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AfrElec: Engie, Scatec to produce green hydrogen in South Africa

France’s Engie has signed a contract with Release by Scatec, a subsidiary of Norwegian independent power producer (IPP) Scatec, to produce green hydrogen for the Mogalakwena platinum mine in Limpopo Province of South Africa.

The two partners aim to be the first to begin commercial production of green hydrogen in Africa.

Engie has already signed an agreement with UK miner Anglo American to produce green hydrogen at the Mogalakwena mine.

Release by Scatec is to provide modular solar power generation solutions for the project for an initial two years. The containerised technology installed at the Mogalakwena mine will offer 616 kW of solar capacity.

“We are proud to support Engie and Anglo American in this important project. This is Scatec’s first involvement in powering hydrogen production, and further demonstrates the potential of pre-assembled and containerised solar PV in the mining industry,” says Hans Olav Kvalvaag, senior vice-president Release at Scatec. The electricity generated will be converted via electrification into green hydrogen to power Anglo American’s facilities.

Research and development of green hydrogen production is gaining momentum in South Africa, and elsewhere in Africa, with projects brought in by major groups such as Siemens, Man and Eni in Egypt.

In South Africa, green hydrogen is also being developed by Sasol. The chemical giant wants to set up green hydrogen transport solutions.

A recent study from IHS Markit found that South Africa was well-placed to pursue a national strategy based on low-carbon hydrogen.

It could offer South Africa a "win-win" for the government’s employment and decarbonisation goals, as the country can use its wind and sun resources to produce low-carbon hydrogen for export and for use in the domestic economy.

The study finds that hydrogen production could reach 3.8mn tonnes per year (by 2050, but only with a supportive commercial and policy environment. By starting soon, production could reach 0.75mn tpy by 2030.

By 2050, 2mn tpy would be for domestic consumption, equal to 6-8% of final energy demand.

Scatec currently operates 1,574 MW of solar capacity worldwide, alongside 1,422 MW of hydro and 39 MW of wind. It also has 320 MW of solar under construction and a project pipeline of 670 MW of solar in development.

Scatec bought Norway’s SN Power in 2020, giving it access to a project pipeline totalling gross 2.5 GW mainly across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.