CHIETA backs SA’s green hydrogen economic drive

By Yershen Pillay, CHIETA CEO

South Africa has demonstrated its desire to develop a green economy as calls for nations to manage their natural resources sustainably reach a crescendo.

Mindful of this need, the Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (CHIETA) recently commissioned a comprehensive study of hydrogen power and the hydrogen economy in South Africa, aimed at assisting the government and companies within the chemical industries.

The study will direct and inform the Authority’s participation when it comes to meaningful skills and economic development for the sector. It is in line with South Africa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery plan that President Cyril Ramaphosa introduced in National Assembly in October 2020.

The plan includes a significant green component, which seeks to promote the creation of new ‘green’ jobs, industries and companies. It also acknowledges the need to invest in research and development to support green industrialisation, which will see the manufacture of green hydrogen liquid fuel cells and platinum fuel.

The CHIETA green hydrogen power study will focus on the collection and analysis of documents, baseline data, and a literature review on the state of the hydrogen economy in South Africa.

It will culminate in a green hydrogen research report that responds to the project’s objectives.

Meanwhile CHIETA will work with the Northern Cape Economic Development and Investment Promotion Agency (NCEDA) to ensure a well-coordinated and shared response to skills planning for the green hydrogen economy.

CHIETA will also actively pursue a green hydrogen research chair position in collaboration with public institutions to advance excellence and innovation in green hydrogen for the future development of scarce skills.

The Authority will invest more than R5-million into the CHIETA Green Hydrogen Research Chair as part of its increasing investment into research and development.

The local chemical industry has a significant role to play in the evolution of renewable energy. Sasol, for example, is leading the green hydrogen economic drive in South Africa. It is conducting a feasibility study for the production of green hydrogen at Boegoebaai, a port in the Richtersveld municipality. As our biggest member company and largest skills levy contributor, Sasol hopes to establish the port as a global centre for green hydrogen production.

Through projects and initiatives such as Sasol’s Boegoebaai research, a roadmap is being crafted that will stand the chemical industry in good stead and position the country as a global leader in the production of green hydrogen energy.

To this end, CHIETA is working on a green hydrogen skills plan for the petrochemicals sub-sector. It will enable us to identify the top 10 skills in the green hydrogen economy and close the hydrogen skills gap by ensuring that talent is locally produced.

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