Home Business Anglo American advocates the development of the “hydrogen valley” SA

Anglo American advocates the development of the “hydrogen valley” SA

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South Africa is seeking to unlock its nascent hydrogen economy, with the government envisioning the development of a vast “hydrogen valley” stretching from Limpopo to Gauteng and all the way to KwaZulu-Natal – a plan backed by mining giant Anglo American.

Speaking at the conglomerate’s opening of its first nuGen Zero Emissions Haulage Solutions (ZEHS) hydrogen-powered truck at Magaloquena’s mine Limpapo on Friday, Anglo American Platinum CEO Natasha Villon said the group was pushing for the plan.

Read: The world’s largest hydrogen trucks start operating in Anglo American

“Hydrogen plays an important and broad role in achieving a low-carbon future – especially as an energy source that allows us to develop a renewable electricity system … We are particularly excited about nuGen’s potential, among other opportunities, as we work to develop hydrogen. in South Africa, ”she added.

“South Africa is one of four countries that can generate more renewable energy than what we need ourselves. This means that we can become an efficient energy exporter, which will create a completely new economy. ”

In October 2021, the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) together with the South African Institute for National Development (Sanedi) published a feasibility study for the proposed hydrogen valley, noting that the “valley” would cover approximately 835 km from Magaloquena in Limpopo. industrial and commercial corridor in Johannesburg and leads south of Durban.

Billions for the economy and jobs

The study notes that the proposed valley has the potential to add between 65 billion and 146 billion rupees to the country’s GDP through direct and indirect contributions.

It is estimated that by 2050, 14,000 to 30,000 jobs a year can be created by launching South Africa’s hydrogen economy. The report also predicts that demand for hydrogen in the valley alone (including in central cities and provinces along the route) could reach 185,000 tons by 2030.

Speaking at the launch of the Anglo-American hydrogen truck, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the hydrogen valley would position South Africa as a “global center of green hydrogen production”.

“This will create new industries, help decarbonise sectors such as transport, manufacturing and construction, and create new jobs for our people in all these provinces,” he added.

The Hydrogen Valley proposal stems from the President’s State of the Nation Address in 2021, in which he named hydrogen fuel cells as an integral alternative source of energy with national priority.

Ramaphosa also established the Presidential Coordinating Commission (PCC) on Climate Change to promote a climate-sustainable economy and facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy.

DSI Director-General Dr Phil Mjwara believes the Hydrogen Valley is an important national initiative that will promote the country’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan after Covid and continue to advocate for a sustainable, sustainable and inclusive economy.

“Creating a hydrogen valley in South Africa is seen as an opportunity that has great potential to open up growth, revitalize the industrial sector and position South Africa as an exporter of cost-effective green hydrogen in the world. Thus, hydrogen remains an integral part of our Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, ”he said.

Hydrogen plant and mine dump truck

The Mohalokwena mine in Anglo American is the first mine in the CO where a hydrogen plant and a hydrogen dump truck have been successfully launched.

NuGen hydrogen trucks are expected to replace 40 diesel trucks at the Mogalakwena mine and replace the mining company’s fleet of about 400 trucks by 2040.

According to Julian Soles, head of the Anglo-American Division of Technology Development, Mining and Sustainability, the move would be equivalent to removing 500,000 diesel cars from the road. This transition is expected to “take shape” in 2026.

Sales says that although the truck is fully functional, some commissioning procedures remain unfulfilled, which have so far prevented it from operating on a commercial scale.

Ramaphosa described the nuGen project as a valuable factor in economic growth and employment that will contribute to the country’s decarbonisation efforts. “It leads us from conceptualization to reality.”

The construction of the nuGen ZEHS project, which officially began in 2019 in partnership with creative engineering and technology companies ENGIE, First Mode, Ballard and NPROXX, is a continuation of the company’s eight-year FutureSmartMining program, which supports the mine’s commitment to carbon neutrality. targets all operations by 2040.

Tony O’Neill, CTO of Anglo American, said the program creates opportunities for sustainable mining by prioritizing technology and digitalization.

“It was harder to design for a dump truck than a train. This is a real change of game, ”O’Neill said.

Inspired by its diesel predecessor, the nuGen truck is currently the world’s lightest 510-tonne truck and is the first to run on hydrogen with its 220-tonne capacity and 290-tonne payload.

The only emission of the truck is water vapor. Once the model replaces all diesel trucks, on-site diesel emissions are expected to be reduced by 80%.

The truck operates at a zero-emission plant that includes a storage and refueling complex using Africa’s largest alkaline power plant with a capacity of 3.5 MW, which produces 99.97% pure hydrogen. The plant also includes a solar photovoltaic (PV) field that supports the operation of the dump truck. Its nominal capacity for hydrogen storage is 800 kg.

Noting the intensified implementation of the Eskom load reset, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gued Mantashe instructed Anglo American to introduce renewable energy sources into the national grid, not just for its dump trucks.

This comes after the utility announced its zero-emission target for 2050.

Anglo American announced a partnership with the world leader in renewable energy EDF Renewables to develop a regional renewable energy ecosystem (RREE) earlier this year.

“This ecosystem will be designed to meet all of our operational electricity needs in South Africa through renewable energy by 2030, while maintaining the resilience of local power systems and greater energy decarbonisation in the country,” the group said.

Villon noted that the photovoltaic plant at the Magaloquena mine, which is still being completed, will generate 100 MW of renewable energy and eventually have a capacity of up to 320 MW.

Nondumisa Lehutso is a Moneyweb intern.

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