Japan’s ITOCHU and Hive Hydrogen SA sign memorandum of co-operation on $5.8bn Coega Green Ammonia export project

  • ITOCHU Corporation and Hive Hydrogen have agreed to work together on matters of viable green hydrogen and ammonia project development, production, operation, marketing, off take and distribution.
  • A historic Memorandum of Co-operation between Japan and South Africa was agreed on 25 September 2023 in Tokyo, recognising that South Africa has the capacity and ability to be an internationally competitive producer of hydrogen and green ammonia.

Thulani Gcabashe (Chairman Hive Hydrogen SA) and Shinya Ishizuka (CEO ITOCHU Africa Bloc) sign the Memorandum of Cooperation witnessed by His Excellency the Ambassador of Japan Ushio Shigeru (Top Right) and Baphelele Mhlaba (Chief Of Staff at Office of the Premier – Eastern Cape)

Hive Hydrogen SA [Hive] and ITOCHU Corporation [ITOCHU] celebrated the signing of their Memorandum of Co-operation (MoC) on Friday 8 December in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa to advance Hive’s Coega Green Ammonia Export Project [Project].

The purpose of this MoC is to clearly identify the important areas for Hive and ITOCHU to engage on that will enable them to each achieve their respective green hydrogen and ammonia business objectives in a strategic, structured, assured, and cost-effective manner.

This MoC provides a framework to develop a least cost green ammonia solution that includes inter alia ITOCHU’s potential involvement as a strategic equity investor and off taker in relation to the Project.

Both Parties recognise that the development of the Project requires further technical, regulatory, and market development, including the engagement of key supply chain members and governments.

ITOCHU and Hive also agreed to work together to understand the timing, scale, and market demand for green ammonia, and how to best phase the plant development and construction to enhance project viability.

Kagami Biraki, – the ITOCHU-Hive celebratory Sake Cask Opening ceremony

Colin Loubser (General Manager Hive Hydrogen, Baphelele Mhlaba (Chief Of Staff at Office of the Premier – Eastern Cape),  Thulani Gcabashe (Chairman Hive Hydrogen SA) and Shinya Ishizuka (CEO ITOCHU Africa Bloc) and His Excellency the Ambassador of Japan Ushio Shigeru (Top Right)

Hive Chairman, Thulani Gcabashe, remarked: “This is a historic milestone for the project following an exciting period of engagement with ITOCHU in Japan and their very dynamic office in South Africa. The huge positive impact that this project will have on Nelson Mandela Bay, the Eastern Cape, and indeed South Africa is welcomed by us all and we look forward to working together towards a meaningful offtake agreement and investment in the project by ITOCHU.”

Shinya Ishizuka, CEO of ITOCHU Africa Bloc, commented: “This MoC represents another big step forward for ITOCHU in its growing leadership role in building a sustainable, clean fuel supply chain of green ammonia to the far east and globally.  With this collaborative development of green ammonia, ITOCHU aims to create a wide range of ammonia value chains in various existing industrial applications and will support our clients and industries in achieving low carbonization goals.”

Coega is Hive’s flagship green hydrogen and ammonia project. Initially, the renewable energy capacity for the development is around 3.6 GW of solar PV and onshore wind generation, with further sites identified totalling more than 12GW for additional phases of the project. Once operational, which is planned for 2028, this site is expected to export green ammonia, green hydrogen, and potentially ammonium nitrate too from Coega.

ITOCHU Corporation is a leading Japanese conglomerate engaged in domestic and international trading and investment. Having approximately 90 offices in 61 countries worldwide, it is active in multiple sectors including the textile, machinery, mining and metals, energy, chemicals, food, general products, realty, information and communications technology and finance. ITOCHU has established contributions to SDGs and strengthening of its SDG initiatives as one of its Basic Policies in its Medium-term Management Plan. Under this policy, ITOCHU aims to contribute towards building a decarbonized society and has been strengthening initiatives for the establishment of a value chain of stable supply of ammonia, export, development of ammonia-fuelled ships and bunkering business, and use for fertilizer-related applications.

Hive Hydrogen South Africa is co-founded by Hive Energy and BuiltAfrica. Hive Energy, is the 75% stakeholder of Hive Hydrogen SA and is the principal funder and co-developer of the project.

BuiltAfrica has a 25% stake in Hive Hydrogen South Africa and is a co-developer. It is a renewable energy development company based in South Africa and was founded by Thulani Gcabashe in 2009 as an investment and development business focused on sectors that support sustainable development. In its first 10 years, the Group focused on developing renewable energy projects in South Africa, having successfully participated in the early rounds of renewable energy procurement under the South African government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP). During this period two solar generation plants were built and are in operation. In addition to this, the BuiltAfrica Group was involved in energy efficiency projects aimed at lowering peak demand on the power system.

Thulani Gcabashe served as Chairman of the Standard Bank Group, and the Standard Bank of South Africa from 2015 – 2022 and is the current chairman of Hive Hydrogen SA. He began his career as a town and regional planner in 1982. After practicing as a director with a firm of architects and town planners he joined the national power utility Eskom in 1993. In 1999 he was appointed Deputy Chief Executive of Eskom, and Chairman Eskom Enterprises and served on the Eskom Management Board and the Electricity Council. In 2000 he become the Chief Executive of Eskom, a position he served in until 30 April 2007. In 2008 he founded the BuiltAfrica Group and has served as the Executive Chairman since inception.