Paulo Mesquita

Graduated with a degree in Environmental Biophysics Engineering from the University of Évora and a master's degree in Geographic Information Systems and Science from the NOVA University of Lisbon. Over ten years of experience as a geospatial analyst specializing in Environmental and Earth Sciences. Co-responsible for coordinating and managing the HyAfrica project. Current research focus are CO2 transport, CCUS value chains and natural hydrogen.

The HyAfrica project proposes a first step in the understanding of the extraction and utilisation possibilities of natural hydrogen in a set of African countries. Its objective is to assess the resources of natural hydrogen in promising regions of Morocco, Mozambique, South Africa and Togo and to evaluate its social- economic impact, if deployed for power production in standalone or mini-grid systems. Moreover, HyAfrica will allow regional and national authorities in the target countries to increase the share of renewables in the energy mix by developing roadmaps and action plans to pursue strategies for exploiting this renewable energy source and include it in their energy systems. The ultimate aim is to building capacity within the local communities.

A regional scale methodology has been adopted to study the target areas at different strategic levels of importance for natural hydrogen prospection and exploration. These levels range from mapping natural hydrogen occurrences to the business models for energy production. Stakeholders, including regulatory agencies, are also addressed in order to identify the existing bottlenecks to natural hydrogen exploration and to feed the development of roadmaps to bypass them in the future. 

The procedure of mapping natural hydrogen is based on a synergy between field work, geological analysis and geophysical modelling. Field work, conducted by local teams, performs in situ probing of hydrogen at shallow depths with dedicated sensors. Geological and geophysical analysis infer the presence of any deep-level geological controls that may govern the occurrence of natural hydrogen seeps on a regional level, the analysis of geophysical data provides a qualitative characterization of prospective areas and the development of geophysical models produce quantitative conceptual geological models. Besides the mapping of natural hydrogen resources socio-economical evaluations are also conducted. Stakeholders are identified and invited to participate in workshops that allow to disseminate the project results and to collect feedback on regulatory and policy issues and use opportunities for natural hydrogen. The stakeholders feedback is then considered as the first step in the development of exploitation roadmaps and business cases that are some of the project main outcomes.

Hundreds of field measurements were executed in the South African target area with the results showing numerous locations with existence of hydrogen at concentrations above expected values. The geological and geophysical analysis are studying both serpentinization of iron-rich rocks and natural radiolysis as possible hydrogen sources, and the faults and lineaments of the region as structural control for the hydrogen ascension to the surface.

This work will present the preliminary integrated results for the HyAfrica South Africa target region, focusing on mapping the natural hydrogen occurrence, stakeholders engagement process, regulatory issues and potential use cases and business models.

Authors list: P. Mesquita1, J. Carneiro1, A. Bumby2, A. Smit2, N. Hammond3, S. Masango3, N. Gumede2, S. Huggins2, T. Mokobodi3, N. Kotsedi3, R. Christiansen4, G. Gabriel4, S. Mondlane5, E. Duque6,  A. Barkaoui7

1 CONVERGE, Lda, Portugal

2 University of Pretoria, South Africa

3 University of Limpopo, South Africa

4 Leibniz Institute for Applied Geophysics, Germany

5 Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique

Fraunhofer IEE, Germany

7 Université Mohammed Premier, Morocco

Paulo Mesquita

Converge, Lda / University of Évora


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