Fuel cell tech an answer to load shedding
Cape Town - Many companies were of the opinion that fuel cell technology was an alternative to the major problems South Africa had been experiencing with load shedding.
These were some of the comments made at the first annual HYSA (Hydrogen SA) meeting held in Cape Town. The purpose of the meeting was to promote technical and commercial interaction between the HySA centres of competence (CoCs) and stakeholders in the fuel cell technology sector, with the aim of strengthening public-private partnerships under the HySA programme.
Fahmida Smith, the Fuel Cell Coordinator for Impala Platinum, said that even though R200m for a three-year project had been invested into fuel cell technology, there were still not regulations in place for this technology. “It will take between 18 to 20 months to do this. We want to play an enabling role in the fuel cell market,” she said.
Kleantha Pillay from Anglo American said that they also had great success with fuel cell technology. “Stationary fuel cell technology is important to stimulate the industry. This is a window opportunity because there are such a lot of constraints on the grid. With fuel cells, you can quickly electrify schools and clinics.
"We have already installed three fuel cells at schools. And, as part of our social upliftment project, we have the Rural Electrification project in Kroonstad. But in moving South Africa forward, government has a huge role to play in procurement,” she said.
Andre Grzesiak, the business development manager for Air Products, commented that the energy market had become significant to their annual revenue. “It now makes up 23% of our revenue. We are currently collaborating with the Department of Energy on an energy project in the Eastern Cape,” he said.
Dr Phil Mjwara, the director-general of the Department of Science and Technology, said the country's energy challenges had provided them with an opportunity to look differently at the use of hydrogen fuel cell technology.
“The department's National Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology (HFCT) research, development and innovation strategy is being implemented by three HySA centres of competence. It is aimed at stimulating innovation along the value chain of HFCT in the country.
"The ultimate goal of the strategy is to facilitate the establishment of a South African HFCT industry that captures a significant share of the global market.”