Sasol capitalising on green hydrogen opportunities

2nd August 2021 By: Tasneem Bulbulia - Creamer Media Reporter

Green hydrogen can play a significant role globally in decarbonising hard-to-abate industries, and can be an energy source for mobility and industry, and a source of hydrogen for the petrochemical industry.

This was the message given by chemicals company Sasol 2.0 Transformation executive VP Marius Brand, speaking during the ‘Positioning South Africa for the Green Economy – Execution Strategies’ webinar, hosted by business management consultant EE Business Intelligence, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) and Isondo Precious Metals on July 16.

Green hydrogen presents a unique opportunity for the South African economy to reindustrialise, creating sustainable growth and enabling a just transition.

Brand stated that Sasol is well-positioned to play a leading role in developing the South African hydrogen economy through its market knowledge, technology, capabilities and assets.

Many of Sasol’s petrochemical products and processes require hydrogen as input, and green hydrogen can, therefore, help Sasol create a pathway to decarbonisation.

Brand said that, given the outstanding solar and wind endowments that South Africa possesses, green hydrogen has the potential to unlock significant value for the country sustainably.

Sasol believes hydrogen has the potential to reshape the South African energy landscape, but that there must be specific enablers in place, including a national hydrogen strategy, regulatory consistency, infrastructure developments, value chain development, affordable finance, value chain partnerships and joint ventures, research and development related to hydrogen technologies and, importantly, skills development for this sector.

“Creating an ecosystem is required to have both the supply side and also the market side in place, and Isondo plays very importantly into this process,” Brand emphasised.

Ecosystem creation is central to the uptake of green hydrogen technologies, especially in the mobility sector. Some recent announcements that Sasol has made in this space included the partnership with automotive company Toyota to explore hydrogen mobility corridors, and partnerships with the Gauteng provincial government and the Industrial Development Corporation to create hubs as part of the South African reindustrialisation drive.

Owing to South Africa’s excellent endowment of renewable energy sources and the growing international demand for green hydrogen, Brand stressed that the export of green hydrogen to overseas markets represented an excellent opportunity for the country.

Sasol is eager to be a player in this emerging industry, and Brand emphasised that it was imperative for the country to act now to capitalise on this opportunity.

Moreover, there is opportunity for green hydrogen in other industries such as explosives, steel, transport and fertiliser.

As the only producer of ammonia in South Africa, Sasol will explore opportunities to use green hydrogen to produce green ammonia.

Brand highlighted that, in addition to explosives and fertiliser production from ammonia, green ammonia can also be used to transport renewable energy to major use areas for its energy potential.

Sasol is also working with partners on a catalytic project to produce sustainable aviation fuels from green hydrogen at its Secunda operations, that could be scaled to make South Africa a major sustainable aviation fuel regional supplier hub.