The Department of Science and Innovations (DSI) and partners have given the project the thumbs up in their Hydrogen Valley Feasibility Study Report.
The feasibility study, which was conducted in collaboration with Anglo American Platinum, clean energy solutions provider Bambili Energy, and energy and services business ENGIE, estimates that a hydrogen valley may generate up to 32,000 employment per year by 2030.
The estimated gross domestic product (GDP) impact, direct and indirect, of H2 projects in the country is between $3,9 billion and $8,8 billion, if the hydrogen valley’s whole vision is realized. By 2050, this initiative might provide an additional $900 million to $2,000 million in tax revenue for South Africa.
According to the DSI, the hydrogen valley would act as an industrial hub, bringing together the country’s different hydrogen applications to build an integrated hydrogen ecosystem.
Additionally, the program is expected to play a critical role in advancing South Africa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.
Dr Phil Mjwara, Director-General of the DSI, stated in his keynote presentation that the construction of the H2 zone was a critical national project.
“The implementation of phase 3 of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan is driven by the core elements of reconstruction and transformation, and this entails building a sustainable, resilient and inclusive economy.”
Mjwara believes that this establishment possesses tremendous potential for growth and revitalization of the industrial sector. Additionally, this action positions South Africa as a global exporter of cost-effective green hydrogen.
“And one of the things that I’m particularly excited about is that it is also important to see this hydrogen valley as a place that will open up training for young people,” said Mjwara.
In other nations, these valleys are utilized to promote emerging clean technology and to aid in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, hydrogen and fuel cell technologies provide an alternate source of clean energy, while hydrogen enables the storage and delivery of energy in usable form.
“Using hydrogen as an energy carrier could potentially reduce South Africa’s dependence on fossil fuels that cause global warming while reducing the country’s reliance on imported oil.”
Mjwara stated that implementing this complex effort will be impossible unless the government maintains its current alliances.
Natascha Viljoen, CEO of Anglo American’s PGMs business: “The opportunity to create new engines of economic activity through hydrogen has been validated through this feasibility study with our partners”.
As a renowned producer of platinum group metals (PGMs), Viljoen stated that the company has been trying to develop, scale up, and deploy H2-fueled solutions successfully. “This includes investing in innovative businesses and enabling technologies, as well as establishing broad industry collaborations to fully realize the revolutionary potential of green hydrogen for South Africa’s economy,” she added.
The country’s proposed hydrogen valley will begin near Mokopane in Limpopo, where platinum group metals (PGMs) are mined, and will extend via Johannesburg’s industrial and commercial corridor to Durban.
In South Africa’s Hydrogen Valley, three catalytic green hydrogen hubs have been located. These hubs were chosen based on their potential for a large concentration of future hydrogen demand, their ability to generate hydrogen (availability to solar/wind energy, water infrastructure), and their contributions to a just transition.
These hubs – located in Johannesburg, Durban/Richards Bay, and Mogalakwena/Limpopo – will host trial projects and contribute to the Hydrogen Valley’s H2 economy’s launch.
Zanele Mavuso Mbatha, CEO of Bambili Energy, believes the project will increase public knowledge of renewable energy solutions and will greatly contribute to national and provincial objectives for new investment, job development, renewable energy sources, and new export markets.
“This initiative underpins a growth market for the South African economy while supporting Bambili Energy’s mission, which also helps to reduce global carbon emission levels,” Mbatha said.