South Africa’s green hydrogen plans look a bit brighter

  • Germany has joined the United Kingdom in South Africa’s efforts into establishing green hydrogen-producing power plants.
  • Last year, the UK and other developed nations pledged billions towards South Africa’s Just Energy Transition.
  • Germany and South Africa have created the “South African German Hydrogen Task Force” to link local developers with German investors.

Developing nations like South Africa are working with the global north on methods to reduce carbon emissions, even though they represent the least polluting countries in the world.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is keenly aware of this, telling the parliament of the United Kingdom in November 2022 that European nations have a responsibility to the developing world.

Global warming influenced by European nations, and others, have harsh effects seen mostly in developing nations in the global south. These include increases in rampant flooding and heatwaves causing massive amounts of human suffering.

“Those countries that carry the least responsibility for global warming are the most vulnerable to its effect. They do not have the resources needed to adapt to drought, floods and rising sea levels and as they seek to grow, as they seek to industrialise and diversify their economies their energy needs will increase and the space they have to reduce emissions will keep on narrowing,” Ramaphosa said at the time.

The president called on the developing world to ensure “substantial funding” for the Just Energy Transition deal to take place. Nations such as the UK, United States, France, and Germany signed Just Energy Transition Agreement with South Africa in 2022.

UK companies specifically pledged billions of pounds towards renewable energy generation infrastructure in SA, with a focus on “green hydrogen.”

This technology is a clean and carbon-minimal method of generating electricity. It is also far cheaper than generating electricity with fossil fuels like coal.

On Tuesday, Germany became the next European nation to pledge towards South Africa’s green hydrogen plans.

According to SA News, Minister of Electricity Electricity Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa and German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck signed a joint declaration of intent to create something called the “South African German Hydrogen Task Force.”

The objective of this task force is to connect South African green hydrogen developers with German firms looking to invest in the technology, which has a global potential to generate around $300 billion in exports.

This would benefit the South African energy landscape with more generation, as well as new jobs, and would benefit German firms with profits.

It is important to note however, that the joint declaration is of yet not legally binding, and does not have any financial implications for South Africa.

“…it’s sole purpose is to create a South African-German Hydrogen Task Force within the framework of the South African – German Energy Partnership,” explains Kgosientsho in a press release.

“The potential of green hydrogen to decarbonize ‘hard-to-abate’ sectors, which are sectors that cannot be fully decarbonized through renewable energy and direct electrification or through renewable energy and battery storage, has resulted in recent, significant interest,” he added.

The South African government is looking at building what it calls “Hydrogen Valley” – a series of green hydrogen facilities running from Limpopo, through Johannesburg to Durban. Last year, government said it had four such plants in the pipeline.

[Image – Photo by Appolinary Kalashnikova on Unsplash]


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