South Africa: IDC & DBSA Invest in Fuel Cells through Mitochondria, an Energy Service Provider

By September 4, 2020 5   min read  (841 words)

September 4, 2020 |

South Africa Main S

​The funding is to complete the bankable feasibility study of a stationary fuel cell energy solution. The project aims to strengthen the energy sector in South Africa by providing a locally-produced fuel cell technology.

The primary objectives of this project are:
• Design of a 250kW fuel cell system;
• Construct a facility to commercially manufacture the fuel cell units; and
• Commercial manufacturing and sale of the fuel cell units.
The secondary objectives of this project include:
• stimulating the demand for fuel cell energy generation systems to encourage its use as a source of cleaner energy in industries; and
• promoting the use of combined heat and power (CHP) from fuel cells.
Christo Fourie, IDC’s Head of Energy, noted: “The IDC is excited to co-develop this project that will localise the manufacture of fuel cell units ensuring that the technology and intellectual property is South African-based. The IDC’s funding will go towards the completion of the bankable feasibility study phase of Project Phoenix.  Project Phoenix will support IDC’s developmental objectives by creating jobs; increasing demand of locally produced minerals like chromium, iron and zirconium; replacement of imported power generation equipment (e.g. Gas engines); localisation of the manufacture of some of the fuel cell components and supporting a Black Industrialist venture. This project will eventually contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases and is aligned to the IDC clean energy strategy.
Mohale Rakgate, DBSA’s Group Executive for the Project Preparation Division, commented: “The investment consists of a structured project preparation facility that will allow Mitochondria to enhance the country and continent’s energy supply security. This facility will anchor DBSA as a long-term partner to support Mitochondria with their development efforts in scaling up this highly impactful source of cleaner energy. The fuel cell project has many technical and localisation advantages ideally suited to deal with the energy challenges facing South Africa.  This investment emphasises the bank’s strategy towards diversification of the energy mix locally and in Africa”.
Mashudu Ramano, Mitochondria’s CEO, stated: “We are thrilled to have IDC & DBSA join us in developing a solution that can harness local demand to drive new industry formation at this critical time in our country and lay the foundation for the country to be a serious player in the emerging hydrogen economy. Mito’s aim is to realise South African economic and manufacturing dividend by achieving global competitiveness in fuel technology, not excluding the potential for significant foreign earnings. This partnership with our country’s leading development finance institutions, supports the long-term vision of Mitochondria to stimulate the demand for fuel cell energy generation systems in Africa”.
The advantages of deploying fuel cells include:
• Climate Change Mitigation
o Emissions
 Lower CO2 (60% less)
 No nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides and particulate matter
 Minimal noise pollution
o Water use
 Zero water consumption
 Water produced as a by-product
• Operational Efficiencies – Grid operation
o Different operating modes
o Different fuel options / fuel flexibility
• Health and Safety
o Safe Technology to operate / reduces the risk of chemical exposure
• Operational Cost reduction
o High electrical efficiency (up to 60%) and Combined Heat and Power over 90%
o Scalable / Modular approach leads to:
 Highest capacity factor
 High levels of availability / consistent level of performance (requires continuous gas availability)
 Maintenance without shutting down other modules
o Low maintenance cost (novel electrochemical process)
• Ability to withstand adverse and harsh environmental conditions
o Fuel cell power station during Hurricane Katrina in the USA
• Energy Storage
o can be used as an energy storage
• Land utilisation
o small footprint
• Economic Advantages
o stimulate local manufacturing for balance of plant parts
o new Industry formation
o mitigate climate change impacts
o reskilling of the workforce
About DBSA
The DBSA is a South African state-owned enterprise and a leading development finance institution working across the African continent. Established in 1983, its primary purpose is to promote economic and social development as well as regional integration through infrastructure investment and development. Visit
About IDC
The Industrial Development Corporation, established in 1940 and is owned by the South African government is a national development finance institution whose primary objectives are to contribute to the generation of balanced, sustainable economic growth in Africa, and to the economic empowerment of the South African population, thereby promoting the economic prosperity of all citizens. The IDC achieves this by promoting entrepreneurship through the building of competitive industries and enterprises based on sound business principles. Visit –
About Mitochondria Energy System
Mitochondria exists to ensure that sustainable energy services – which are fundamental to life, to social and economic institutions, and to socio-economic development are available to all. The vision that fuels our business is to be a provider of affordable and reliable sustainable energy services to all, all the time, anywhere, where and when they are needed. Visit

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