South Africa Hydrogen & Industrial Decarbonisation Project

The Republic of South Africa (RSA) is heavily dependent on fossils fuels for its industrial and domestic energy needs, with coal-fired power plants accounting for 85% of its electricity production. The RSA is ranked eighth in the world in terms of the total amount of coal used for electricity generation.

In September 2020 the RSA government launched its Low Emission Development Strategy (LEDS), committing the country to a Net Zero emissions target of 2050. Achieving this goal will require the wholesale decarbonisation of industry across the RSA.

Energy Systems Catapult, on behalf of the Science & Innovation Network – British High Commission in South Africa, and financially supported by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), is working to understand the challenges to decarbonisation in South Africa.

The Challenge

Industry is South Africa’s biggest user of energy (52%) meaning the decarbonisation of this sector will be crucial to achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050.

The RSA’s dependence on coal-fired power stations for electricity generation, however, makes achieving this target increasingly difficult. Alternatives such as hydrogen need to be explored if South African industry is to wean itself off of polluting fossil fuels.

Our Approach

Energy Systems Catapult has undertaken in-depth analysis of the RSA’s industrial sector to identify barriers and opportunities to decarbonise. In addition, the team at The Catapult have sought to identify and engage with, stakeholders across government, academia, and industry.

The aim of the work is to identify suitable pathways to support growth and decarbonisation of industry with a focus on the role of hydrogen in the country. The Project also aims to increase bilateral collaboration between both countries through research and knowledge sharing.

Next Steps

Phase Two of the Project will see Energy Systems Catapult undertake deeper stakeholder engagement, exploring opportunities in hydrogen and technology manufacturing to advance commercial partnerships between innovators in the UK and the RSA.

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