South Africa could become a hotspot for carbon-free fuel

Durban Port (transnet file image)

Posted July 5, 2021 3:14 PM by The Maritime Executive

The shipping industry is headed full throttle towards reducing CO2 emissions. The quick access and cost-effective use of greener marine fuels will be the crucial moment for this change. It is therefore imperative to identify regions of the world that will become hotspots for green fuels with the spillage of heavy fuel oil.

Ricardo and the Environmental Defense Fund recently released a report suggesting that South Africa has tremendous opportunities to supply the global shipping industry with carbon-free fuels. South Africa’s vast natural resources, geography, and importance along major shipping routes are among the factors that could fuel the rise of a low-carbon shipping economy in the country. Over 90 percent of South Africa’s electricity supply comes from coal, and the introduction of carbon-free fuels would also help the country’s overall carbon commitments.

“Our study shows that South Africa has enormous potential in terms of renewable energies. It is enough to meet the country’s domestic electricity needs, as well as the production of carbon-free fuels to power merchant ships that refuel in its international ports. The introduction of carbon-free propulsion technologies in the ports of South Africa could be an investment between investment [$8 and $12 billion] into onshore infrastructure by 2030. All it takes to unleash this investment is the right policy incentives put in place by the International Maritime Organization, ”said Aoife O’Leary, director of international climate at the Environmental Defense Fund.

South Africa has been very proactive in showing a way to invest in green fuels. The government is already developing a hydrogen strategy and an investor roadmap that will identify green hydrogen as the first of the five strategic “big frontier” investment opportunities. The other four options include digital industries and next generation infrastructures; Production and logistics supported by special economic zones; industrial cannabis and advanced agricultural processing; and scaling environmental, social and governance investments.

In order to continue to take advantage of the opportunities arising from the transition to carbon-free marine fuels, South Africa is considering a co-financing partner for the planned greenfield port of Boegoebaai in the North Cape region. The government hopes to integrate green hydrogen and green ammonia production facilities for export into the new port complex.

A recent study commissioned by Agora Energiewende found that South Africa could develop the capacity to produce 3.8 million tons of green hydrogen by 2050. Two million tons of this hydrogen could be used domestically to make synthetic fuels, green steel, and chemicals. The report found that such production would help South Africa compete in the import markets for green hydrogen, particularly in Europe. where annual imports of green hydrogen are projected to exceed 30 million tons by 2050.

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