South African companies showcase hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle, but commercialisation challenges remain.
Showcasing the technology at the Smarter Mobility Africa Summit in Johannesburg this week, they used a Toyota Mirai fuel cell electric vehicle with Air Products’ dispensing technology and hydrogen produced by Sasol. The partners have been working together since 2021 to promote the use of hydrogen.
‘The challenge is now to commercialise a hydrogen mobility ecosystem in South Africa because it is a costly undertaking. It now needs more partners, investors, and support from the government.
‘The current partnership is looking at so-called eco-clusters as a start, i.e. high commercial traffic areas in the country. Initially the Pretoria-Johannesburg region could be well suited as these are high volume routes which could justify investment in hydrogen refuelling infrastructure,’ said Andrew Kirby, President and CEO of Toyota SA Motors.
The last week of September saw the UK and Germany agree to cooperate on accelerating the development of an international industry and trade in hydrogen. The governments also plan on ‘showing the world how to expand new, net-zero friendly markets,’ and emphasised their commitment to advancing innovative and renewable hydrogen technologies.
‘This agreement will underpin the development of this new fuel, not just for our respective countries but also for an international trade that could be transformative in our work towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2050,’ said Lord Callanan, the UK’s Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance.
The collaboration comprises five pillars, which include: establishing international leadership on hydrogen markets; research and development on hydrogen from production to end use; and promoting trade for hydrogen, plus related goods, technologies and services.
As well as helping both countries reach their net-zero targets, private investment in hydrogen technologies and projects is set to follow the agreements, both governments said. The partners will also discuss safety standards that can be used internationally with the aim of establishing reliable, stable low carbon hydrogen, with a focus on renewables.
This development follows the publication of the International Energy Agency’s Global Hydrogen Review 2023, which asserts that investment plans for low emissions hydrogen are at risk due to lagging policy support and rising cost pressures.
In the area of trade the review notes: ‘Today hydrogen trade flows are limited to a few existing hydrogen pipelines connecting industrial areas in Belgium, France and the Netherlands, and to a few pilot projects to demonstrate hydrogen trade by ship.’
The report adds that there are various technology options available to trade hydrogen internationally, with the report listing several completed or planned trade pilot projects for low-emission hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuel between 2020–2023.