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19 Apr 2024

Groundbreaking feasibility study to accelerate green hydrogen international production and export infrastructure

Groundbreaking feasibility study to accelerate green hydrogen international production and export infrastructure

A consortium led by Nelson Mandela University and Ikigai Group has won a UK Government grant under the South Africa-UK PACT programme to deliver an innovative feasibility study to explore the viability of Green Hydrogen Production and Export Infrastructure from South Africa's Eastern Cape region to global markets, including the UK, Europe, and Japan. The project delivered by the consortium will be working with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) of South Africa in support of South Africa’s wider development and just energy transition plans.

The consortium comprises several industry leaders and experts in the energy transition, including University College London, DNV, National Gas, University of Kent, and the Thames Estuary Growth Board. The consortium is also supported by key delivery partners, including Hive Energy, the Nedbank Group, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, and Advantage Partners, who will provide fund management services to the Japan Hydrogen Association’s new fund dedicated to hydrogen related investments.

Green hydrogen, produced through electrolysis using renewable energy sources, offers a clean and versatile alternative to conventional fossil fuels. The feasibility study will evaluate the potential for establishing green hydrogen production facilities in South Africa's Eastern Cape region and developing the necessary infrastructure for export, including port facilities and transportation networks. Stakeholder engagement will be integral to the process, to ensure alignment with local communities, government agencies, and industry partners.

The export focus of the project is key not only to maximise the valorisation of abundant renewable energy resources in the Eastern Cape and surrounding provinces, but also to provide a diversification of revenue streams via the sale of green hydrogen and green ammonia to international markets, which is critical to ensure the bankability and ultimately the delivery of the overall project.

By fostering innovation, job creation, community participation and sustainable development, the project aims to contribute to a greener, more resilient future for South Africa and beyond.

Professor Sibongile Muthwa, Vice Chancellor at Nelson Mandela University stated that "South Africa generally and the Province of the Eastern Cape in particular experience high levels of poverty, inequality, and unemployment. South Africa is committed to deliver economic growth through a just transition from, inter alia, dependence on fossil fuel-based energy production. This feasibility study aims to inform strategic decisions for the production and export of green hydrogen from the Eastern Cape, potentially reshaping South Africa's economy for inclusive growth.”

Ms Helena Anderson, Co-Founder & COO at Ikigai commented that: “The missing links in hydrogen moving from an inter-regional to an inter-national commodity are import and export ports receiving, converting, and onwards distributing infrastructure and the hydrogen carriers from a HSE and total lifecycle cost perspective. This green hydrogen corridor project is looking at all these aspects. It's focusing on a large-scale green hydrogen project in South Africa, comparing it with ammonia as a counterfactual carrier, and exploring how we can deliver hydrogen to places like Japan, Europe, and the UK. The goal is to show that exporting hydrogen can also boost local demand.”

Mr Antony Phillipson, British High Commissioner to South Africa stated: “I am delighted to see the launch of this exciting new project under the South Africa-UK PACT Country Fund. This project strengthens the UK’s support to South Africa as part of the Just Energy Transition Partnership. We are excited by the potential impact of the outputs of this study, which will play a key role in accelerating efforts to advance the green hydrogen export agenda in the Eastern Cape and the green hydrogen economy across the country.”

Ms Catherine Koffman, Group Executive: Project Preparation at the Development Bank of Southern Africa confirmed that “The funding for the study demonstrates the catalytic impact of collaboration between private sector and development capital. The partnership will facilitate the creation of a new asset class in the energy sector with a profound and positive economic, social, and environmental impact in the province and the country. This feasibility study will also, through import and export infrastructure assessments, address regional integration of sustainable green hydrogen projects and contribute to Africa’s prosperity.”


Nelson Mandela University

Nelson Mandela University uniquely carries the name of one of the most revered political leaders of our time, the late Dr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

We are inspired to emulate his values to create a socially just and democratic society.

The University is widely recognised for its innovative and engaged scholarship, which seeks to respond to a broad spectrum of government, industry, and societal needs in collaboration with stakeholders.

Mandela University’s research endeavours seek to better understand humanity and our planet, with the aim of achieving a healthier, more sustainable, better future for all.

Our scholarship and engagement aim to reduce inequality and break the grip of intergenerational poverty, through adopting a transdisciplinary lens where we join up the insights and initiatives of all the different disciplines - the arts and the sciences.


Ikigai Group

Ikigai is a boutique consultancy firm, focused on making Net Zero investable for real estate and core infrastructure owners.

We do this through collaboration with, and generating value for, the key stakeholders in delivering the energy transition - investors, energy users, Government, and innovators.

Our purpose is to, together with our clients and partners, deliver the energy transition while reducing costs, diversifying revenues, and improving profitability and resilience.


The Development Bank of Southern Africa

The Development Bank of Southern Africa is one of the leading development financial institutions on the continent. Our primary purpose is delivering impactful development finance solutions that ignite transformative change in South Africa and on the rest of the African continent. Improving the quality of life of people in Africa is the fundamental focus of our development impact. We aim to bend the arc of history towards shared prosperity through multifaceted investments in sustainable infrastructure and human capacity.

Our product solutions span all phases of the infrastructure development value chain from infrastructure planning and project preparation, across range of financing and non-financing investments to infrastructure implementation and delivery. Our primary areas of focus include Energy, ICT, Transport, Water and Sanitation. Our secondary area of focus are Education, Housing and Health.


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