President Cyril Ramaphosa
JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Over the past year, the South African government has built on its successful hydrogen strategy to make major strides in positioning the country as a global leader in the green hydrogen market, President Cyril Ramaphosa stated during his State of the Nation Address.
This positioning includes the development of a hydrogen society roadmap for the next ten years as well as a green hydrogen strategy for the Northern Cape, supporting the development of a green hydrogen pipeline worth around R270-billion, the president said.
In the last year, South Africa had, he added, made important strides in the fight against climate change, while at the same time securing the country’s economic competitiveness.
For the first time, South Africa’s climate targets were, he said, compatible with limiting warming to 1.5 °C.
Such limiting is the goal that all countries agreed to, as part of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Ramaphosa described the prevention of the worst effects of climate change as being essential.
Since he established the Presidential Climate Commission a little more than a year ago, it had done much work to support a just transition to a sustainable, inclusive, resilient and low-carbon economy, he said.
At the international climate conference in Glasgow last November, South Africa struck a historic R131-billion deal with the European Union, France, Germany, the UK and the US.
“This first-of-its-kind partnership will involve repurposing and repowering some of the coal plants that are reaching the end of their lives, and creating new livelihoods for workers and communities most impacted by this change,” he said.
To ensure that South Africa was able to derive the full benefit of this and other partnerships, the President has appointed former Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Daniel Mminele as head of the Presidential Climate Finance Task Team to lead the mobilisation of funds for the just transition.
The president said that investments in green hydrogen and electric vehicles would equip South Africa to meet the global clean energy future.
“We will be able to expand our mining industry in strategic minerals that are crucial for clean energy, like platinum, vanadium, cobalt, copper, manganese and lithium.
“We also have a unique opportunity in green hydrogen, given our world-class solar and wind resources and local technology and expertise.
“All of these measures – from structural reforms to support for SMMEs, investments in infrastructure and the emergence of new sectors – will drive a turnaround in economic growth driven by the private sector growth over the coming years,” Ramaphosa said.
“Properly managed, the energy transition will benefit all. Renewable energy production will make electricity cheaper and more dependable, and will allow our industries to remain globally competitive,” he added.
The President’s comments received widespread applause, particularly on LinkedIn, where Invest In Africa Services GM Garth Arthur described them as being “great first steps towards South Africa’s hydrogen economy. Let’s hope we can all pull together and make it the best success that it can possibly be.”
Supporting remarks were also made by HySA Infrastructure Competence Centre, Professor Dmitri Bessarabov, Dr Bruno Pollet, president of the green hydrogen division at the International Association for Hydrogen Energy, and several academics.