Fuel-cell buses could drive the economy
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.