PETROL AND GAS: The giant Sasol synthetic fuel processing plant in Secunda is the largest such plant in the world. File photo.
PETROL AND GAS: The giant Sasol synthetic fuel processing plant in Secunda is the largest such plant in the world. File photo.

Sasol ventures into green energy

By Dineo Faku Time of article published Apr 18, 2021

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PETROCHEMICALS giant Sasol has ventured into green energy, as it unveiled plans to reduce its carbon footprint through a partnership with gas services provider Air Liquide.

Sasol this week said it would also partner with Toyota South Africa to establish a hydrogen mobility corridor as climate change takes centre stage for global investors.

The group, which has previously described climate change as its biggest risk, said it was seeking to procure 900 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy by 2030 with Air Liquide with 600 MW was set for initial procurement this year.

Chief executive Fleetwood Grobler said the 900MW would replace electricity supplied by Eskom.

“This 900MW once fully implemented, will help us to reduce our carbon footprint by over 2 million tons an annum,” said Grobler.

Sasol, which has more than 62 million tons of greenhouse-gas emissions yearly has a roadmap to cut the emissions by at least 10 percent in 2030 – working off its 2017 baseline.

The group is expected to release a new 2050 roadmap on how to reach the targets later this year.

Grobler said the 900MW procurement of green power represented the biggest single biggest renewable announcement by a South African corporate.

He said the move would help South Africa to stimulate local procurement.

“We will really focus on maximising local content in South Africa to ensure job creation stimulation in the procurement process,” Grobler said. “It is important that in Mpumalanga where Eskom and Sasol operate we can demonstrate that renewable energy is a friend and not an enemy to job creation.”

Sasol said it had also partnered with Toyota South Africa for a massive ‘green’ highway project.

Non-profit shareholder activism group Just Share said it believed that Sasol’s plans for renewable energy procurement and green hydrogen represented potentially important progress in relation to Sasol’s decarbonisation efforts.

Just Share’s director for climate engagement, Robyn Hugo, said the green hydrogen prospects in particular were at an exploratory, initial stage, and could take many years to realise.

“Even if these efforts are successful, it is not clear whether – and if so, to what extent – they will impact Sasol’s previously stated climate ambition to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions only by 10 percent off a 2017 baseline by 2030,” Hugo said.

“Investors and climate activists will be watching to see whether Sasol’s 2050 emission reduction roadmap: will include a target to have “net zero” emissions by 2050; will set short-, medium- and long-term targets and a strategy to achieve this goal; and will require that executive remuneration be linked to the achievement of these targets.”

Euromonitor senior research analyst Christele Chokossa said it appeared that Sasol was in line with global trends because going forward, just like technology, the use of renewable energy was set to become a key tool due to its ability to address concerns over gas emission and rising production costs.

Chokossa said this could also increase demand for sustainability at the end-consumer level.

“Besides, the partnership with Toyota might create a synergy that will support the company objective to reduce emission from 61.9 Mt CO2e in 2020 to 57.5 Mt CO2e in 2030. In parallel, the move might also improve Sasol’s competitiveness against operators like Total which in 2020 already partnered with Renergen to distribute liquefied natural gas (LNG),” said Chokossa.

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