South Africa Launches Hydrogen Society Roadmap

By February 21, 2022 4   min read  (699 words)

February 21, 2022 |

Fuel Cells Works, South Africa Launches Hydrogen Society Roadmap

The country’s Department of Science and Innovation has launched its official vision for a hydrogen-based economy: a detailed hydrogen roadmap for South Africa. The roadmap distills down to five high-level outcomes:

  • creating an export market for South African green hydrogen & ammonia
  • a greener power generation sector (including the use of alternative fuels)
  • decarbonised heavy transport (hydrogen-focused)
  • decarbonising South Africa’s “energy-intensive” industries (with a prominent role for ammonia)
  • local manufacturing of hydrogen supply chain components

Initial momentum for the roadmap will be provided by four “catalytic” projects, all of which feature ammonia.

Building capacity by 2040

southafricahydrogenroadmap figure3.6

Click to enlarge. Some key figures & milestones from the catalytic projects, from the Hydrogen Society Roadmap for South Africa 2021 (Figure 3.6).

The roadmap outlines a series of key milestones for the four initial projects to meet (see figure to the right). Starting with pilot-scale hydrogen production, heavy transport & stationary power generation (2021-24), by the end of this decade multiple GW of electrolysis capacity will be installed & operating, with hydrogen and ammonia to be used in turbines for utility-scale power generation. By 2040 a full rollout will see at least 15 GW of electrolysis capacity operating, and full sector coupling across transport, power and key industrial processes (steel, chemicals etc.).

Ammonia’s primary role will be in the decarbonisation of existing industrial processes in South Africa. The national government will lead through a series of concrete actions: policies, strategies, creation of statutory authorities, market incentives, subsidies and targets to encourage domestic demand for green feedstocks. But, at this stage, they won’t go down the same route as India and mandate the use of certain levels of green feedstocks in key energy-intensive industries.

Four “catalytic” projects – all with an ammonia aspect

We’ve already explored two of the four kick-off projects here at Ammonia Energy:

  • the Boegoebaai green hydrogen project in the Northern Cape, led by national energy & chemical company Sasol. The port-adjacent, 60,000 hectare site will host a 30 GW solar + wind park, 5 GW of electrolysers and dedicated green ammonia production facility. Feasibility work will continue until mid-2023.
  • the “Hydrogen Valley”, linking Anglo American’s existing platinum mine in Mokopane to Johannesburg via key industrial corridors, before extending south to the port city of Durban. The roadmap indicates that maritime ammonia bunkering in Durban and nearby Richards Bay Port is being explored as a long-term option.
Fuel Cells Works, South Africa Launches Hydrogen Society Roadmap

Click to enlarge. Conversion of flue gas pollutants in the CoalCO2-X project, with fertiliser production from Boegoebaai green ammonia. From the Hydrogen Society Roadmap for South Africa 2021 (Figure 5.3).

With the two remaining projects:

  • CoalCO2-X, where pollutants will be stripped from flue gas in coal-fired power stations and converted into value-added products. Interestingly, this project is designed to synergise directly with Boegoebaai. Green ammonia from the Northern Cape will be shipped around the coast to Richards Bay Port, and then inland to the Mpumalanga region (South Africa’s coal heartland just east of Johannesburg) via an existing railway line. Once there, the green ammonia will be mixed with carbon emissions stripped from flue gas in Mpumalanga’s coal-fired power stations, and converted into fertiliser salts. The roadmap indicates that 25% of Boegoebaai’s total green hydrogen output will be set aside for this purpose.
  • and the Sustainable Aviation Fuels project, which is notable due to both its participants (Sasol, South Africa’s biggest ammonia supplier and Linde, a regular at Ammonia Energy), and because the SAF consortium intends for their fuel product to meet all requirements of the H2Global scheme.

A just transition

The roadmap is adamant that a future hydrogen transition must be just, equitable and sensitive to the potential impacts of jobs in traditionally fossil-focused communities. Breaking down barriers to participation and increased investment in human capital are key goals of the roadmap, and the four “catalytic” projects are evidence that workers currently in fossil-based industries are front-of-mind as the transition develops. In November last year South Africa was granted support from the EU, the US and the UK to pursue a “Just Energy Transition”.

The launch webinar – including discussions & presentations from various government and organisational leaders – can be watched here.

Source: Ammonia Energy Association

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