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Green hydrogen alternative power project strengthens as electricity crisis deepens

The green hydrogen proof-of-concept site in Vredendal, Western Cape. Picture: SUPPLIED

The green hydrogen proof-of-concept site in Vredendal, Western Cape. Picture: SUPPLIED

Published Jul 2, 2022

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This article first appeared in the 28 June 2022 edition of the Cape Argus newspaper.

Cape Town - South Africa’s ongoing electricity crisis has again called attention to the urgent need for reliable, sustainable alternatives to the country’s heavily relied upon coal-generated power.

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In hopes of realising green hydrogen as one of these alternatives, massive support is being given to the Keren Energy Green Hydrogen Project.

This proof-of-concept project, to produce green hydrogen at a site in Vredendal, was established by Sakhumnotho Group Holdings, Keren Energy Investments, Cape Stack, Namaqua Engineering and the South African Institute for Advanced Materials Chemistry at UWC.

The groups involved sought to further the green energy sector by demonstrating the feasibility of producing green hydrogen using solar energy as an energy source.

A 100 kW photovoltaic solar system was installed to produce renewable energy that would in turn produce green hydrogen to be used in industrial applications and, ultimately, in fuel cell vehicles of the future.

UWC renewable energy researcher and a lead in the design of this project, Stanford Chidziva, said: “As the world’s fossil fuel reserves fast become depleted, it’s vital that alternative and cleaner fuels are found. Renewable energy sources are the way of the future energy needs. A solution to the looming energy crisis can be found in the energy carrier hydrogen.”

In agreement, Keren Energy executive director George van Rensburg said green hydrogen could present a viable solution in the near future as the country battles with power generation and electricity availability.

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The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) and Western Cape provincial government also committed to putting support mechanisms in place to help resource this project.

A brief site visit was conducted by senior government officials last week to understand and assess the status of the green energy project in furtherance of government’s ambition to catalyse the green economy.

Sakhumnotho president Sipho Mseleku said even though it was not yet commercially feasible, they viewed hydrogen as something that would become an important component of the clean energy mix in the near future.

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DTIC Special Economic Zones Policy and Planning acting chief director Thami Klassen said: “This collaboration is key for driving localisation and beneficiation of primary commodities, especially in support of the West Coast-based Saldanha Bay Special Economic Zone”.

From left: George Van Rensburg (Keren Energy), Stanford Chidziva (UWC) and Henk Myburgh (NamaquaEngineering). | Picture: SUPPLIED

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Cape Argus

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