Categories: EnergyNews
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2023-12-11 10:06 AM

South Africa Unveils Landmark R105B Green Hydrogen Project

  • Milestone Green Hydrogen Project: A monumental R105 billion green hydrogen and ammonia project in South Africa's Eastern Cape marks a significant breakthrough in renewable energy and economic development.
  • Impacts on Economy and Employment: Anticipated to inject 14,400 MW into the grid and create 20,000 jobs, this venture promises to revolutionize the nation's energy sector while stimulating economic growth.
  • Challenges and Potential of Green Hydrogen: Despite its promise, challenges such as limited production capacity, transportation issues, and environmental concerns surrounding hydrogen's leakage into the atmosphere present hurdles in realizing the full potential of green hydrogen technology.
By Miriam Matoma


In a groundbreaking development for South Africa’s energy landscape, Hive Energy UK has successfully concluded a monumental R105 billion green hydrogen and ammonia project in the Eastern Cape. The initiative, situated at the Coega Special Economic Zone (SEZ) near Gqeberha, stands as a pinnacle of global investment and innovation in sustainable energy ventures.

The Business Times reports this project as the largest of its kind worldwide, poised to revolutionize the country’s energy grid and economic prospects. Anticipated to contribute an impressive 14,400 MW to the grid, this venture also foresees the creation of approximately 20,000 employment opportunities. Furthermore, it is slated to foster downstream industries, including the establishment of solar panel manufacturing facilities, slated for operational commencement by 2028.

One of the primary objectives of this initiative is to generate 900,000 tons of green ammonia earmarked for export to Japan, Korea, and Europe. This ammonia, pivotal for storing green hydrogen produced via electrolysis from renewable energy sources, epitomizes the project’s sustainability focus, hence the moniker “green.”

Investments in green hydrogen within South Africa have attracted substantial interest, particularly from Japanese stakeholders engaged in the Coega SEZ endeavor. Earlier this year, Netherlands-backed enterprises announced a formidable $1 billion green hydrogen fund, earmarked for investment in various South African projects, further cementing international collaboration in the renewable energy sector.

At the recent Green Hydrogen Summit held in Cape Town, President Cyril Rampahosa underscored the transformative potential of this burgeoning industry. He highlighted projections suggesting the creation of a staggering 370,000 jobs while concurrently reducing the nation’s emissions by an estimated 10% to 15%. Moreover, South Africa stands to capitalize significantly on its substantial reserves, possessing about 80% of the world’s platinum group metals (PGMs) and 40% of the global platinum and palladium supplies, crucial elements for hydrogen production.

The involvement of industry leaders like Anglo-American Platinum in introducing green hydrogen-powered electric vehicles, such as the BMW, into the South African market, exemplifies the far-reaching implications of this sustainable energy revolution.

Challenges and Considerations:

However, despite the promising outlook, experts like Bruce Young from the African Energy Leadership Centre at Wits Business School have highlighted several critical concerns regarding green hydrogen.

Foremost among these concerns is the limited production capacity of green hydrogen, which remains significantly smaller compared to its more carbon-intensive counterparts, grey and black hydrogen.

Moreover, for efficient long-distance transportation and cost-effectiveness, green hydrogen necessitates conversion into higher energy-density products, such as ammonia.

Furthermore, while touted for its eco-friendly attributes, the potential environmental impact of hydrogen remains under scrutiny. Being the smallest molecule globally, hydrogen is susceptible to leakage, posing an indirect threat as a greenhouse gas and exacerbating global warming if released into the atmosphere.

Additionally, the scalability of the green hydrogen industry presents a formidable challenge. Establishing mega-green production plants demands substantial capital investments, with the scaling process likely spanning decades before achieving substantial fruition.

Conclusion:

The completion of the R105 billion green hydrogen and ammonia project represents a watershed moment in South Africa’s quest for sustainable energy sources and economic growth. Despite inherent challenges and uncertainties surrounding green hydrogen technology, the project’s potential for job creation, emission reduction, and leveraging the nation’s natural resource endowments underscores its significance in propelling South Africa towards a greener and more prosperous future. With international collaborations and technological advancements, this initiative serves as a beacon of hope and progress in the global pursuit of renewable energy solutions.

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Miriam Matoma

Miriam is a freelance writer, she covers economics and government news for Rateweb. You can contact her on: Email: miriam@rateweb.co.za Twitter: @MatomaMiriam