BWM and Sasol want to build South Africa’s fuel-cell system

BMW, in collaboration with Anglo-American Platinum and Sasol, is set to introduce a green hydrogen-powered electric car in South Africa, offering a vehicle with some of the advantages of traditional petrol- or diesel-powered cars. This partnership is significant as South Africa boasts immense potential in the green hydrogen sector due to its abundance of platinum group metals (PGMs), with approximately 80% of the world’s PGMs and 40% of platinum and palladium supplies.

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These PGMs are integral components in the production of green hydrogen. The initiative has also attracted private sector engagement, as the collaboration was formalized during the Green Hydrogen Summit in Cape Town. The objective is to introduce hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and hydrogen refuelling technology in South Africa.

In line with the agreement, Sasol will be responsible for the supply of green hydrogen and the mobile refueler, while BMW will provide the hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, specifically the BMW iX5 Hydrogen. These vehicles will undergo trials on South African roads to assess their real-world performance.

Anglo-American Platinum, a supplier of PGMs used in FCEVs, will work alongside BMW and Sasol to establish a logistics system for the local green hydrogen market.

The green hydrogen market’s growth aligns with the South African government’s strategy for a green hydrogen economy. This strategy aims to stimulate investment, reduce carbon emissions, and drive demand for PGMs.

During the Green Hydrogen Summit, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa emphasized that the green hydrogen industry could create around 370,000 jobs, addressing an urgent need, and reduce the country’s emissions by 10% to 15%.

Priscillah Mabelane, Sasol’s Executive Vice President for the Energy Business, noted that the company produced its first green hydrogen at its Sasolburg facility in June of this year and expects to scale up production in 2024 when its 69 MW wind farm in the Eastern Cape becomes operational.

Peter van Binsbergen, CEO of BMW Group South Africa, highlighted the pivotal role that hydrogen, as a versatile energy source, plays in achieving climate neutrality. He expressed confidence in South Africa’s potential to fulfil the promises of the Green Hydrogen Economy, thanks to its abundant raw materials and robust infrastructure.

Craig Miller, CEO of Anglo-American Platinum, explained the benefits of FCEVs, emphasizing their short refuelling times, long ranges like traditional vehicles, and the added advantage of zero emissions.

While this collaboration is poised to make significant strides, South African consumers may have to wait until the second half of the decade, depending on market conditions and requirements, to purchase the BMW iX5 Hydrogen.