South Africa’s Hydrogen Hub: A Corridor of Opportunity

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A feasibility study is underway in South Africa to explore how to create hydrogen hubs through expedited innovation and public private collaboration. ENGIE Impact is conducting the study, which is being led by Nicolas Lefevre-Marton, managing director of Sustainability Solutions, and project director Vincenzo Giordano.

ENGIE Impact is the sustainability advisory arm of ENGIE and according to Nicolas Lefevre-Marton, “greases the wheels of implementation, as it were, to drive decarbonization”.

In terms of decarbonization, South Africa certainly needs to move from ambition to action. The country’s power sector has been dominated by coal and plagued by blackouts since 2005 due to supply shortages. Policy uncertainty and antiquated business models have also hindered progress and thwarted investment.

However, the tides are changing. In 2021, the government announced the private sector could build their own power plants of up to 100MW, removing the current bottleneck at the National Energy Regulator of South Africa and leading to an acceleration of investment in power.

Furthermore, in March 2021, an agreement was signed between South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation, South African National Energy Development Institute, platinum producer Anglo American, ENGIE Impact and clean energy solutions provider Bambili Energy to conduct a feasibility study into several hydrogen hubs in an economic and transport corridor.

This collaboration follows the launch of the South African Hydrogen Society Roadmap in 2020, aimed at integrating hydrogen into the economy by capitalizing on the country’s platinum resources and renewable energy potential to revitalize and decarbonize key industrial sectors.