South Africans urged to seek funds to establish the country’s hydrogen economy

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In an advertising issued by South Africa’s Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), a division of the Department of Science and Innovation, a request for financing applications for the development of the hydrogen economy is made (DSI).

Call for financing applications for the development of novel energy technologies, such as fuel cells for mobile and stationary applications, green hydrogen production, and infrastructure for the storage, distribution, and dispensing of hydrogen.

South African startups, small, medium, and microenterprises, private people, science councils, higher education institutions, and other authorized entities are welcome to submit funding requests.

The DSI/TIA advertisement in the most recent issue of Engineering News & Mining Weekly states that applicants must meet Hydrogen Society Roadmap (HSRM) criteria, demonstrate a viable, feasible, and sustainable business case, demonstrate positive socioeconomic impact, and have a proof of concept, i.e. a proven, tested, and validated idea that needs support for further development or scale-up.

Applicants for funding must be South African nationals, registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, and included in the central supplier database of the National Treasury.

Intellectual property (IP) owned by a foreign entity must be licensed or assigned to the applicant before funding can be awarded.

Co-funding from the applicant or other funders is desired, with the majority of technology development activities taking place in South Africa.

It is mandatory for applicants to attend briefing sessions on Microsoft Teams in order to understand the requirements of the call, with links to Microsoft Teams being provided once applications are accepted.

On Thursday, September 8, briefing sessions will be held in Gauteng, North West, Limpopo, Northern Cape, and Mpumalanga, and on Friday, September 9, from 10:00 to 13:00 in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Eastern Cape, and Western Cape.

Individuals interested in attending the mandatory briefing sessions must send a confirmation email to customerservice@tia.org.za by Friday, September 2 at the latest.

On or before Friday, September 23, 2018, applications must be filed online at https://gms.tia.org.za/funding.

The advertisement was placed at a time of global activity on the green hydrogen front, with South Africa’s potential being widely recognized due to its superior sun, prime wind, available land, local hydrogen haul truck already deployed, decades of experience in grey hydrogen, advanced plans for the development of a hydrogen corridor, energy storge pilot projects already underway, local skills, required metals and minerals, and unfolding regional projects.

Proton-exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells and PEM electrolysers are vastly improved by South Africa’s essential supply of platinum group metals.

Green hydrogen, produced by PEM electrolyzers and fueled by renewable energy, is recognised as the sole fuel source with a zero-net-energy footprint. In contrast to other fuels, it does not remove oxygen from the atmosphere or contribute more water vapour to the atmosphere than it consumes during production, hence preserving the earth’s present oxygen and water balance. ITM Power also notes that it has no detrimental influence on air quality.

Dr. Rebecca Maserumule, DSI’s chief director for hydrogen and energy, stated in a January address covered by Mining Weekly that the vision of South Africa’s HSRM is to create an inclusive, sustainable, and competitive hydrogen economy to support net-zero carbon economic growth and societal well-being.

The talk to the North West Provincial Mining and Energy Investment Conference detailed the roles being played by a number of government ministries and the direct interaction with nearly 50 organizations about the DSI-led HSRM.

Maserumule emphasized how South Africa may benefit from the hydrogen economy by producing jobs and influencing the youth.

“The national hydrogen plan was successful in developing the requisite capabilities for a hydrogen economy in South Africa,” she confirmed.

ITM Power notes that renewables cannot provide power on demand, but that PEM electrolyser technology can convert green electricity to green hydrogen for storage and usage on demand. As the price of renewable electricity continues to decline, more green hydrogen will be generated.

Numerous automakers are taking preparations to begin commercial production and sales of fuel cell vehicles as early as 2025, and green hydrogen is recognized as the only emission-reduction alternative for difficult-to-control industries such as the steel and cement industries.

Green hydrogen is recognized globally as the comprehensive energy transition option for all types of transportation, stationary power generation, and electrification of industry, commerce, and housing.

Nedim Husomanovic

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