PtX Hub in South Africa

Promising starting conditions for becoming a global leader in Power-to-X

Huge potential for renewable energies, vast land areas and global leader in Fischer-Tropsch-Technology: South Africa could play a leading role in Power-to-X. Today South Africa is the biggest emitter of CO2 on the continent and relies on its coal mining industry. But with its abundance of natural resources like platinum and iridium, the high interest across political decision-makers, private businesses and academia, South Africa can make it a likely a place for global Power-to-X production to succeed. In addition, the country can further build on its expertise in Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, a reactor for the synthesis process needed for Power-to-Liquid production that was first commercialised in South Africa. Switching from coal as energy carrier and carbon source to renewable energies and sustainable carbon sources South Africa could tap the potential for reducing CO2 emissions.

A strong shift towards low-carbon or carbon-neutral fuels with Power-to-X is an important and necessary step in reaching South Africa’s climate commitments by 2030 and can help build up green value chains. 

The pit at the Premier Mine, Cullinan, Gauteng, South Africa. Photo by Paul Parsons

Powered by favorable energy market developments

Solar and wind resources are abundant across most parts of South Africa. This, combined with a large land area, mean the cost of renewable energy technology is decreasing substantially every year. At the same time, conventional fossil fuels resources are becoming more expensive to extract and utilise for energy production. Newly built solar PV and wind generators can each produce electricity at a cost well below that of newly-built coal generators.

In leveraging these favourable conditions, the PtX Hub aims to drive the technology uptake and market development for Power-to-X in South Africa. The project plans to work in four key areas: 

 

To reach these goals, the PtX Hub in South Africa intends to work on topics such as:

  • Analysing the demand for Power-to-X products: aviation fuel, ammonia, and methanol
  • Screening available Power-to-X technologies
  • Identifying business opportunities and strategies for market development
  • Analysing environmental safeguards, water shortage, land use, social issues, and safety
  • Identifying the employment impact and pathways for a just transition in the mining sector

In addition, a formal dialogue between government, industry and civil society is planned to inform and facilitate the development of a common strategic framework for Power-to-X products. As Coal-to-Liquid and Gas-to-Liquid play a pivotal role in the transition, the PtX Hub in South Africa intends to initiate a strategic cooperation with local companies on green Power-to-X production and export to map out sustainability roadmaps and GHG mitigation pathways.

If you are interested to find out more about the work of the PtX Hub in South Africa, contact our project lead: Alexander Mahler.

Featured image by Sactec. 

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