an equitable distribution of benefits. Inga is a national treasure, and its development should equally benefit everyone.

For this reason, a share of the project’s proceeds should fund programs that benefit the population of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in general, not just a small elite. To that end, it must include the broader Grand Inga framework Mechanisms to direct these revenues to poverty alleviation Extensive development programs across the country. In addition, both billions in initial capital expenditures and subsequent project sales proceeds must be sequestered corruption. Problems in the Democratic Republic of the Congo cobalt And the other industries It should be avoided.

To implement these actions, the project developers and the DRC government will need to involve a variety of partners. This group includes multilateral development banks (such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank), domestic and international civil society, and the international community at large (including the DRC’s bilateral development partners from the European Union and the United States).

The ability of project developers to raise the required funding, and build and operate the facilities, will depend in part on their success in addressing equity and ethics issues. Fortescue’s announcement brings the Grand Inga dream closer to reality, but it also makes designing items to address these non-financial considerations all the more pressing.

Philip Benoit has over 20 years of experience working in international finance, including previously as an investment banker and at the World Bank (where he worked at Inga). He is currently the Managing Director – Energy and Sustainability at Global Infrastructure 2050 Advisory Services.

© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service


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