Gates Opening in South Africa for Gigawatt Scale Green Hydrogen Projects

  • South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has confirmed that green hydrogen is identified in the Investment Plan as one of the four ‘big frontiers’ of a just energy transition, indicating that it has huge growth and investment potential.
  • He was speaking at the recently held South Africa Green Hydrogen Summit in Century City, Cape Town yesterday. 

He said the globally, the demand for green hydrogen and green hydrogen-based products, such as ammonia and synthetic jet fuels, is rising significantly. “This presents a unique opportunity for South Africa to link its mineral endowment with its renewable energy endowment to drive industrialisation. At the same, it will create jobs, attract investment, bring development to rural provinces and support a just transition from fossil fuels.”

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“It is estimated that South Africa has the potential to produce 6 to 13 million tons of green hydrogen and derivatives a year by 2050. To do so would require between 140 and 300 gigawatts of renewable energy. The focus would be on green hydrogen exports, electrolyser and fuel cell production, and the manufacture of green steel, sustainable aviation fuel, ammonia, fertilizers and renewable energy components.

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Last year at the Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium, we began to profile the remarkable work that a number of large and emerging South African companies were doing in the green hydrogen sector. These include the Boegoebaai Port and Rail project. The project has been under development for over two decades and was gazetted as a Strategic Integrated Project in 2020.

Sasol and the Northern Cape provincial government have made significant progress on the master plan for a green hydrogen special economic zone, which aims to support 40 gigawatts of electrolyser capacity by 2050. This would require approximately 80 gigawatts of renewable energy, which is almost double South Africa’s current installed electricity generation capacity.

Transnet has issued a request for proposals for the development of the port and rail project, which could see the port developed by 2028.

The Prieska Power Reserve Project, which is being led by Mahlako a Phala, a black women owned renewable energy developer, has made major progress over the last year. It has received most of the required environmental approvals and its water use licence and has brought in the Industrial Development Corporation as an equity partner.

Another initiative is the development of a Hydrogen Valley that would link the three hydrogen hubs of Mogalakwena in Limpopo, Johannesburg and the Durban – Richards Bay hub. This initiative is being led by the Department of Science and Innovation and supported by Anglo American, Bambili Energy and Engie.

Nine catalytic projects have been identified as part of this initiative, including the successful demonstration by Anglo American in May 2022 of the world’s first, largest mine haul truck to run on hydrogen and fuel cells.

The potential for South Africa to emerge as a significant player in the green hydrogen value chain is immense,” concluded Ramaphosa.

Related news: Bloomberg – South Africa’s green hydorgen plan will need US$14 billion

South Africa’s Green Hydrogen National Program currently consists of 19 projects:

  • Western Cape: Atlanthia Green Hydrogen
  • Free State: Sasolburg Green Hydrogen 60M
  • Northern Cape: The Prieska Power Reserve, The Ubuntu Green Energy Hydrogen Project, Boegoebaai Green Hydrogen Development and Upilanga Solar and Green H2 Park
  • Mpumalanga: SASOL HySHiFT (Secunda)
  • Eastern Cape: HIVE Ammonia

Additional projects include those that fall under the Hydrogen Valley Programme of Anglo-American and their joint venture partners:

  • Western Cape: Mainstream Renewable Energy Hydrogen, AMSA Saldanha Steel Hydrogen, Saldanha bay Green Hydrogen Project, Cape Stack
  • Northern Cape: Enertrag Postmasburg Project (Ammonia)
  • Mpumalanga: HDF Energy Renewable Energy, IPM 1
  • Eastern Cape: Enertrag Indigen Project, (e-methanol)
  • Gauteng: Isondo Fuel Cell MEAs Manufacturing and Isondo / NCP Vehicles
  • Free State: Project Phoenix fuel cell manufacturing

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

Green hydrogen production will be a hot topic at the Africa leading energy conference and exhibition, the Africa Energy Indaba

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