Three industry giants – Anglo American Platinum, BMW Group South Africa, and Sasol South Africa Limited, have joined forces to introduce cutting-edge hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and innovative hydrogen refuelling technology to the country.
This alliance signifies a pivotal step in accelerating the adoption of FCEVs and the establishment of the essential infrastructure needed for a green hydrogen mobility ecosystem. The agreement, officially signed at the 2023 South African Green Hydrogen Summit, brings together expertise, resources and a shared commitment to address climate change and foster clean energy solutions. As South Africa aligns with a global shift towards sustainable practices, this collaboration stands as a testament to the nation’s ambitions to be a competitive player in the dynamic and growing hydrogen economy.
BMW’s Role in the Green Revolution
As part of this visionary partnership, BMW Group South Africa will provide hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles, featuring the BMW iX5 Hydrogen model. This vehicle has a powertrain capable of generating a maximum of 295 kW, with 125 kW coming from the hydrogen system and an additional 170 kW from lithium-ion technology. The result is a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of under 6 seconds and a top speed of 180 km/h.
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These vehicles will soon take to the streets of South Africa, becoming part of an international trial aimed at assessing the real-world performance of the BMW iX5 Hydrogen. Following four years of development work, this trial will represent a pivotal moment in showcasing the practicality and viability of hydrogen fuel cell technology for everyday use.
Sasol’s Contribution to Green Hydrogen
Sasol South Africa Limited, a key partner in this endeavour, has committed to supplying the green hydrogen and mobile refueler, vital components of the hydrogen infrastructure. With over two decades of experience in producing and marketing hydrogen, Sasol is well-versed in the potential of this versatile energy source. The company recently marked a significant milestone by producing its first batch of green hydrogen at its Sasolburg facility in June. Moreover, plans are in place to scale up production to a commercial level in 2024, coinciding with the launch of a 69MW wind farm in the Eastern Cape.
Priscillah Mabelane, Sasol’s Executive Vice President for the Energy Business, highlighted the urgency of addressing climate change, emphasizing the company’s dedication to pioneering cutting-edge solutions. She noted, “As Sasol, we are excited to be part of this demonstration, which has been strategic in showcasing local capability and the art of the possible.”
Anglo American Platinum’s Vital Role:
Anglo American Platinum has been a long-standing investor in hydrogen technologies and provider of platinum group metals (PGMs) used in FCEVs, and will play an essential role in this collaborative effort. The company will work closely with BMW and Sasol to develop a local green hydrogen mobility ecosystem and ensure the smooth logistics of the green hydrogen market in South Africa.
Craig Miller, CEO of Anglo American Platinum, stressed the significance of hydrogen fuel cells in achieving zero-emission electric vehicles and their role in decarbonizing various forms of transport. FCEVs offer the advantage of quick refuelling times and extended ranges, making them comparable to conventional internal combustion vehicles while providing the substantial benefit of zero emissions. He added, “Our collaboration with Sasol and BMW builds on various partnerships we have around the world to drive green mobility solutions and develop new uses for the products we mine.”
The South African Government’s Green Hydrogen Strategy
This collaborative endeavour couldn’t come at a more opportune time for South Africa. The South African government has been actively pursuing a green hydrogen economy strategy, with the aim of reducing carbon emissions, attracting investment, creating jobs, and driving demand for critical metals and raw materials, including PGMs. Green hydrogen is now a key pillar of this strategy, poised to revolutionize the energy landscape and promote sustainable economic growth.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed South Africa’s intent to become a globally competitive player in the green hydrogen sector. The South Africa Investment Strategy, approved by the cabinet, lists green hydrogen as one of the strategic sectors expected to attract significant foreign and domestic direct investment. This aligns perfectly with the nation’s just energy transition, providing employment opportunities and support to vulnerable workers, communities, and small businesses.
Economic Significance and Auto Sector Impact
The importance of this announcement for the South African economy and the automotive sector cannot be overstated. The collaboration between Anglo American Platinum, BMW Group South Africa, and Sasol South Africa Limited not only accelerates the transition towards sustainable transportation but also positions South Africa as a prominent player in the global hydrogen economy.
South Africa’s green hydrogen strategy holds the promise of adding 3,6% to the nation’s GDP by 2050 and generating approximately 370 000 jobs. This is a significant step towards unlocking investment, reducing carbon emissions, and creating a sustainable energy ecosystem. The establishment of a green mobility infrastructure will also drive the demand for critical metals and raw materials, such as platinum group metals, further bolstering the country’s economy.
In the automotive sector, the introduction of the BMW iX5 and potentially other FCEVs through this collaboration represents a crucial leap toward achieving sustainable mobility solutions. As the world shifts towards cleaner transportation options, South Africa’s automotive industry can position itself as a hub for green technology innovation and manufacturing. This initiative not only aligns with global efforts to reduce emissions but also showcases South Africa as a pioneering nation in the realm of green transportation.
The collaboration between Anglo American Platinum, BMW Group South Africa and Sasol South Africa to introduce hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles and refuelling technology marks a pivotal moment in South Africa’s journey towards a sustainable and prosperous future. As the world embraces clean energy solutions, South Africa’s automotive sector is poised to lead the way in fostering green mobility innovation and manufacturing. This endeavour sets an example for other nations striving for a more sustainable future.