As UN climate talks kicked off in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh, the European Union is moving forward to secure partnerships with developing countries on hydrogen and clean technologies, starting with Kazakhstan.
In its REPowerEU plan presented in May, the European Commission set out an objective to produce ten million tons of renewable hydrogen in Europe and import the same amount by 2030.
And it is now moving forward to secure these supplies. At the COP27 conference in Egypt on Monday (7 November), Commission President Ursula von der Leyen signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Alikhan Smailov establishing a “strategic partnership” between the two sides.
The partnership establishes “closer economic and industrial integration” in raw materials, batteries and renewable hydrogen through the identification of joint projects, the alignment of environmental and social standards as well as the modernisation of mining and refining processes.
“A secure and sustainable supply of raw materials, refined materials and renewable hydrogen is a key layer to help build a new, cleaner foundation for our economies,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.
“We are basically opening a new chapter in our already deep relationship,” she added in comments at the signature ceremony.
The EU already represents 60 % of foreign direct investment in Kazakhstan, von der Leyen underlined, saying the cooperation with Astana will be key to reaching the EU’s climate objectives.
As part of the partnership, the EU and Kazakhstan have committed to develop “a roadmap for 2023-2024”, with concrete joint actions agreed within six months of the signature of the partnership.
Prime Minister Smailov said his country was “ready to offer European companies favourable conditions and the required infrastructure in making the decision to relocate to Kazakhstan,” and invited the Commission President to visit Astana in 2023 to celebrate 30 years of diplomatic relations.
Kazakhstan aims to become a leading producer and exporter of renewable hydrogen. In October, the government concluded an agreement with European renewables group Svevind to build one of the world’s five largest green hydrogen production facilities.
The project will be built in the Mangystau Region near the Caspian Sea, and plans to start producing green hydrogen by 2030 from solar and wind power.
Further agreements on hydrogen taking shape
Other bilateral cooperation agreements are underway at COP27 as part of the EU’s diplomatic efforts. On Tuesday (8 November), von der Leyen met with the President of Namibia, Hage Geingob, were they signed a similar partnership.
And further agreement between the European Union and Egypt on renewable energy and green hydrogen is also expected to be signed during the COP27 climate conference.
The agreement will include “certification of renewable hydrogen which can then be traded between Egypt and Europe,” an EU official explained.
This partnership comes after a meeting in July between Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Egyptian President El Sisi, where the leaders agreed to cooperate on climate, energy and industrial transformation challenges ahead of COP27.
The EU official also mentioned the recent ‘green energy deal’ between the EU and Morocco, signed in October by European Commission deputy head Frans Timmermans and Moroccan chief diplomat Nasser Bourita with the hope it will bolster cooperation on renewable energy.
“Again a mutually beneficial relationship both for Europe and our partners in the South, who obviously have plenty of renewable potential in terms of solar and wind energy,” the official commented.