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South Africa thrusts towards a green hydrogen-powered future

South Africa stands at the forefront of a dynamic energy revolution, and the future of green hydrogen in the country holds immense promise.

With abundant renewable resources, including solar and wind power, SA is poised to unlock the potential of renewable hydrogen production through electrolysis, marking a pivotal step towards a sustainable and clean energy future.

The SA government has recognized the importance of green hydrogen as a key aspect of the energy transition and has included it in its energy plans.

Speaking at the African Energy Chamber’s (AEC) Hydrogen Summit in 2023, Kgosientsho Ramakgopa, Minister in the Presidency for Electricity, highlighted the importance of green hydrogen in SA’s energy strategy.

“By 2040, Africa could produce 50 times more energy from renewables than the world’s estimated demand,” he said.

“We are looking at $1 per kg by 2050, equivalent to indigenous low-cost energy, making South Africa one of the most competitive industrial economies. The intention of this kind of strategy is to ensure that we can develop the kind of standard required for green hydrogen in the future,” said Ramakgopa.

During the 2023 South African Green Hydrogen Summit, President Cyril Ramaphosa emphasized the significant role of the green hydrogen economy in South Africa’s development and equitable energy transition.

He said the hydrogen economy has a prominent role to play in our country’s just energy transition, providing employment and support to vulnerable workers, communities, and small businesses.

“It has been estimated that the hydrogen economy has the potential to add 3.6% to our GDP by 2050 and approximately 370 000 jobs. We must act with purpose to harness the potential of the green hydrogen economy,” said Ramaphosa.

The president said that for the world to limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius, green hydrogen will need to constitute 10% to 20% of the global energy mix.

SA aims to establish itself as a global leader in this rapidly expanding and dynamic industry.

The country’s Investment Strategy, approved by the Cabinet in 2023, identifies green hydrogen as a significant strategic sector that is expected to attract both foreign and domestic direct investment.

Ramophosa shared that the country has committed to ambitious emission reduction targets. Estimates indicate that renewable hydrogen has the potential to remove 10 to 15 percent of domestic emissions and contribute to the nation’s long-term energy security.

The development of hydrogen production facilities and distribution networks will also be crucial to the successful implementation of renewable hydrogen technology. Research and development investments, as well as the central government collaboration hypothesis between industry culture and academia, will be significant to drive innovation in green hydrogen technologies’ energy sources.

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