South Africa emerges as a potential powerhouse in green hydrogen production, poised to become a key supplier for Germany and Europe.
The Fraunhofer joint research project HySecunda, a collaboration involving nine Fraunhofer institutes and the Fraunhofer Academy, has been unveiled to tackle the challenges surrounding the production, storage, and certification of green hydrogen.
Goals: Positioning South Africa as a Green Hydrogen Hub
South Africa, endowed with abundant sun and wind resources, holds the promise of transforming into a reliable green hydrogen producer. The overarching goal of the HySecunda project is to unlock optimized solutions for green hydrogen production, ensuring South Africa’s potential role as a crucial contributor to Germany and Europe’s hydrogen supply chain. To achieve this, the project aims to address infrastructural gaps, lower production costs, and promote the competitiveness of green hydrogen technology.
The Fraunhofer institutes involved in the HySecunda project are focusing on four key technological areas:
- Innovative Sensors: Development of sensors to enhance the detection of leaks in tanks and pipelines, identify corrosion, and monitor aging processes, ensuring the safety and efficiency of hydrogen storage and transportation.
- Barrier Layers: Creation of innovative oxygen/hydrogen barrier layers to prevent the infiltration of these gases into other components, thereby increasing the service life and safety of electrolysis cells.
- Cost-Effective Coatings: Exploration of more economical coatings for bipolar plates, critical components in electrolysis cells, to withstand extreme operating conditions and provide long-term stability.
- Porous Transport Layers: Optimization of porous transport layers to enhance the efficiency of gas, liquid, and ion transport in electrolysis cells, ultimately boosting the overall reaction efficiency.
The successful realization of the HySecunda project holds the potential to bolster energy security in Germany and Europe by establishing South Africa as a green hydrogen hub. The project’s three-year timeline underscores a commitment to fostering long-term cooperation with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, ensuring that local value is created. The focus on capacity building, including education and training tailored to the region’s needs, aims to empower the workforce and facilitate sustainable growth.