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Hive Hydrogen project will show how just energy transition is possible, says Gcabashe

Hive Hydrogen
December 11, 2023

by nfdeklerk 0 comment

Hive Hydrogen project will show how just energy transition is possible, says Gcabashe

Through its green ammonia project in the Eastern Cape, the leadership of Hive Hydrogen South Africa intends showing how a just energy transition is possible, Hive Hydrogen chairperson Thulani Gcabashe highlighted at the signing ceremony of the $5.8-billion Coega green export project.

“We’re already working with governments in all spheres, development funding Institutions, and local businesses to ensure that the full potential of the project’s impact on the development of the Gqeberha area is realised,” said Gcabashe at a time when Hive Hydrogen is collaborating with Itochu of Japan to develop a least-cost green ammonia solution.

Hive Hydrogen and Itochu share objectives regarding the use of green hydrogen and green ammonia in the fight against climate change and Itochu is a potential strategic equity investor and offtaker from the gigascale green hydrogen project.

“We’re also of the same mind about the importance of this investment to impact growth and development in South Africa,” added Gcabashe, a former chairperson of Standard Bank and a former CEO of State electricity utility Eskom.

A conglomerate engaged in domestic and international trading and investment which has 90 offices in 61 countries, Itochu is active in textiles, machinery, mining and metals, energy, chemicals, food, general products, realty, information and communications technology, and finance.

For both Hive Energy of the UK and BuiltAfrica of South Africa, the Coega green ammonia export project is a leading project to contribute towards the decarbonisation of energy systems in their areas of operation.

BuiltAfrica, which was founded by Gcabashe in 2009 as an investment and development business focused on sectors that support sustainable development, spent its first ten years focused on developing renewable energy projects in South Africa, having successfully participated in the early rounds of renewable energy procurement under the South African government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).

During this period two solar generation plants were built and are in operation. In addition to this, the BuiltAfrica Group was involved in energy efficiency projects aimed at lowering peak demand on the power system.

“The significance of the project can be measured in many different ways – the economic impact it will have on the city of Gqeberha as well as the Eastern Cape province, the jobs that will be created, the new skills it will bring, the impact on South Africa’s balance of payments and so on. However, at this very point, where the Climate Conference COP 28 in Dubai is taking place, our attention is drawn to the climate change impacts of the proposed project,” Gcabashe said.

Climate change is a gradual and long-term rise in the earth’s average temperature as measured from pre-industrial time – the late nineteenth century.

The build-up of greenhouse gas, in particular carbon dioxide (CO2), as a result of human activity, has resulted in heat being trapped in the atmosphere.

As temperatures rise, weather patterns get disrupted – and extreme weather conditions are experienced increasingly.

“A very recent example of this is the heatwave experienced in most of SA making the month of November – the hottest ever recorded! We have also seen flooding in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, which have wrought much misery,” Gcabashe outlined at the signing event covered by Mining Weekly.

Listing some of the most pertinent considerations about climate change that should occupy the minds of all policy makers as well as developers, he said: “We need to contain the rise in temperature to below 1.5 oC [above preindustrial levels] so that we can achieve net-zero by 2050. This will arrest further deterioration. However, in 2023 we are already at 1.1 oC and getting hotter.”

The effects of exceeding the 1.5 oC will be more frequent extreme weather, rapid melting of glaciers resulting in rising sea levels, resulting in ten-million people globally needing to relocate, and more severe droughts that would put more than 20-million people at risk of hunger.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had, he said, worked out several scenarios for increases of 2 oC and 4 oC and these showed absolute devastation, especially in tropical areas.

“The Global South is already bearing the greatest negative impacts of climate change, and yet this part of the world has historically only contributed 3% of total global emissions. This is cold comfort.

“We all need to do what we can to modify behaviour to reduce the amount of carbon that is emitted into the atmosphere. This is where the green ammonia to be produced in Coega comes in,” he pointed out.

The one-million tons of green ammonia a year that will be produced by the Coega project will provide clean energy that will be used in a variety of applications.

Green hydrogen and ammonia are particularly well suited to the decarbonisation of heavy industries and transportation industries.

“A transition from fossil fuel-based energy systems to non-CO2-emitting technologies is inevitable and is already underway,” said Gcabashe.

In South Africa, the REIPPPP has resulted in investment of R256-billion and the installation of 6 200 MW of wind and solar in the last ten years – 5% of South Africa’s energy supply.

In addition to REIPPPP, individuals and businesses are transitioning to solar and battery storage systems for own consumption.

In the first nine months of 2023, R16.9-billion worth of solar panels were imported, giving a capacity of 2 800 MW, more than two stages of loadshedding. This has taken place on the back of R5.6-billion worth of imported solar panels in 2022.

“However, this transition must be just and not leave anyone behind. New jobs, new skills, new mineral beneficiation opportunities are possible,” Gcabashe emphasised.