Hydrogen has an enormous potential to be the main source of power in the future to replace power generated with fossil fuels like coal and petroleum, the cause of much of the global warming that the earth is experiencing.
South Africa is in a unique position to capitalise on the rapidly developing use of electrolysers to split hydrogen from oxygen in water to "harvest" the hydrogen. South Africa has a rich source of sunshine to use solar power for the process and also a rich supply of platinum, which is used to keep the two elements separate. Much of the expertise needed is already available at Sasol.Lael Bethlehem and Babette Gallard
There are other countries, especially in North Africa and the Middle East, which are equally well placed to capitalise on these developments, which means the time to act is now, said Lael Bethlehem, our speaker at the meeting this week.
She was suggested as a speaker by Babette Gallard.
Lael is an investment executive at Hosken Consolidated Investments, and has been involved in the development of Karoshoek Solar One, a solar power project in the Northern Cape which feeds power to Eskom. HCI is a part owner of Karoshoek.
She said although there have been many breakthroughs in developing the technology required for the process, especially in the past five years, energy from hydrogen still costs about three times as much as that generated by fossil fuels.
Set-up costs to build plants are, however, already lower than that of coal generating plants and the market for so-called green hydrogen is developing rapidly in the shipping and aviation spheres, which will serve to bring the cost down. Much research is also being done in the automotive industry.Paul Kasango with Nola Ostle