Nine green hydrogen projects to be prioritized

According to Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille, nine green hydrogen projects will obtain priority status this week, which means they will move through more quickly.

The minister was speaking at the first-ever green hydrogen summit in South Africa, which got underway on Tuesday. South Africa may promote itself during the summit as a hub for large-scale, inexpensive green hydrogen generation.

Infrastructure South Africa and De Lille’s department have taken action to cut red tape and speed up procedures to get infrastructure projects off the ground in South Africa as a necessity for economic growth.

One of the infrastructure sectors under development is green hydrogen. As contrast to fossil fuel-based electricity, which is carbon-intensive and incompatible with climate promises to reduce global warming, green hydrogen entails using renewable energy for its generation.

For this reason, green hydrogen is viewed as an alternative, cleaner fuel for emissions-intensive industrial activities like steelmaking or the transportation industry, such as aviation. As its trade partners, including the EU, impose penalties on items with a high carbon content, green hydrogen would enable the nation uphold its climate pledges and maintain its competitiveness on the world stage.

However, South Africa wants to establish itself as a global leader in green hydrogen and the preferred investment location for these projects in order to avoid falling behind. President Cyril Ramaphosa noted during his speech at the conference that green hydrogen had enormous potential to assist economic growth, investment, and job creation. Since 2007, South Africa has been engaged in green hydrogen research and development.

According to Ramaphosa, the sector can produce a variety of goods, including fertiliser, green ammonia, green steel, sustainable aviation fuels, and fuel cells.

One of the three main areas of concentration of South Africa’s Just Energy Transition Investment Plan is green hydrogen. Ramaphosa stated that the government intended to encourage more investment in the industry since it would result in increased employment.

Nine top priorities

Over R300 billion worth of green hydrogen projects are now in development, but many of them still need additional work to reach financial close, according to De Lille.

In accordance with the 2014 Infrastructure Development Act, nine projects have been selected for gazetting as Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs). These initiatives are a part of the Green Hydrogen National Programme, which consists of 19 different initiatives.

Since the nine projects will be categorized as SIPs, they will follow a quicker process to get the necessary authorizations for implementation. According to De Lille, the projects have undergone “extensive quality assurance” procedures and are in line with the nation’s broader aims and policies for economic growth.

One of the nine is the R9.7 billion Prieska Power Reserve in the Northern Cape. According to De Lille, this project will use renewable sun and wind energy to produce green hydrogen and green ammonia in 2026. This will be done in conjunction with the nearby water and air resources in the Northern Cape, which are located outside of Prieska.

The project is situated in the Siyathemba Local Municipality of the Northern Cape and was founded by the black-owned, women-led Makhlako a Phala in collaboration with the Central Energy Corporation and the Industrial Development Corporation.

More than 10 500 jobs are anticipated to be created during the first phase’s building and operating phases.

Both temporary jobs during the construction phase and permanent jobs during the operational phase will be created by the Prieska Power Reserve Project, according to De Lille.

In the Northern Cape’s Boegoebaai, one of the projects has its headquarters. Sasol, a petrochemical firm, and the Northern Cape government are working together on it. The companies signed a Memorandum of Agreement last year to conduct a feasibility assessment on the possibilities for green hydrogen in the area. The green hydrogen and ammonia export center could be located at Boegoebaai.

According to Priscilla Mabelane, executive vice president of Sasol’s energy business, the project has the capacity to create 400 000 tonnes of hydrogen annually, which will require roughly 9 GW of renewable energy. Additionally, it can generate up to 6 000 direct jobs.

The Green Hydrogen National Program also consists of two other Sasol projects.

They include the Sasolberg Green Hydrogen project, which will need 60 MW of renewable energy and is situated in the Free State. Up to five tons of green hydrogen might be created every day, according to an earlier study from Engineering News.

The other is HyShiFT, a group working in Secunda to create environmentally friendly aviation fuels. Sasol is a member of this group. Chemicals business Linde and renewable energy provider Enertrag, both based in Germany, are the other consortium members.

A $5 billion (R85 billion) green ammonia factory by UK company HIVE Energy, which will be built in the Coega Special Economic Zone in the Eastern Cape, is another project that will be given priority. Each year, it would generate 780,000 tonnes of green ammonia.

Additionally, the Hydrogen Valley Programme, which connects three hydrogen centres in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, and Limpopo, will move more quickly. Anglo American Platinum, fuel cell manufacturer Bambili Energy, the Department of Science and Innovation, and the South African National Energy Development Institute collaborated to conduct a feasibility assessment on the valley, which was published in October 2021. It demonstrated how many industrial processes, mining operations, and even the valley’s transportation sectors could be powered by green hydrogen.

According to the country’s Hydrogen Society Roadmap, the valley would generate between 14 000 and 30 000 employment annually and contribute between $3.9 billion (R66 billion) and $8.8 billion (R150 billion) to the country’s GDP by 2050. According to De Lille, there are nine projects in the three provinces that make up the Hydrogen Valley.

The Atlanthia Green Hydrogen Project in the Western Cape, the Ubuntu Green Energy Hydrogen Project in the Northern Cape, and Upilanga Solar and Green Hydrogen Park are the three remaining high-priority projects.

According to De Lille, all nine projects have been successfully registered with Infrastructure South Africa.

According to De Lille, Infrastructure South Africa still needs to receive the final project information from the other 10 green hydrogen projects that are a part of the national program. These include the green hydrogen project at Saldanha Bay and the green steel production at the closed ArcelorMittal factory in the same area.