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Saldanha Bay poised to become the centre of green hydrogen production in SA

Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone. Picture: Supplied

Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 21, 2022

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Cape Town - With an an abundance of solar and wind resources in Saldanha Bay to supply large amounts of renewable energy, experts have urged that a green hydrogen economy be developed in the area as it reportedly had the potential to become a promising hydrogen fuel export hub.

In a series of webinars by the Saldanha Bay Innovation Campus, where various panels of experts elaborated on the future of hydrogen fuel in the energy transition, Saldanha Bay was hailed as a prime location for the production of green hydrogen.

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PwC and the World Energy Council explained that green hydrogen used renewable electricity to power electrolysis that split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, and because green hydrogen did not require fossil fuels, it was a better long-term solution to help “decarbonise” economies.

At a recent webinar, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) senior research engineer Thomas Roos said the Saldanha Bay area was a perfect location for a green hydrogen economy to be developed as its solar and wind resources had the potential for large renewable energy electricity at competitive costs.

Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone (SBIDZ) CEO Kaashifah Beukes agreed and said a hydrogen export hub would also greatly benefit the community through job creation in hydrogen production, the construction of desalination plants, production and storage facilities and retrofitting of existing plant – maritime and other – to deal with the transition.

Beukes added that it would also benefit the country’s energy needs as switching to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly fuel source would improve air quality, the general environment, and because green hydrogen needed much renewable energy, it could help build overall energy resilience to the national grid and ease the burden for the country.

Roos said the war in Ukraine had also accelerated the transition in Europe toward renewable energy and the EU would soon be increasing its demand for larger volumes of renewable hydrogen imports – which would be where prime green hydrogen production hubs would become vital.

In agreement, Global Opportunities at the Global Maritime Forum project lead Katrina Abhold said the SBIDZ had the space, was on a major shipping route and had access to strong renewable energy sources which made it an ideal location to produce and export scalable hydrogen fuel.

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SBIDZ executive Adinda Preller said: “In South Africa, hydrogen is used in the fuels and chemicals sector, and there is global interest in its use as a pathway to decarbonisation.

“Recent reports showed that South Africa could generate power fuels based on renewable hydrogen.

“It concluded that Saldanha Bay was well placed for the export of power fuels to Northwest Europe and the Far East, at costs competitive with other renewable-rich countries,” Preller said.

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