Sasol To Explore Green Hydrogen Production Through Partnerships

  • Petro-chemicals giant, Sasol, has announced that it intends to transition to become a major global green hydrogen supplier and a leading global producer of carbon-neutral jet fuel.
  • The company will explore the creation, in partnership, of a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production demonstration facility based on green hydrogen, at its Secunda operations in Mpumalanga.
  • The CEO also announced that Sasol would partner with Toyota in a joint venture to pursue the development of a “proof-of-concept demonstration for a green hydrogen mobility ecosystem in South Africa”.
  • The announcements were made earlier today at the 2nd Renewable Hydrogen and Green Powerfuels webinar co-hosted by EE Business Intelligence and the British High Commission.
  • Earlier today Sasol also announced that it will partner with Air Liquide in a 900MW renewable energy procurement program in South Africa. Read more 

A consortium comprising Sasol, Linde, ENERTRAG and Navitas would bid, Grobler said, to develop a SAF demonstration plant under the auspices of the German government’s H2Global auction platform.

To manufacture carbon-neutral jet fuel, the consortium would use renewable electricity to produce green hydrogen, through an electrolyser, which would split water into hydrogen and oxygen. In combination with carbon from unavoidable emissions, or a renewable source, the hydrogen will be combined with carbon monoxide to produce a synthesis gas, or syngas. Then, using Sasol’s proprietary Fischer-Tropsch technology, the syngas will be used to produce a wax-like output, from which “green powerfuels” would be refined.

Related news: Sasol reaching new frontiers in carbon emissions

“We know how to handle the wax output, in terms of storage and transport. And we know how to refine it optimally to produce the powerfuels,” Grobler said during a webinar co-hosted by EE Business Intelligence and the British High Commissionearlier today.

Grobler added that decarbonisation was a strategic imperative for Sasol, which had already set an official target of reducing its emissions by 10% by 2030, from a 2017 baseline of 63.9-million carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) tons yearly to 57.5-million CO2e tons.

He also reaffirmed the group’s aspiration to play a leading role in the establishment of a hydrogen economy in South Africa and to be a global leader in emerging power-to-liquids projects, especially in the production of sustainable aviation fuel.

Related news: Institutional investors are forcing Sasol to come clean on their carbon emissions

South Africa’s potent sun and wind resources positioned the country well, Grobler argued, to produce cost-competitive green hydrogen and to create new export opportunities focused on products such as green steel, green ammonia, green hydrogen and sustainable aviation fuel.

Hydrogen Mobility Corridor

At the same event, Sasol also announced its deal with Toyota to develop a “hydrogen mobility corridor” pilot project along the key N3 freight route between Durban and Johannesburg.

The announcement follows hot on the heels of confirmation that the Department of Science and Innovation was spearheading a feasibility study into a ‘hydrogen valley’ anchored in South Africa’s platinum group metals-rich Bushveld geological area. That collaboration agreement includes Anglo American, Engie, the South African National Development Institute, and Bambili Energy.

“To initiate the project, we have commenced the sourcing of fuel-cell electric trucks. In addition, we are evaluating the installation of a hydrogen refuelling station for the demonstration project,” Grobler said.

Toyota South Africa president and CEO Andrew Kirby confirmed the partnership and said that the larger Toyota group currently had a prototype development for a heavy-duty truck, alongside its fuel-cell buses and passenger cars.

“To access these technologies will require a sound value proposition from South Africa that is ultimately enabled through commitments by government,” Kirby said.

Grobler added that the mobility partnership would allow industry to gain valuable first-hand knowledge of hydrogen refuelling stations, the introduction of hydrogen into the heavy-duty truck supply chain and understanding the commercial drivers underpinning the hydrogen mobility value chain.

“During the pilot phase, part of the work will be focused on the creation of an enabling environment, including access to affordable finance, updates to licensing, regulations and tariffs.”

Grobler stressed that the initiatives were not the only two green-hydrogen projects on Sasol’s radar, confirming that the JSE-listed group was also pursuing various other demonstration opportunities and partnerships with the intent of enabling and taking advantage of technology developments and breakthroughs.

“Sasol is currently evaluating several opportunities to leverage our assets and Fischer-Tropsch technology to support South Africa’s energy transition.

“We are in the unique position where we can repurpose existing Sasol facilities and new investments to produce green hydrogen and a range of blue and green fuels and chemicals for the South African and export markets.

“We are in the process of exploring this in Sasolburg and Secunda. In addition, standalone greenfield projects are also being explored,” Grobler concluded.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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