Sasol & Toyota to Build Hydrogen Mobility Corridor in South Africa

At the ‘2nd Renewable Hydrogen and Green Powerfuels Webinar for South Africa’ organised recently, Sasol and Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) announced that they have teamed up to build a hydrogen mobility corridor on a key South African freight route. The project will not only help South African fuel giant Sasol in reducing its own emissions, but also enable Japanese automotive manufacturer Toyota to capitalise on the world’s growing acceptance of and demand for hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.

The event was organised by EE Business Intelligence and the British High Commission to South Africa, and the announcement was made by Sasol CEO Fleetwood Grobler. The company is a huge emitter of greenhouse gases and is working to cut down emissions from its operations by a minimum of 10% by 2030, as compared to its 2017 levels, thereby helping the country achieve its commitments to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and transition to a green hydrogen economy.

Additionally, the firm is part of a record procurement of renewable energy and is also exploring clean aviation fuel production. Fleetwood said, “Sasol feels this is the right time to tap into hydrogen potential to realise clean and affordable energy.” Through developing hydrogen mobility, those sectors which rely on heavy-duty and long-haul transport and mining, can be decarbonised. The project under consideration will develop a mobility corridor, the demonstration of which will later be expanded to a pilot project, for a carbon-heavy area – the N3 route between the coastal city of Durban, which receives most of the country’s imports in containers, to the economic hub of Johannesburg. Building a sustainable mobility solution such as this will require the installation of a hydrogen ecosystem- i.e. refuelling and charging infrastructure for hydrogen-electric vehicles- by Sasol, which has many filling stations along the route.

Since fuel cell trucks, considered ideal for this project by the organisers, are unavailable in South Africa, a prototype of the same is being developed in Japan at present, while the South African branch of Toyota has already initiated negotiations with its parent company to import one to the country upon their becoming available.

Andrew Kirby, President and CEO of TSAM, also present at the event, believes that the partnership with Sasol will encourage other companies to become involved in the hydrogen mobility value chain, and said, “We are excited about the partnership with Sasol, which we hope will assist in scaling up investment in critical infrastructure such as charging stations and the fuel itself.” He added that in 2014, the manufacturer introduced the Mirai- the world’s first commercialised hydrogen fuel cell electric sedan. Toyota plans to pilot three fuel cell electric vehicles in South Africa, targeting them at the passenger market, the bus and heavy-duty truck market.

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Soumya Duggal

Soumya is a master's degree holder in English, with a passion for writing. It's an interest she has directed towards environmental writing recently, with a special emphasis on the progress being made in renewable energy.

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