'SA determined to become a world leader in green hydrogen,' says Ramaphosa

29 November 2022 - 13:48
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President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the South African Green Hydrogen Summit in Cape Town on Tuesday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the South African Green Hydrogen Summit in Cape Town on Tuesday.
Image: GCIS.

President Cyril Ramaphosa believes the potential for South Africa to emerge as a significant player in the green hydrogen value chain is immense.

“Globally the demand for green hydrogen and green hydrogen-based products, such as ammonia and synthetic jet fuels, is rising significantly.

“This presents a unique opportunity for South Africa and the continent to link its mineral endowment with its renewable energy endowment to drive industrialisation,” Ramaphosa said at the inaugural South African Green Hydrogen summit in Cape Town on Tuesday.

He said the summit, which comes after the COP27 in Egypt, builds on a foundation laid by the sustainable infrastructure development symposium held in 2021, which highlighted the country’s potential as a global exporter of green energy.

“South Africa used the platform of COP27 to elaborate on our just green transition. We recently released for public comment a just energy transition investment plan as the basis for our pathway towards a low-carbon and climate-resilient society.

The plan has been well received across our country and the world.”

Ramaphosa said the plan outlined that South Africa needs approximately $98bn (about R1.6-trillion) over the next five years “to enable a just transition and achieve our ambitious emissions reduction targets”.

He said green hydrogen is identified in the investment plan as one of the four “big frontiers” of a just energy transition, indicating it has huge growth and investment potential.

Such investment will create jobs, attract investment, bring development to rural provinces and support a just transition from fossil fuels.

South Africa and Zimbabwe hold more than 90% of the world’s known platinum group metal reserves.

“Since 30% to 40% of the supply goes into the production of catalytic converters for internal combustion vehicles, the initial focus of the research was on hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles as an alternative market to the internal combustion engine vehicle.”

He said South Africa was estimated to have the potential to produce 6-million to 13-million tons of green hydrogen and derivatives a year by 2050.

“To do so would require between 140 and 300 gigawatts of renewable energy. The focus would be on green hydrogen exports, electrolyser and fuel cell production, and the manufacture of green steel, sustainable aviation fuel, ammonia, fertilisers and renewable energy components.”

He told the gathering South Africa was ideal for investors.

“This country is favourable, reliable and a stable place to conduct business. We are driving regulatory and legislative reform to make our economy more competitive and attract more investment so we can create more jobs.

“South Africa has a supportive legislative environment and experience in the deployment of renewable energy, with the largest installed capacity of wind and solar power projects on the African continent.”

He said companies such as Sasol and PetroSA have expertise in the production of synthetic fuels including diesel, petrol and kerosene, and a range of chemical products.

South Africa produces 2.4-million tons of grey hydrogen for domestic consumption.

Sasol and the Northern Cape provincial government have made significant progress on the master plan for a green hydrogen special economic zone which aims to support 40 gigawatts of electrolyser capacity by 2050.

“This would require approximately 80 gigawatts of renewable energy, which is almost double South Africa’s current installed electricity generation capacity.”

Ramaphosa said Transnet has issued a request for proposals for the development of additional port and rail infrastructure.

He said he looked forward to welcoming more firms in the sector.

“We hope to see international firms partnering with South African firms as we increase our renewable energy footprint, green hydrogen manufacturing capability and local production of value added products.”


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