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Why green hydrogen? Part 2

13 April 2023

The following is an article by Dr Karen Surridge, Project Manager Renewable Energy and Cleaner Fossil Fuels, SANEDI. This is part 2 of a two-part article.

The combination of these resources, as well as the anticipated local demand for green hydrogen created by carbon-intensive industries, makes the country an attractive base for OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) to establish manufacturing plants for the components needed to build RE plants and produce green hydrogen. In addition, South Africa has an established manufacturing industry, expertise in the production of synthetic fuels and a vast labour force that is “completely trainable”, in the words of the country’s Green Hydrogen Commercialisation Strategy.

Local manufacturing creates jobs, energy self-sufficiency and security, and export opportunities, all of which are needed to ensure an energy transition that is not only just but delivers tangible socio-economic benefits to all South Africans.

Green hydrogen state of play

Global demand for hydrogen reached an estimated 90 million tonnes in 2020 and is expected to grow to between 500 million and 680 million tonnes by 2050. Of this, the export market will account for 100 million to 180 million tonnes.

Given this potential, South Africa’s nascent green hydrogen economy is being studied and structured from different angles.

In June 2021 the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition established the Green Hydrogen (GH2) Commercialisation Panel, which is led by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). The panel has private and public sector members and, drawing on the Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) programme and the Hydrogen Society Road Map (HSRM), developed South Africa’s Green Hydrogen Commercialisation Strategy and Action Plan that was approved by Cabinet in 2022.

Over the past few months, Infrastructure SA, a programme within the ministry of public works, identified a pipeline of 19 green hydrogen projects valued at more than R300 billion. The IDC also secured €23 million in grant funds from the German government to support the development of South Africa’s green hydrogen economy and help accelerate the country’s transition to renewable energy.

The notion that, in this process, we could grow into a significant supplier of the raw materials, technology and product the world needs to clean up its energy act, is an exciting and inspiring goal to unite behind for the nation.

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