As global momentum continues to grow across the hydrogen industry, South Africa’s opportunity to produce zero carbon hydrogen has “caught the attention of the global energy players”, says Trade, Industry and Competition Deputy Minister Fikile Majola.
Coinciding with this global growth in interest in green hydrogen is South Africa’s “extraordinary position to revolutionise its own economy and support green hydrogen” by becoming a producer thereof.
Although prompted by climate change, Majola says the global energy transition is not driven by technology, innovation and commercial returns, but rather that global energy models are shifting from the historic reliance on extraction and processing of fossil fuels to future models based on conversion free and abundant natural resources.
It is clear that “the hydrogen economy is a potential game changer for the whole world” and that South Africa is well positioned to participate in this rapidly developing global hydrogen economy given its abundance of renewable energy resources.
The development of South Africa's hydrogen economy is also a significant opportunity to create domestic growth and development, improve energy security and transition to a low-carbon economy and society.
Subsequently, Majola says government has appointed a Presidential Climate Commission to oversee a just transition.
HYDROGEN SOCIETY ROADMAP
In response to South Africa's climate change goals and economic development opportunities afforded by the hydrogen economy, Cabinet has moved to prioritise the Hydrogen Society Roadmap for South Africa.
The roadmap provides a high-level framework for the development of a domestic hydrogen economy.
Among the recommendations made in the roadmap is to establish South Africa as a hydrogen producer through developing a green hydrogen commercialisation strategy that will apply a commercial opportunity and development approach for a viable, green hydrogen investor sector.
This sector, Majola explains, will be able to service both the export, as well as domestic demand, as it will establish a new long-term investor cluster.
Capability will, however, require both route, policy and government support to determine South Africa’s road to growth.
“Developing a domestic hydrogen economy also gives effect to government's strategic platinum-group metals (PGMs) beneficiation objectives,” Majola notes.
He explains that South Africa's abundance of PGMs is a “key ingredient” for the hydrogen economy, as it puts the country in a strong position to produce green hydrogen, while optimising key value chains within South Africa's mining sector.
With more than 80% of the world's platinum reserves located on home soil, Majola believes the country’s platinum resource advantage could be exploited to position South Africa as a significant global player in the global green hydrogen economy.
*Majola presented a keynote address on October 14 during episode two of the Hydrogen Economy Indaba.