In line with eThekwini Municipality’s continued efforts to explore the hydrogen economy in South Africa, eThekwini Mayor Councillor Mxolisi Kaunda launched the eThekwini Regional Hydrogen Strategy during the eThekwini Energy Transformation Summit.

The summit took place at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre on 1 and 2 March. EThekwini is the first city in South Africa to develop a world-class Hydrogen Strategy. The strategy outlines the exciting potential that lies in building a future hydrogen economy that can deliver, beyond clean energy and fuels, a holistic city resilience built on circular economy principles. Mayor Kaunda said the Municipality has already identified three hydrogen hubs (namely Durban Port, Richards Bay, and Cato Ridge Dry Port).

Each hub serves to meet the demand and supply of conventional fuels. “The supply chain infrastructure for hydrogen projects already exists in Durban and Richards Bay however, more repurposing must happen to ensure projects reach commercial operation. Low carbon hydrogen is catalytic for the transformation of eThekwini’s energy landscape by reducing heavy dependence on domestically produced and imported fossil fuels, in exchange for reliance on domestically sourced renewable energy and a circular economy,” said Mayor Kaunda.

He said this document won’t gather dust on the shelves of City Hall but is a practical strategy derived from circular economy approaches to outline supply chain infrastructure projects in the hydrogen economy.

“Our regional Hydrogen Strategy could unlock $23 billion (R421 billion) of private investment in the long term. Approximately $10 billion (R199.5 billion) is estimated for infrastructure investment by 2030. Up to 260 000 construction jobs and 11 000 permanent jobs could be created by 2030.

By 2050, the hydrogen economy could create approximately 392 786 construction jobs and 24 671 permanent jobs in the eThekwini and Richards Bay regions,” he added.

Mayor Kaunda told delegates that the City welcomes the interventions by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, the Central Energy Fund, and the province’s turnaround plan to repurpose the SAPREF refinery. He urged investors to work with the government to restructure the gas industry in the province and that the turnaround plan would require all stakeholders to assess the possibility of stranded assets and job losses in the south of Durban.

The summit was hosted by the City’s Energy Office and is the first of its kind in South Africa.

It was hosted under the theme ‘Building Energy Security Today’ and aimed to increase market appetite for the private sector to deal with the current power crisis in search for sustainable alternative energy.

The summit was built against the backdrop of South Africa’s increasing energy constraints. Various stakeholders from the private sector also posed questions to a panel of Municipal staff from the Economic Development Unit, the Office of Strategic Management, and the Chief Financial Officer that will be integral to the implementation of the Municipal Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.

This forms part of eThekwini’s reform strategy to revive energy security in the City.

The City is also looking at using solar and hydrogen as part of the energy mix that will lessen the dependence on the national power grid.

(EXTRACTED FROM EThekwini_Weekly Bulletin Issue 319 – PAGE 1)

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