South Africa Science Minister Upbeat About Future Hydrogen Economy

Minister of Science and Technology Mosibudi Mangena sees the future of South Africa's energy not in oil or gas but in hydrogen and fuel cells

Published: 24-May-2005

future of South Africa's energy lies not in oil or gas but in hydrogen and fuel cells, Minister of Science and Technology Mosibudi Mangena said on Tuesday.

Addressing local and international guests at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Pretoria, he said hydrogen and fuel cells are globally believed to be the energy solution for the 21st century by enabling clean, efficient production of power and heat.

"Today is the opening of possibilities of the future hydrogen economy for South Africa," he said. "We realise that this journey will not be easy because as a country we are faced with overwhelming socio-economic challenges."

Mangena, speaking at the Hydrogen Economy and Fuel Cells Indaba, said the global competitiveness of a country is closely linked to research, development and innovation.

"My department has identified the hydrogen economy and related fuel-cell technologies to potentially change the innovation course of the country's natural resources, and yield multiple social and economic benefits," he said.

"The transition to hydrogen is expected to greatly reduce dependency on oil and gas, and reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, especially when used in efficient fuel cells."

Mangena said platinum plays a crucial role in converting hydrogen to electricity and creating fuel cells, and that local researchers have started investigating the technologies.

The challenge facing the country, Mangena said, is a lack of transformation of research into commercial products, services and the creation of new industries.

"The global energy industry is the biggest business in the world, with an annual turnover of over $1,7-trillion," he said. "But only two-thirds of South Africans have access to electricity, and only about 10% of sub-Saharan Africans have access to clean, reliable energy sources.

"Let us work hard to make our journey a success," he said. "This will not only add value to our economy, but will also benefit our people in the long term." -- Sapa

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