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Bambili close to finishing feasibility study on hydrogen fuel cell power system for Anglo’s head office

13th February 2024

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

     

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Diversified mining major Anglo American has selected hydrogen energy solutions company Bambili Energy to deploy a 2 MW hydrogen fuel cell power system lighthouse project to provide electricity at its headquarters in Rosebank, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Bambili Energy CEO Zanele Mavuso Mbatha said on February 12 in Johannesburg that the company would deliver a bespoke 2 MW hydrogen fuel cell power system by beneficiating platinum produced by its Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) subsidiary.

“We are in a feasibility study. I'm pleased to mention that we're almost close to finishing that feasibility study. Basically, we are replacing the diesel generators that are on site with the fuel cell system, and then determining how to get hydrogen to this particular site,” she said.

Mbatha explained that membrane electrode assemblies manufacturer HyPlat would use Amplats’ platinum to manufacture the membrane electrode assemblies, which was a key component in the fuel cell system.

“What's unique about this project is that it shows a mind to market. It's a very unique fuel cell system, and we really hope that in the coming months we can progress this project to conclusion,” she said.

Mbatha said Bambili had partnered with Anglo American, independent power producer Engie and the South African government to conduct technoeconomic analyses to create the business cases for identified fuel cell-related projects, map their potential for positive social impact and define necessary policy actions to create the conditions for implementation.  

Part of these partnerships is to transform Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo into a Hydrogen Valley to catalyse the development of the hydrogen economy, and to develop three hydrogen hubs that will have a sizeable impact, boost economic activities and create green jobs.

At this stage, Mbatha said, three catalytic green hydrogen hubs had been identified in the Valley. The first was the Johannesburg hub, with spokes extending to Rustenburg and Pretoria. The second was the Durban hub, encompassing both Durban and Richards Bay, while the third hub encompassed Mogalakwena and Limpopo.

She said the demand for hydrogen in these hubs could reach up to 185 000 t by 2030, or 40% to 80% of the demand outlined in the draft national hydrogen roadmap.

By 2030, the levelised cost of green hydrogen production is expected to be about $4/kg across the hubs, which is still more expensive than grey hydrogen, with a green premium of about $2/kg to $2.5/kg.

Mbatha said the Hydrogen Valley had strong potential to contribute to the just transition and could potentially add $3.9-billion to $8.8-billion to outh Africa’s gross domestic product by 2050, while also creating a total of 14 000 to 30 000 jobs a year.

She noted, however, that key regulatory and policy enablers were required to launch hydrogen projects and ensure a just transition in the Hydrogen Valley

So far, nine promising pilot projects had been identified to kickstart the Hydrogen Valley in the mobility, industrial and buildings sectors, she said.

Bambili is also a codeveloper with Anglo, Engie, Sasol and Total Energies on South Africa’s first hydrogen transportation corridor, Project Rhynbow, which is aiming to initiate a trial phase next year.

“We are in discussions with Toyota to see if they would join the corridor as well,” Mbatha revealed.

The first part of the trial phase will see about 20 buses being operated alongside a trial of about three trucks supplied by consortium parties.

The second part of the trial phase, planned for between 2026 and 2027, will see the deployment of about 50 trucks and about 50 buses on the road. Mbatha believes that this will be sufficient to warrant the development of a refuelling network along the Durban/Johannesburg N3/N1 routes.

The third part of the trial phase will be rolled out in 2028, once the first viable public network has been established, thereby making a larger deployment of vehicles viable. During this phase, vehicles will operate along the freight corridor. This will include about 500 trucks and on-depot refuelling of about 300 buses.

Mbatha was speaking at a seminar hosted by the Japan External Trade Organisation, which is seeking to promote South African/Japanese collaboration on hydrogen projects in South Africa.

“We welcome Japanese companies who may have interest in joining the consortium as we look to have a fuel cell buses and trucks on South African roads,” Mbatha said.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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