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DSI’s Maserumule reiterates South Africa’s green hydrogen ambitions

24th February 2022

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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South Africa is looking to build out funding opportunities and partnerships with international donors and countries that are aiming to decarbonise their own economies through the use of green hydrogen, Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) hydrogen and energy chief director Rebecca Maserumule said this week.

In an address at the Energy & Mines virtual summit, on February 23, she outlined the highlights of South Africa’s newly released Hydrogen Society Roadmap, which was unveiled by Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande earlier in the month.

"The roadmap aims to create an inclusive, sustainable and competitive hydrogen economy by 2050, and achieve just and inclusive net-zero carbon economic growth for societal wellbeing by 2050.

“Its purpose is to align stakeholders around a common vision for hydrogen-related technologies in terms of ensuring South Africa can capture the societal benefits from them," she said.

The roadmap envisages building an initial 1 MW of installed electrolyser capacity by 2024 at the latest and then scaling up the hydrogen economy between 2025 and 2030. The aim is to have 15 GW of installed electrolyser capacity in the Northern Cape, as well as 1.7 GW of electrolyser capacity in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, by 2030.

The roadmap envisages adding an additional 15 GW of deployed electrolyser capacity between 2030 and 2040.

Further, the DSI hopes to colocate green hydrogen production with use across buses, building energy systems and the energy sector, Maserumule noted.

"Over the next three years, we will be pursuing demonstration projects and scale those up to bring down the total cost of ownership. For example, we are looking at at least 100 hydrogen-powered buses across various metropolitan areas, as well as hydrogen-powered forklifts for materials handling and rolling out refuelling stations.

"Further, South Africa is also looking at demonstration of green hydrogen as an input for sustainable aviation fuels and ethanol production," she added.

She stated that mobility would probably be the first sector to see significant penetration of green hydrogen technology, with at least 500 hydrogen-fueled buses expected to be in operation by 2030.

Demonstration projects will also be replicated into bankable projects in terms of industry, Maserumule stated.

"We are also looking at coupling consumption of hydrogen across sectors to scale up domestic consumption. Also in the near term, we are looking at scaling up training, tertiary and other post-secondary education, and are aiming for a minimum of 20 000 jobs by 2030 and an additional 30 000 jobs by 2040."


The DSI had identified 70 key actions that are required to enable its objectives of creating an enabling environment. Among them, in the decarbonisation of the transport sector, an important first step is to classify hydrogen as a transport fuel.

This requires enabling regulations and imposing of standards for hydrogen refuelling, especially to ensure cars can refuel using hydrogen, she noted.

Further actions include creating a regulatory framework to support zero-emissions transport across road, rail and shipping. This is important and relevant for mines to transport ore to domestic end-users and to the ports for export to international offtakers.

"Given the cross-border adjustments for Scope 2 emissions, mining companies can remove this if they use hydrogen heavy-duty trucks on the roads, for example. This action would also require building fuelling stations where buses, heavy-duty vehicles and taxis can refuel to ensure sufficient scale, as well as enhance operational understanding of the technology and reduce costs in the transport sector," she illustrated.

Meanwhile, decarbonisation of energy-intensive industries could be achieved through national strategic infrastructure projects. Such projects can reduce legislative and administrative delays from 18 months to 51 days, and the DSI considers this acceleration of administrative processes as critical to support investment in these projects.

"A second component of such national strategic projects would be the implementation of parallel projects, such as those under the special economic zones and Hydrogen Valley initiatives.

"The reason the DSI and the Hydrogen Society Roadmap consider this aspect critical is because it is needed to derisk infrastructure investments across industries and industrial players. They are also catalytic projects that can be put in place with current regulations, and these will also be important to get the mining sector involved in green hydrogen," she said.

For example, the Hydrogen Valley initiative is about creating opportunities to scale-up demand in mining and industry, such as the steel and iron sector, and to derisk investments in terms of diversification of offtake from various sectors in the economy.

The DSI is, through the roadmap, aiming to lower the cost of green hydrogen production to be in line with that of producing blue hydrogen by 2030.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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