Ambitious projects are under way to produce green hydrogen in South Africa

In recognition of the global proliferation of sustainable energy, and considering COP27 and SA’s international law obligations under the Paris Agreement, the country is strengthening its contributions and efforts towards climate change mitigation.


These steps are crucial if we are to have a clean, affordable, sustainable and bright energy future. In addition, investing in clean energy has the potential to boost economic growth and the attainment of social justice in the country.


In line with this, the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) announced late last year that it has adopted a hydrogen investment strategy to facilitate the development of the hydrogen value chain in SA.


The announcement means the government, through the Hydrogen Roadmap, has identified the PIC as a co-investor in hydrogen projects. What does this investment mean for the country?

Green hydrogen would appear to be one of the most promising potential solutions to SA’s energy issues, in that it is an alternative clean source of energy that supports climate change mitigation and can help reduce the country’s carbon footprint.


In addition to this, green hydrogen has the potential to address the fundamental needs of rural parts of the country that are not connected to the national power grid, and at the same time facilitate a just transition away from fossil fuels. 


SA has an abundant source of natural renewable resources, in particular solar and wind, to meet the energy needs of the local market and ultimately contribute to a green hydrogen export market.


The exportation of green hydrogen has the potential to create thousands of direct and indirect sustainable jobs and provide unprecedented stimulation to the economy. It is hoped that this investment strategy will go a long way towards addressing the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment. 


Ambitious projects have been initiated to produce green hydrogen. Among these is Sasol’s Boegoebaai special economic zone project, which is investigating whether a green hydrogen global export plant is feasible.


Then there is the Platinum Valley initiative, which is geared to establish a hydrogen corridor from Limpopo through Johannesburg to Durban, to promote hydrogen consumption in the transport industry.


In addition, the Coalco2-X Project aims to harness green hydrogen and pollutants from coal-fired boilers to produce value-added products and aid the transition to a decarbonised energy system.


There is also a project aimed at realising sustainable aviation fuel as an economical and viable product for the aviation industry. The Hive Hydrogen project in Nelson Mandela Bay is working on a huge power-banking arrangement that has the potential to end load-shedding there by 2026, and an electrolysis plant project is planned for Jeffreys Bay that will have green hydrogen production capacity of about 9.8-tonnes a year.


Energy transition


The PIC’s investment in green hydrogen project development is a significant step in SA’s energy transition. The PIC is by far the largest asset managers on the continent, controlling more than 10% of the JSE. It has direct and indirect exposure to almost all sectors of the economy. 

While the production of green energy raises some concerns, innovation will address these issues. The pace of innovation can be expected to increase exponentially with the development of green hydrogen in, among other countries, SA, Morocco and Australia.

At the same time we can expect to see a corresponding expansion in green hydrogen markets such as Europe, and rising demand for the product should prove an incentive for producers. 





Read the original publication at CMS.

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