South Africa: Hydrogen Economy as Opportunity

by | 19. Oct 2023 - 12:09 | Economy

Cooperation announced between three industry giants on hydrogen mobility.

The world’s largest platinum producer, Anglo American Platinum, BMW Group South Africa, and the oil and chemical company Sasol want to drive South Africa’s hydrogen economy jointly. The companies agreed this week to cooperate in the field of mobility. Specifically, the project involves vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells and the associated refueling infrastructure. BMW will subject its iX5 Hydrogen model to testing under real-world conditions as part of the project. Sasol will supply the green, sustainable hydrogen. The company provided an initial batch of the energy carrier in June and plans to ramp up production by 2024. According to the mining group Anglo American Platinum, it has invested in hydrogen technology for many years, an important application area for its products.

Platinum group metals are needed for fuel cells in the automotive sector and for hydrogen production by water electrolysis. South Africa is one of the most important producing countries for these precious metals, which are also of central importance for the catalytic converters of vehicles with internal combustion engines. Given global efforts to reduce emissions, it is becoming apparent that the latter field of application could disappear, at least in part, in the long term. Therefore, the Minerals Council South Africa sees the development of a green hydrogen economy as a new opportunity for this sector, one of South Africa’s most important industries.

By 2040, 35 percent of annual platinum demand is expected to come from hydrogen technologies, according to the World Platinum Investment Council.  The industry organization said that platinum-based so-called PEM electrolysis alone could reduce up to 11 percent of the C02 emissions set out in the Paris Agreement by 2030.

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