After over a decade of research and development around hydrogen fuel technology, president Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africa is now ready to manufacture and commercialise hydrogen fuels technology.
The president said this when he responded to a debate on the State of the Nation Address in Parliament on Thursday.
“For more than a decade, government has been working with various partners, including the private sector and academia, to develop hydrogen fuel cell and lithium battery storage technologies.
“This work serves two important developmental objectives: it offers the possibility of a new, renewable source of energy, while establishing new uses and new markets for the platinum group metals that are abundant in our country.
“Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, which use platinum, offer an alternative source of clean electricity, while hydrogen allows for energy to be stored and delivered in a usable form,” he said.
The president said through its Hydrogen South Africa Strategy, government and its partners have successfully deployed hydrogen fuel cells to provide electricity in schools and to field hospitals established as part of the country’s Covid-19 response.
“Now, after a decade of investment, we are ready to move from research and development to manufacturing and commercialisation.
“We are establishing a Platinum Valley as an industrial cluster bringing various hydrogen applications in the country together to form an integrated hydrogen ecosystem.
“This initiative will identify concrete project opportunities for kick-starting hydrogen cell manufacturing in promising hubs,” he said.
In 2019, Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, said progress was made in preparing the country for a hydrogen economy.
At the time, Nzimande said that to the work of the Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) programme had resulted in the establishment of spin-out companies whose products are attracting market interest.
Addressing a hybrid joint sitting of Parliament on Thursday, the president said the newly-established Platinum Valley will facilitate the commercialisation of home-grown intellectual property.
“It presents an opportunity to build a local skills base and lead the country into a new era of energy generation and demand for its platinum group metals.
“Through this initiative, South African skills, technology and expertise is being used to extract greater economic value – in the form of new jobs, industrial development and cleaner energy – from a mineral that the country has in substantial quantities.
“We will develop measures that should be taken to ensure that innovators are supported in local innovation and research.
“This is just one example of the boundless potential that exists in our country to build a new economy of the future,” said the president.