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SA could lead in fuel cells



During her speech at the COP17 event, Anglo American Chief Executive, CYNTHIA CARROLL highlighted that South Africa has the potential to be a leader in the fuel cell industry through a technology partnership between government and the private sector.

South Africa has the potential to be a leader in the fuel cell industry through a technology partnership between government and the private sector.

Speaking at the launch of the Global Business Day in Durban, a COP17 event, Anglo American Chief Executive Cynthia Carroll highlighted the benefits for South Africa if the potential of fuel cells were realised, but stressed the need to accelerate the commercialisation of the industry.

‚Prioritising the development of a local fuel cell industry will create many thousands of jobs, provide clean, reliable power for South Africa, and will support the government’s drive for more effective in-country beneficiation. Momentum is building in the global fuel cell market to accelerate the application of this proven and versatile technology. To make South Africa a truly global player, the focus now must be to promote a strong, viable local manufacturing industry that supports the everyday use of fuel cell technology,‚ Cynthia Carroll said.

‚South Africa is in a unique position to reap significant benefits from a local fuel cell market. There is strong political support for local beneficiation and clean energy programmes. Fuel cell demonstration projects are under way around the country and it has the necessary manufacturing and engineering expertise. The window of opportunity to make this happen is now,‚ Cynthia Carroll said.

Fuel cells are a proven technology, providing clean, reliable and cost-effective power. Platinum-based fuel cells that use hydrogen are versatile, scalable and convert stored hydrogen into electricity with great efficiency.

‚Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is one of the challenges of this century. We have to harness the potential of proven renewable technology now in order to accelerate our move into a low carbon economy and we see platinum-based fuel cells playing a significant role,‚ said Neville Nicolau, Chief Executive Officer of Anglo American Platinum Limited.

A Carbon Trust report, commissioned by Anglo American, into the potential of fuel cells for South Africa has informed this view. According to the report, hundreds of thousands of new jobs in South Africa could be created over the next 30 years provided the appropriate levels of investment in innovation, manufacturing, installation and maintenance are made. In addition, the deployment of stationary fuel cells could help meet the country’s existing energy security challenges, providing rural communities with access to energy without major grid expansion.

The Carbon Trust report provides a roadmap to 2030, outlining how South Africa can best develop the fuel cell industry. Better articulating the vision and commitment to long-term investment, appointing a government champion to drive commercialisation, and securing international financial assistance are among the recommendations.

The Global Business Day launch was hosted by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and sponsored by Anglo American. The event was supported by the South African government as part of COP17.