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Collaboration is key to realise SA’s green hydrogen potential

Collaboration is key to realise SA’s green hydrogen potential

Collaboration by stakeholders is key if South Africa is to realise the potential of the green hydrogen sector, which is expensive to produce, delegates at the first edition of the Hydrogen Africa Conference and Expo 2022, held in Sandton, Johannesburg, heard yesterday.

In developing countries like South Africa, there is an opportunity to identify and develop high-impact projects that exploit the decarbonisation potential offered by green hydrogen, while stimulating southern Africa's green hydrogen market, according to Sasol lead partner Sarushen Pillay, who was the keynote speaker.

Pillay said the silver bullet comes from the collective actions of the private sector producers and consumers who were willing to be early adopters and catalyse South Africa's green hydrogen despite the high costs that are prevalent at present.

“The public sector is playing its part in making specific regions, especially economic zones, in developing policy and regulating framework that allows the development of projects, such as the Northern Cape Green Hydrogen hub project,” he said.

Pillay said South Africa had world-class sun, wind and resources. All that was needed was for South Africans and international partners to help green hydrogen projects materialise.

“The social-economic benefits from developing collective at this scale will impact positively on generations of South Africans. The recently published South African Hydrogen Value report states that the hydrogen economy will add between $3.9 billion (R58bn) and $8.9bn to South Africa's GDP (gross domestic product) by 2050 and an additional 14 000 to 30 000 jobs per year across the value chain,” he said.

The Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority’s Yershen Pillay said Africa’s transition to the hydrogen economy should be led by Africans.

“Yes, collaboration is essential for success, but any exploration and exploitation for hydrogen opportunities in the continent should be led by Africans. This is necessary to ensure that legislation and regulations are adequately designed to cope with the rapid advancement of hydrogen,” he said.

In an interview with “Business Report” on the role of Sasol in green hydrogen, Sarushen Pillay said Sasol produced about two-and-a-half million tons of grey hydrogen. The hydrogen comes from coal and natural gas, both fossil fuels.

“We use our official truck’s process to convert that into synthetic fuels and chemicals. That plays a part in decarbonisation strategies to replace that grey hydrogen and transition into clean energy, and by doing that we also are transforming our facilities.

“We want to unlock other value to make green hydrogen available for mobility, and supply intelligence to the market. We see our role as being a catalyst in the green hydrogen market to start the uptake of green hydrogen, but then also to be a big player in the conversion of production of hydrogen derivatives,” he said.

Sasol’s vice-president for climate change, Shamini Harrington, said the collaboration of stakeholders was important for green hydrogen.

“We need to move on to a more collective, and so in the space, you need government, society, business, you need multiplayers playing the role. Why pace and scale? Green hydrogen is an expensive endeavour. We have coal, oil, we have gas, but we don’t have a green solution. We use a great strategy. Collaboration is critical. There is no silver bullet,” she said.


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