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    The hydrogen economy is alive and well in SA

    South Africa is making significant strides in developing its hydrogen economy, with a strong focus on community engagement and economic upliftment. A pilot project in Masia Village, Limpopo, showcases the potential of integrating cutting-edge technologies like hydrogen electrolysers and solar PV systems to power agricultural activities and community centres.
    South Africa is committing major resources to establish the hydrogen economy.
    South Africa is committing major resources to establish the hydrogen economy.

    The project, initiated in 2021, is spearheaded by the South African National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi) in collaboration with the University of Limpopo and local stakeholders.

    Prof Sampson Mamphweli, Sanedi energy secretariat and research lead for the project tells Bizcommunity the community has embraced the project, recognising its potential to stimulate economic growth and create job opportunities.

    "The community is really rallying behind this particular project, and they're always telling us to do more within that particular community," he says.

    While the villagers may not fully grasp the technicalities of fuel cells and electrolysers, they understand the benefits of clean energy and its impact on their livelihoods.

    The project's success is attributed to extensive stakeholder engagement and training programs, empowering the community to take ownership of the technology and its applications.

    This community-based approach aligns with South Africa's Hydrogen Society Roadmap, which emphasises the importance of localised hydrogen production and usage to ensure equitable access to the benefits of this emerging industry.

    Major investment

    The Cyril Ramaphosa administration is betting over a fifth of its R1.5tn Just Energy Transition Investment Plan on this emerging green hydrogen market, with R319b committed to its development – the same amount of money it has earmarked to support the country’s 278 municipalities during the transition.

    The Masia Village project serves as a model for future initiatives, demonstrating the feasibility of integrating renewable energy and hydrogen technologies to drive economic development in rural areas.

    In addition to the Masia Village project, South Africa is investing a total budget of R4.5bn into developing the hydrogen economy – a full R1.2bn more than what is reserved for the localisation of other renewable energy value chains.

    The Limpopo Science and Technology Park, Anglo-American's hydrogen-powered truck, and Sasol's sustainable aviation fuels project are just a few examples of the country's commitment to becoming a global leader in the hydrogen economy.

    Sanedi driving innovation

    Sanedi is also leading a feasibility study for the Boegoebaai Green Hydrogen project in the Northern Cape, which has the potential to produce massive amounts of green ammonia for export.

    The project, estimated to create over 1,400 jobs, has already attracted international investment and is expected to contribute significantly to South Africa's economic growth.

    While challenges remain, such as the need for further policy development and infrastructure investment, South Africa's progress in the hydrogen sector is undeniable.

    The country's vast platinum reserves, abundant renewable energy resources, and commitment to community-driven development position it as a key player in the global transition to a clean energy future.

    About Lindsey Schutters

    Lindsey is the editor for ICT, Construction&Engineering and Energy&Mining at Bizcommunity
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