Israeli, Moroccan energy firms sign MOU at COP27 in Egypt

Israeli company H2Pro and Moroccan renewable energy developer Gaia Energy signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the COP27 in Egypt.

  VIEW of a COP27 sign on the road leading to the conference area in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. (photo credit: Sayed Sheasha/Reuters)
VIEW of a COP27 sign on the road leading to the conference area in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
(photo credit: Sayed Sheasha/Reuters)

SHARM E-SHEIKH – Taking matters from the bottom up, Israeli company H2Pro and Moroccan renewable energy developer Gaia Energy signed a Memorandum of Understanding Tuesday at the UN Climate Conference (COP27) in Sharm l-Sheik, Egypt. The signing by each company’s chief officers took place at the first-ever Israeli pavilion to be built at a UN Climate Conference and in front of Israel’s Director of Egypt & Middle East Peace for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr. Lior Ben Dor, Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg, and the Moroccan Israeli Chamber of Commerce Jonathan Levy.

Under the agreement, Gaia will use a range of H2Pro’s electrolyzer technology for a demo project at a renewable energy site in Morocco. They will simultaneously explore use of H2Pro’s technology for a larger commercial site currently under development by Gaia in Morocco.

Before taking a separate meeting in Israel’s pavilion, Minister of Regional Cooperation Esawi Frej stopped to comment on the signing of the MOU, saying he was glad to see the deal roll out with Morocco because it’s a country that works with Israel in the public eye, unlike the Emirates or Jordan, which often do business with Israel, but do so privately.

“Some countries want to be with us like a mistress, they don’t let anyone know about our relationship. It’s not for the public. But with Moroccans, it’s different. They want us. They speak with us. It’s done clearly and on the table. That’s why I put my focus on how to promote our relationship with the Moroccans,” Frej said.

The minister recently put funding into a Moroccan music festival that included 60 Israeli artists.

 Interrelated crises with reciprocal feedback: Pollution, Climate change and Activity that Impairs Biodiversity (credit: studiovin/Shutterstock) Interrelated crises with reciprocal feedback: Pollution, Climate change and Activity that Impairs Biodiversity (credit: studiovin/Shutterstock)

“I hope that the new government will continue in this way and I believe we’re leaving many good things for them. I will continue my struggle to bring Arabs to Jews together and countries to countries and people to people. It’s very important for me to make Israel part of the Middle East. This is the way we can make peace and reach our dreams.”

H2Pro and Gaia to collaborate

Headquartered in Caesarea, Israel, H2Pro splits water into hydrogen and oxygen in the most efficient way. The green hydrogen made from their electrolyzers are used for a variety of clean energy applications. At the Moroccan sites, the H2Pro systems will be powered by Gaia’s renewable electricity.. Gaia, using the abundant Moroccan land, sun and wind will be able to use the H2Pro solution to mass produce green energy and export it just 100 miles over into Europe.

H2Pro was founded in 2019 based on research conducted at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. The company is backed by Bills Gates’ climate fund Breakthrough Energy amongst others.

Gaia Energy is a large-scale renewable energy developer in Africa. They are one of the first local companies to develop large-scale renewable energy projects in Africa and are already working with more than 10 countries. Their large utilities work with national grid operators and governments to energize Africa.

Gaia’s CEO Moundir Zniber opened the signing ceremony with words about his vision.

“Imagine in the future, instead of exporting oil from the Middle East or South America, you’ll have countries like Morocco that will produce the massive scale of green derivatives of hydrogen, and green fuels from Morocco to the northern countries and it’s an honor to be here at the beginning. It’s like the beginning of the internet bubble,” Zniber said.

The entrepreneur said he has been invested in green energy from the age of seven and that when he started to put his plans into action, people doubted him.

“I had this vision since the beginning that Morocco could produce massive renewables for Europe, but at that time everyone thought I was crazy. Ideas that seem to be nonsense in a certain period seem to be genius years after,” Zniber said.

He went on to explain that once renewable energy started to look profitable, more companies became interested and he was able to move ahead in business.

“Looking at the countries which are part of the Abraham Accords and being able to partner with them means strengthening the relationship between Israel and these countries, it's important and should be important to anyone in Israel because it's our future. It’s our neighborhood,”

CEO Talmon Marco

H2Pro first approached Gaia with a simple LinkedIn message. Now, CEO Talmon Marco says the signing is the first of multiple steps to deploy equipment with Gaia, one of the largest renewable developers in the world. He said Morocco is a good fit, especially for its sun, wind and land and also says its stable business environment.

“Looking at the countries which are part of the Abraham Accords and being able to partner with them means strengthening the relationship between Israel and these countries, it's important and should be important to anyone in Israel because it's our future. It’s our neighborhood,” Marco said.

Dr. Ben-Dor who represented Israel’s government from the Foreign Ministry said he was inspired by the deal. He also closed his remarks by speaking to Zniber in Arabic, which garnered a warm response.

“I’m happy to see the tangible fruits of the peace treaty we signed almost two years ago, of course, this peace treaty opened the gate widely for all this cooperation,” Dr. Ben-Dor said.

The ceremony ended with a full signing, where each chief officer signed and initialed all pages in the contract and finished the deal with a handshake. Marco said we can expect to see more deals like this one coming out from multiple potential partners in Europe, North America and maybe even more countries in Israel’s backyard.