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Renewables & Energy Efficiency South Africa

Q&A: An inside look into Sanedi’s hydrogen progress

In an exclusive interview with Bizcommunity, Professor Sampson Mamphweli, head of energy secretariat and research lead at the South African National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi), sheds light on Sanedi's hydrogen initiatives and strategic partnerships, and their impact on local communities.
Professor Sampson Mamphweli was made Head of the Energy Secretariat in the office of the Chief Executive Officer at the South African National Energy Development Institute in January 2023
Professor Sampson Mamphweli was made Head of the Energy Secretariat in the office of the Chief Executive Officer at the South African National Energy Development Institute in January 2023

Could you share your insights on the community's reception of the hydrogen project in Limpopo?

The community has embraced the project wholeheartedly. They recognise its potential to uplift them economically and have shown unwavering support from the initial stages. The project addresses a crucial need for energy, particularly benefiting young people involved in agriculture.

While the technical intricacies of hydrogen technologies might not be fully grasped, the community understands their role in generating electricity for farming and the community centre.

How does this project build upon Sanedi's previous work in renewable energy integration?

This project marks a significant step forward, taking lab-based technologies into real-world applications. It integrates various technologies to provide energy solutions for the community, aligning with the South African Hydrogen Society Roadmap.

We are also piloting an integrated system that not only provides energy but also supports economic activities like fruit, vegetable, and fish farming. This project serves as a model for future nationwide rollouts.

How does this project contribute to South Africa's broader hydrogen economy goals?

The Limpopo project is a catalytic project, one of many initiatives driving South Africa's hydrogen economy. Alongside large-scale projects focused on hydrogen production, this project demonstrates the immediate economic impact of these technologies in rural communities.

It empowers local communities by creating job opportunities and reducing the need for migration.

Are there any policies or strategies in place to support the development of local hydrogen technologies?

Absolutely. South Africa has policies and strategies to foster the hydrogen economy. We have the Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) programme with sub-programmes focusing on infrastructure, production, and commercialisation.

We are actively promoting the use of locally developed intellectual property and have successfully exported membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) produced in South Africa to international markets.

Could you elaborate on the collaboration with Stellenbosch University (SU) on wind energy?

SU is a crucial partner in our Renewable Energy Hub and Spokes Programme. Their expertise extends from designing and manufacturing wind turbines to testing and deployment.

We are integrating their 4kW wind turbine into the project and envision scaling up to 300kW turbines in the future, contributing to green hydrogen production for vehicles.

What are your final thoughts on the progress of South Africa's hydrogen economy?

South Africa is making significant strides in the hydrogen economy, with substantial investments expected by 2050. The Limpopo project is a testament to our commitment to using hydrogen technologies to uplift communities and create sustainable economic development.

We are actively collaborating with international partners, attracting investments, and supporting local innovation to drive the growth of the hydrogen economy.

About Lindsey Schutters

Lindsey is the editor for ICT, Construction&Engineering and Energy&Mining at Bizcommunity
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