South Africa bets on green energy with Boegoebaai  hydrogen power project

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President Cyril Ramaphosa believes South Africa is well-positioned to become a major provider of green hydrogen and has expressed his excitement for the proposed Boegoebaai  hydrogen power project in the Northern Cape’s special economic zone. He went on to say that this was a significant step toward realising the country’s potential as a worldwide leader in green hydrogen and associated goods such as power fuels.

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Ramaphosa emphasised green energy as one of the new frontiers of infrastructure development in his presentation to the second Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium, which took place as a hybrid event in Sandton on Thursday.

He argues that green energy has the capacity to accelerate industrialisation and usher in a new industrial reality.

The President emphasised South Africa’s ability to use relatively low-cost renewable electricity to produce green hydrogen and derivatives, becoming increasingly important in decarbonising so-called “hard-to-abate” sectors and products such as marine and long-distance land transportation fuels, steel, etc chemicals, fertilisers, and sustainable aviation fuels.

Green hydrogen is created in an electrolyser by utilising renewable energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

He also expressed concern over Namibia’s intentions to establish a green-hydrogen centre at Boegoebaai on the other side of the border, claiming that the endeavour might draw the two countries closer together.

“It was wonderful, two days ago, when I sat down with President Hage Geingob, of Namibia, and we started talking about this type of project and how this project, in Boegoebaai, is going to bring the two countries together – to get both countries to approach this type of project on a joint basis so that we work together with all developing a project that is going to have enormous industrial benefits for both South Africa and Namibia.”

The Southern Corridor Development Initiative in Namibia, which focuses on hydrogen, is already ahead of the Boegoebaai hydrogen power project, with an expression of interest procedure completed and work underway to finalise the commencement of competitive bidding.

Prior to Ramaphosa’s speech, energy and chemicals company Sasol announced that it had reached an agreement with the Northern Cape Development Agency to conduct a feasibility study to assess the site’s potential as a green hydrogen and ammonia export hub.

The research will go for 24 months, with the results determining the next step in the process.

Furthermore, under South Africa’s National Infrastructure Plan 2050, the Boegoebaai hydrogen project was classified as a Strategic Integrated Project.

Sasol stated in a statement that it is researching a variety of green hydrogen, ammonia, and power-to-X alternatives as part of its new strategy to play a leading role in South Africa’s growing green hydrogen economy.

In his speech, Ramaphosa mentioned the Hydrogen Valley project, which is being driven by Anglo American Platinum, Bambili Energy, and Engie Energy Services.

The projected hydrogen valley will stretch from Mokopane, Limpopo, where platinum group metals are produced, to Johannesburg and Durban via the industrial and commercial corridor.

A feasibility research report identifies nine hydrogen-related projects in the transportation, industrial, and construction sectors that might serve as a springboard for the establishment of a South African hydrogen valley.