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Germany affirms value of green energy research cooperation with South Africa

German Federal Minister of Education and Research Bettina Stark-Watzinger

German Federal Minister of Education and Research Bettina Stark-Watzinger

Photo by German Federal Government

28th March 2023

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Germany sees international cooperation as the only way to deal with the issue of climate change and views South Africa and South African research institutions as valuable partners in this regard. This was a message conveyed by Federal German Government Education and Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger in Cape Town, on Monday evening.

“Global challenges can only be solved globally,” she pointed out in an exclusive interview with Engineering News, at the University of Cape Town (UCT). “We have to cooperate. We saw it in the pandemic crisis. Climate change is similar. South Africa and UCT are strong partners. Sasol also.”

She was visiting UCT’s Chemical Engineering department, to be briefed on two green energy projects that Germany was providing funding for. These are sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) project ‘Care-O-Sene’ and green household cooking gas project Green-Quest. Germany had allocated €4.5-million to Green-Quest and €38-million to Care-O-Sene.

“Mobility is so important,” she explained. “It’s freedom, it’s prosperity. We can share goods from all over the world. But mobility produces carbon dioxide. So, we must retain mobility but preserve the future for the generations to come. Germany is an exporting country; we need to ensure mobility.”  

The basic research for both projects is being undertaken at UCT. Sasol is a major partner in both projects. The other major partner in both projects is Germany’s Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin. Each project also has a number of other collaborators, both German and South African, unique to it (for example, South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is a partner in Green-Quest but not in Care-O-Sene).

The aim of Care-O-Sene is to develop a new generation of catalysts for the Fischer-Tropsch process, which will significantly increase the efficiency of the process (from the current 50% to 70% to more than 80%). The Fischer-Tropsch process allows the conversion of hydrogen and carbon dioxide into SAF. The power for this would be provided by green-generated electricity. (South Africa, and in particular Sasol, has more than 70 years’ experience with this process.)

Green-Quest aims to create a green production method for liquified fuel gas (LFG) in Southern Africa. The aim is for LFG to replace the wood, charcoal and coal currently typically employed in the region’s poor households. The project covers much more than technology, as to be of value, the green LFG will have to be easily available and affordable to these poor households. So Green-Quest includes economic, environmental and social dimensions as well as the technological dimension.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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