Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy has welcomed the South African government’s announced intention to establish a dedicated green grid, electrolyser park and green hydrogen-related special economic zone (SEZ), in the Northern Cape.
A statement issued by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) notes that the Northern Cape Hydrogen Strategy, with anchor investor Sasol, was announced to the international investment community during the COP26 climate change summit, which is under way, in Glasgow, Scotland.
Creecy says the South African Hydrogen Society Roadmap envisions the country moving from research and development to manufacturing and commercialisation of hydrogen products and services, contributing to job creation and skills development, particularly in marginalised sectors of society.
The Minister states that the Northern Cape hydrogen SEZ development aligns with the DFFE’s declaration of the expanded western Strategic Energy Corridor in the Northern Cape.
“Over the past few years, the department undertook strategic environmental assessments to identify renewable energy development zones and strategic energy corridors, in which large-scale grid infrastructure expansion could be incentivised.
“This was done to proactivity identify environmental sensitivities and assist in orientating infrastructure development away from areas of high environmental sensitivity, allowing for a streamlined environmental authorisation process which speeds up development, while maintaining the highest environmental protection.”
Creecy adds that, through this process, the DFFE has heeded the call by President Cyril Ramaphosa to cut red tape and to halve the authorisation timeframe for transmission-scale electricity grid infrastructure and reduce the timeframe for electricity grid development from seven to three years by allowing a pre-negotiated route to be submitted for authorisation – which significantly simplified the servitude negotiation process.
Accordingly, Creecy says, her department is committed to supporting this important initiative for the country and looks forward to working with the Northern Cape Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Rural Development and Land Reform to make it a reality.