The Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology (IWU) is spearheading two innovative hydrogen-based microgrid projects in Cape Town, South Africa, and Namibia.
The projects, known as HyTrA and HygO, aim to revolutionize power supply in these regions by leveraging renewable energy sources and locally produced hydrogen. With the involvement of various partners, including Alu-Cab, Texulting GmbH, University of Stellenbosch, and Umstro GmbH, these initiatives seek to create acceptance, promote value creation, and pave the way for future hydrogen applications in Africa.
The HyTrA project focuses on providing reliable power supply to the Alu-Cab company in Cape Town. By utilizing photovoltaic systems, excess energy is harnessed and converted into hydrogen through electrolysis. This hydrogen is then stored and used for reconversion when electricity from the public grid is unavailable. The collaboration between Fraunhofer IWU, local partners, and sponsoring organizations like NOW GmbH and ZUG aims to showcase the benefits of hydrogen technology, encourage local involvement, and foster sustainable value creation.
Building upon the success of HyTrA, the HygO project expands the scope by integrating oxygen production during electrolysis. The project will be initially stationed at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), with final deployment in the remote Erongo District. HygO’s decentralized electricity generation and water treatment capabilities offer tremendous potential for addressing the region’s energy and water challenges. The involvement of the regional governor and plans to provide reliable electricity to a local school demonstrate the practical benefits of this hydrogen microgrid solution.
These hydrogen microgrid projects present a significant opportunity for industry, science, and society to explore the potential of this emerging technology. By involving medium-sized companies and academic partners, valuable experience and usage data can be gathered to inform future developments. The initiatives also align with the export initiative of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMUV), showcasing Germany’s expertise and fostering international collaboration.