As the world shifts its attention towards environmentally cleaner sources of fuel and living, hydrogen has emerged as an ideal transitionary resource, offering significant opportunities to increase energy security and supply while reducing carbon emissions to countries rich in renewable resources such as South Africa to significantly benefit from an established hydrogen economy. This article will explore the possibilities of hydrogen as a source of clean energy in Africa’s future, how we could benefit, and how we can achieve it.
South Africa Could Be A Hydrogen Mine
According to numerous experts, energy projects are becoming common in Africa due to the lack of natural resources in some areas. With the rapid growth in renewable electricity and falling costs of wind and solar power, the opportunity to produce zero carbon hydrogen has caught the attention of global energy players. With the world increasingly turning towards countries that have optimal renewable energy resources to provide the clean energy of the future, South Africa is in an extraordinary position to revolutionise its own economy and supply green hydrogen to the world. Experts say that given its immense renewable energy potential, South Africa could become an exporter of cost-effective green hydrogen to the world. The infrastructure needed to export hydrogen is similar to existing natural gas networks and is already being piloted in Australia and Japan. South Africa could leverage its existing and new infrastructure to support this initiative.
By capitalising on its renewable energy wealth and investing in the production of green hydrogen, South Africa would open the door to developing whole new industries and become a major player in the production and export of hydrogen-based fuels, chemicals and products, creating countless jobs and earning the country much needed foreign currency.
Besides South Africa being able to export hydrogen across the world, this energy supply will be beneficial in creating opportunities in the following:
Increased energy supply and security
South Africa already reales on other countries for its electricity supply. With the hydrogen shift, this means we stand a better chance at creating our own energy supply that will be reliable and sustainable.
South Africa boasts the second largest economy in Africa, second only to Nigeria. However, the country continues to experience slow economic growth and socio-economic development, hampered by inadequate energy supply, as well as critical unemployment levels – estimated at 34.4% in Q2 of 2021. If we redirect investments towards hydrogen solutions, we stand to bring South Africa and its neighbouring countries to a healthier economy. This also helps disadvantaged communities with employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.
The establishment of South Africa’s hydrogen economy could fast-track Africa’s energy transition through the shift to renewables and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Who Is Making It All Happen?
Much like every local or global project of its magnitude, there can’t be one source helping in the transition to hydrogen energy. The government has introduced numerous projects in the hydrogen feasibility study report that will help South Africa and other countries to swiftly move into this phase. There are already three hydrogen hubs identified in South Africa (one in Johannesburg, one in Durban and one in Limpopo), and the hydrogen demand in these hubs could reach up to 185 kt by 2030, or 40% (low case) to 80% of demand (high case) of the draft national hydrogen roadmap. Public and private sectors are getting involved, too, with more of them investing in numerous projects to help this dream become a reality. With the DBSA, a development finance institution, lending a helping hand in numerous projects.
The transition to this new world will offer many South Africans and African countries the opportunity to not only gain sustainable and reliable energy sources but a steady economy too. It is not a secret that Africa is rich in a lot of culture, minerals and history; however, the challenges she faces make it difficult for the exploration of business, education and other sectors’ opportunities. Besides, taking care of African environments and people means retaining the beauty, history and marvel that is Africa for other countries to explore and offers us a seat at the table as the biggest suppliers of this new energy source.