Cape Times

Fuel-cell buses could drive the econ­omy

- Medupe is De­part­ment of Trade and In­dus­try spokesper­son SId­well Medupe Business · South African government · Belarus · Philippines Department of Trade and Industry · The German government · Iceland · South Africa · Africa · Belgium · Germany

THE South African gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts to de­velop a vi­able fuel-cell man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try that will con­trib­ute to­wards stim­u­lat­ing eco­nomic growth, cre­at­ing jobs, gen­er­at­ing ex­port rev­enue and pro­duc­ing cleaner en­ergy, are gain­ing trac­tion.

This was said by the Min­is­ter of Trade and In­dus­try, Dr Rob Davies, ahead of a two day fuel-cell bus work­shop that the De­part­ment of Trade and In­dus­try (the dti) hosts in the city in part­ner­ship with the Ger­man gov­ern­ment from Mon­day.

The pur­pose of the work­shop is to pro­vide a plat­form where South Africa can learn from the Ger­mans who have suc­cess­fully rolled out fuel-cell buses in var­i­ous cities in their coun­try.

Ac­cord­ing to Davies, the main fo­cus of South Africa’s fuel-cell strat­egy is to de­velop a glob­ally com­pet­i­tive fuel-cell man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try adding value to SA’s plat­inum re­sources that will drive mar­ket growth and en­sure longterm sus­tain­abil­ity of the coun­try’s plat­inum min­ing in­dus­try.

“The ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion of Plat­inum Group Met­als (PGMs) is a key ob­jec­tive of South Africa’s ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion strat­egy. The dti has pri­ori­tised fuel cells for pro-ac­tive devel­op­ment based on the im­pact to the coun­try’s eco­nomic growth.

“One of the in­ter­ven­tions iden­ti­fied in the In­dus­trial Pol­icy Ac­tion Plan (Ipap) is de­vel­op­ing and grow­ing PGMs ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion and de­mand for plat­inum in SA be­yond the cur­rent lev­els, through the devel­op­ment of a fuel-cell in­dus­try,” said Davies.

He adds that the over­all goal is to cre­ate a sus­tain­able lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor for plat­inum-based fuel-cells and its sub-com­po­nents by ben­e­fit­ing the PGM minerals through ap­pro­pri­ate mech­a­nisms that sup­port a lo­cal and global mar­ket. “This will re­sult in job cre­ation, at­tract­ing new in­vest­ments; gen­er­a­tion of ex­port rev­enue through man­u­fac­ture and ex­port of value-added plat­inum based fu­el­cells, com­po­nents and tech­nolo­gies; skills devel­op­ment; di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion of the cur­rent en­ergy mix through pro­duc­tion of cleaner en­ergy; and so­cio-eco­nomic up­lift­ment of our peo­ple.”

Var­i­ous in­ter­ven­tions are be­ing put in place to stim­u­late de­mand for plat­inum and to gear up fuel-cells as a large-scale de­mand driver.

SA’s fo­cus is on ap­pli­ca­tions in the coun­try and sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa in sta­tion­ary, mo­bile, ma­te­ri­als han­dling, min­ing equip­ment and dis­trib­uted gen­er­a­tion ap­pli­ca­tions.

“Last year, a steer­ing com­mit­tee com­pris­ing of gov­ern­ment, min­ing houses, lo­cal en­gi­neer­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies, as well as tech­nol­ogy providers was es­tab­lished to jointly craft and im­ple­ment a fuel-cell roadmap for in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion in SA, as well as to iden­tify mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties and tech­nolo­gies for pri­ori­ti­sa­tion.

“The im­por­tance of col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween all spheres of gov­ern­ment and in­dus­try to cre­ate and adopt new mar­kets and tech­nolo­gies for PGMs can never be overem­pha­sised. A num­ber of key projects aligned to the roadmap are be­ing pur­sued by the min­ing com­pa­nies, tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ers and gov­ern­ment.”

He says he is hope­ful that the fuel-cell bus work­shop tak­ing place in the city will lead to the in­tro­duc­tion of fuel-cell buses in ma­jor South African cities af­ter learn­ing from the Ger­man ex­pe­ri­ence.

Ger­many is one of the lead­ing coun­tries glob­ally in the roll out of fuel-cell buses.

 ?? Picture: EPA ?? NEW IN­DUS­TRY: The Department of Trade and In­dus­try will host a two day fuel-cell bus work­shop in the city in part­ner­ship with the Ger­man gov­ern­ment.
Picture: EPA NEW IN­DUS­TRY: The Department of Trade and In­dus­try will host a two day fuel-cell bus work­shop in the city in part­ner­ship with the Ger­man gov­ern­ment.

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