Electrical Power & Protection

Propelling green hydrogen toward large-scale African commercialisation

April 2022 Electrical Power & Protection

The African Hydrogen Partnership (AHP) recently unveiled its 14 ‘Pioneer Members’ from organisations based across South Africa, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Mali, Zimbabwe, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Israel, Italy and the UK, with the large-scale commercialisation of hydrogen technology in Africa as a key focus.

The partnership – which aims to lay the foundation for establishing hydrogen economies and societies in Africa – will also explore how the continent can export green or natural hydrogen, the development of domestic markets and how to attract foreign investment from energy-intensive industries as priorities.

Following its rapid expansion in 2021, the AHP is now working with representatives from firms including Anglo American, Bluenergy Revolution, Cheranna Energy, Gencell, HDF Energy, Hydroma, Hydrox Holdings, Hypowa, iH2 – Ivoire Hydrogene, Jacob Lawren, Mobility Africa Energy, Port of Rotterdam, RTS Africa Engineering (RTS) and Sable Chemicals. These are the group’s ‘Pioneer Members’.

RTS, which is based in Waltloo, Pretoria, first became involved with the hydrogen industry in the mid-1990s when it was appointed as the sub-Saharan African agent for Norsk Hydro Electrolysers, now known as Nel Hydrogen. At that time, hydrogen was largely seen as a specialised industrial gas and while such applications still exist, it is apparent that hydrogen now offers the opportunity to manage the world’s ever-increasing energy requirements without further damage to its fragile ecology.

“Unlike other fuels that release environmentally unfriendly chemicals into the atmosphere, green hydrogen, when combined with oxygen, produces only energy and water,” explains Ian Fraser, managing director of RTS. “Of course, for this to be effective and viable, we need to generate the hydrogen without creating those same noxious gasses that we want to avoid.”

He adds that there are already several projects underway aimed at eliminating fossil fuels from the energy market. For instance, RTS is participating in a pilot project aimed at converting large ore haulers at a local platinum mine from diesel to hydrogen power. The hydrogen will be generated by green technology using wind and solar energy to power two Nel Hydrogen electrolysers that will produce green hydrogen through the electrolysis of water. The long-term target is to convert the entire fleet of haul trucks to hydrogen and also to introduce green hydrogen mobility at other local mines. It is worth noting that just one of these trucks, when powered by diesel, consumes over 900 000 litres of fuel a year, which generates enormous volumes of carbon emissions.

“Africa has the potential to become a major energy powerhouse,” Fraser asserts. “The continent has vast open areas and abundant sun and wind energy. Africa can in fact produce enough green hydrogen to supply all the continent’s energy requirements, plus a comfortable excess for export.

“Developing hydrogen economies in Africa will reduce the economic burden of importing costly refined fossil fuels and generate revenue streams from exporting green hydrogen. Many African countries could move directly into the new age of hydrogen technologies.” What is more, Fraser considers it likely that clean, sustainable and renewable green hydrogen, or natural African hydrogen, will price diesel and petrol out of the market between 2025 and 2030.

“At RTS, we are very aware that carbon-free green hydrogen, as well as naturally occurring African hydrogen, are essential if we are to achieve global net-zero CO2 emissions,” he continues. “In the interest of forming a strong international alliance for utilising Africa’s hydrogen potential and creating green wealth, organisations from across the world are invited to join us at the AHP.”

The first African hydrogen economies will begin with construction of P2G (power to gas) renewable energy facilities for producing green hydrogen derivatives, the construction of hydrogen hubs along important trans-African highways and the export of green hydrogen. Green economies can also be developed in ports, where hydrogen stations will provide fuel for long-haul heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), buses and trains powered by hydrogen fuel cells. African governments can grant concessions for the right to produce green hydrogen and export it to energy-importing nations. The fees for concessions will increase the inflow of foreign currencies into African economies.

“The future of Africa is Green and we at RTS and within the AHP will be leading the continent to reap the benefits of this planet-saving energy resource,” Fraser concludes.

For more information contact RTS Africa Engineering, +27 87 265 9591, info@rtsafrica.co.za, www.rtsafrica.co.za


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