JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – South Africa is in an extraordinary position to revolutionise its own economy and supply green hydrogen to the world, PwC said on Monday.
“The energy transition is and will be biggest global theme this decade,” PwC associate director James Mackay told journalists at a virtual event covered by Mining Weekly.
But regulation is essential for South Africa to capitalise on the green hydrogen opportunity successfully.
With the world increasingly turning towards countries that have optimal renewable energy resources to provide the clean energy of the future, South Africa is in a position to reap the significant rewards on offer, PwC Africa’s inaugural ‘Unlocking South Africa’s hydrogen potential’ Hydrogen Report 2020 stated. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video.)
PwC Africa energy, utilities and resources expert on hydrogen and energy renewables Jonathan Metcalfe, PwC Africa energy, utilities and resources leader Andries Rossouw and Mackay shared their analysis and insights on South Africa’s green hydrogen energy potential.
The PwC report found that:
- South Africa will be well positioned to secure its own domestic supply of energy that will anchor economic growth, but more importantly become a net exporter of energy in the form of hydrogen-enabled chemicals, fuels and products to high demand markets in Europe and Asia;
- Opportunities exist for South Africa to partake in the global hydrogen economy but will depend largely on investments in renewable energy generation, as well as the development of a clear hydrogen strategy; and
- If South Africa commits to a certain, transparent, stable and accountable policy environment for hydrogen, the country can reap the significant rewards on offer.
South Africa is at a point to make a shift to renewable energy in the face of rolling blackouts, energy shortages, high electricity tariffs and years of under-investment in power infrastructure. Hydrogen could be one of many solutions to the country’s search for alternative energy sources, PwC stated during a virtual media event.
The report deals with the difficulties of decarbonisation, the potential for green hydrogen in South Africa, and the significant opportunity it presents for government and the private sector to embrace.
“This publication is a baseline and in the coming months we’ll be looking at launching further deep dives into specific opportunities, both domestically and internationally,” Metcalfe said.
The report’s key themes are:
- Hydrogen is critical to achieving global decarbonisation;
- The time to act is now;
- South Africa has the competitive advantage to produce and export green hydrogen;
- Hydrogen means more than just fuel cells;
- Investing in hydrogen is necessary to diversify the South African economy; and
- Regulation is key for South Africa to successfully capitalise on the green hydrogen opportunity.
The benefits to South Africa of investing in green hydrogen are:
- the opportunity to leverage its renewable energy resources into green hydrogen, green ammonia and other hydrogen-enabled products as foreign exchange earners;
- the generation of numerous jobs along the value chain and the development of a specialised skills pool;
- the reinforcement of domestic energy supply and the lowering of the landed cost of energy;
- a strengthening of the economy through sector coupling through hydrogen’s capability of carrying energy into a multitude of different sectors;
- decarbonising domestic energy and industrial sectors; and
- supporting mining as a result of hydrogen fuel cells and electrolysers stimulating demand for Southern Africa’s platinum group metals, plus the demand pull for metals and minerals from solar and wind power equipment.
“Never before have we seen more traction around hydrogen, both from a national strategy and roadmap launches in the last 24 months and also increased amounts of funding being freed up across both the public and private sectors to fund hydrogen initiatives,” said Metcalfe.
“Although hydrogen has had false starts in the past, never before have we sat with such a perfect condition of awareness around global emissions and also the cost factor of renewable energy. So, we really do believe that now is the time for hydrogen to play a key role in the energy mix,” he said.
“South Africa has the competitive advantage to produce and export green energy. We really do sit with world-leading solar and wind, particularly our offshore wind. We have the opportunity to capitalise on this and move ourselves from being an energy importer to being an exporter of clean energy through the export of green hydrogen,” said Metcalfe.
ADDITIONAL EXPORT REVENUE
“In order to have successful recovery of the South African economy, we need to start stimulating additional export revenue and playing to the strengths we have and the competitive advantage we have in South Africa. Hydrogen offers a compelling argument to help generate all-important foreign currency going forward, and completely revolutionise the South African economy,” said Metcalfe.