The second annual South African Green Hydrogen Summit, held on October 16 and 17 in Cape Town, celebrated progress made since its launch last year but also provided a pivotal platform for discussions among high-level policymakers, business leaders, investors, and civil society stakeholders. The Summit shed light on the vital role that green hydrogen can play in South Africa’s evolving energy landscape to address the electricity crisis and enable sustainable economic development.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister in the Presidency for Electricity Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa inaugurated the summit with resounding emphasis on the government’s commitment to fostering an enabling environment for green hydrogen and Power-to-X projects.
On the first day of the summit, a first collaborative initiative was signed as the Director-Generals of three coastal South African provinces, Mbulelo Songoni of the Eastern Cape Provincial Government, Justice Bekebeke of the Northern Cape Provincial Government, and Harry Malila of the Western Cape Provincial Government, signed a Memorandum of Understanding.
This sets the stage for a concerted effort among these provinces for pooling their strengths, expertise, and resources to advance infrastructure, skills development, and policy and regulatory frameworks. Each province brings to the table a distinctive set of advantages, including their untapped wind and solar potential, which, when harnessed collectively, promises to significantly advance the provinces’s green hydrogen development.
Anglo American Platinum, BMW Group, and Sasol also formalised a partnership. Priscillah Mabelane for Sasol, Craig Miller of Anglo American, and Peter van Binsbergen representing BMW set the strategic alliance up to spearhead the introduction of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and hydrogen refueling infrastructure in South Africa.
Driving green hydrogen collaboration in Africa
As nations across Africa seek opportunities for economic development and climate change mitigation, collaboration between African countries has emerged as key to drive green hydrogen development.
One factor motivating this collaboration is the shared wealth of renewable energy resources. Many African countries have abundant sunlight and wind, which are essential for green hydrogen production. By working together, these countries can make better use of these natural advantages. In particular, shared infrastructure and the need to work towards harmonised standards and regulations for the emerging green hydrogen and Power-to-X markets were emphasised.
Exemplifying this regional cooperation are two initiatives: the Africa Green Hydrogen Alliance and the Southern African Green Hydrogen Corridor between South Africa to Namibia.
The Africa Green Hydrogen Alliance
The Africa Green Hydrogen Alliance, under the chairmanship of Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, the Minister in the Presidency for Electricity, aims to foster increased collaboration and expedite the advancement of green hydrogen projects across the African continent.
This Alliance, consisting of Egypt, Kenya, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, and South Africa, centers its efforts on shaping public and regulatory policies, capacity building, financing mechanisms, and certification standards, all directed toward catalysing green hydrogen production for both domestic utilisation and export ventures.
And another collaboration was launched: the first meeting of the South African-German Hydrogen Task Force, announced in June by Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa and German Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Protection Robert Habeck took place during the Summit.
Empowering women in the emerging green hydrogen economy
On the second day of the Summit, the Presidency of South Africa hosted a Women in Green Hydrogen breakfast. The panel focused on the barriers and challenges faced by women in the industry, highlighting the lessons to be learned from women entrepreneurs and networks that already connect women. Priscilla Mabelane, Executive Vice President of Sasol, gave an inspiring keynote speech on not leaving women affected by a lack of energy access behind.
Shared insights from tools and studies in knowledge sessions
In the afternoon sessions, panels and presentations shed light on topics such as standards and certification, provincial strategies and special economic zones, project finance, and how to engage with civil society and communities.
The International Power-to-X Hub and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH hosted knowledge sessions on carbon sources availability and utilisation in South Africa and the Business Opportunity Analyser, among others. During the “Hydrogen Tank” sessions, companies pitched their projects in progress in South Africa. Recordings of the sessions are available here: Livestream | Green Hydrogen Summit
Two sentiments echoed throughout the Summit: Firstly, moving from talks to action. And the importance of collaboration, embodied in the African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
The South Africa Green Hydrogen Summit was hosted under Green Hydrogen South Africa by the Presidency of South Africa, Infrastructure South Africa, and the Digital Council.
Photos 1-4 by GovernmentZA available under the following link GovernmentZA | Flickr