Cape Times

Fuel-cell buses could drive the economy

- Medupe is Department of Trade and Industry spokespers­on SIdwell Medupe

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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