Hydrogen holds hope for many nations as they seek to implement the Paris Agreement and its decarbonisation targets. south-africa has recognised the potential also. There are several properties that make hydrogen an excellent energy vector and its deployment is complimentary to an energy mix that is high in renewables.
Generation of electrical power from renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydro schemes is subject to weather patterns, daily sunlight profiles and seasonal rainfall. However, the demand pattern for electricity consumption follows different daily and annual cycles. Hydrogen can be combined synergistically with these renewable power sources to bridge the gaps between supply and demand.
Hydrogen is a clean burning fuel with zero carbon dioxide emissions. When it is produced from renewable power it can contribute both to improvements in ambient air quality and a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. When used on power generation plants to substitute coal, oil or natural gas there is the opportunity to decarbonise electricity generation and re-life existing assets.
With abundant potential for wind, solar and hydroelectric power generation, south-africa can also look forward to ‘energy-autonomy’ through the conversion of renewables to green hydrogen on electrolysers. Perhaps south-africa can transition from being a net energy importer to becoming an exporter of green hydrogen or derivatives such as ammonia or methanol.