Photo by Bloomberg
Platinum-using hydrogen fuel cell.

CRA Innovation & Technology – South Africa

BY: MARTIN CREAMER

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Hydrogen and the applications that it can enable are gaining increasing levels of interest and traction, says AP Ventures LLP.

“We’re very optimistic about the role that fuel cells and hydrogen will play in decarbonising key sectors of the economy,” says AP Ventures in a written response to Mining Weekly.

The cornerstone investors of AP Ventures – whose funds are invested in pioneering technologies and businesses that harness the chemical and physical properties of platinum group metals (PGMs) to solve global challenges ­– are PGMs mining company Anglo American Platinum and Africa’s largest asset manager, the Public Investment Corporation.

“Hydrogen and fuel cells are both well established in many industrial applications, such as energy storage and mobility, and are fast-growing and developing technologies.

“We believe they have the potential to provide an attractive financial return and have a very tangible impact on developed and developing economies,” the investment firm says.

Across the globe it has witnessed a heightened awareness and demand for a cleaner environment, reduced carbon dioxide production and an acceleration towards a sustainable energy future.

“It’s clear to us at AP Ventures that hydrogen has an important role to play in this, and we have witnessed a growing momentum for hydrogen and new hydrogen technologies in being able to facilitate this transition to a more sustainable energy economy,” the firm says.

“We’re seeing a marked expansion of the number of enquiries about opportunities to invest in novel hydrogen technologies and there is progressively more interest from governments around the role of hydrogen.

“As a result, we are becoming increasingly confident, firstly of hydrogen’s role today in decarbonisation, secondly in the role of hydrogen in facilitating a carbon-neutral future, and thirdly, of the role that AP Ventures can play in this energy transition,” it adds.

In the next ten and 20 years, it expects the cost of low-cost, low-carbon hydrogen will be key to unlocking the wider hydrogen economy.

Analysis by the Hydrogen Council – a top-level organisation launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2017 in recognition of growing global interest in hydrogen – shows that by 2030, hydrogen production costs of $2.5/kg could competitively unlock 8% of global energy demand and that a cost of $1.80/kg H2 could unlock 15%.

The investment firm sees hydrogen is an attractive low-carbon energy vector across many different industries requiring sustainable energy, green transportation, clean infrastructure, energy storage, fuel cell electric vehicles and distributed power generation.

On hydrogen fuel cells being used to power mining equipment, AP Ventures says hydrogen fuel cell mining trucks are highly compelling as they help enable bringing low-carbon to zero-carbon resources to market.

Anglo American recently approved a significant investment at one of its mines to install solar panels, use excess power to generate green hydrogen, trial a fuel cell electric mining truck, and build supporting on-site hydrogen storage and refuelling infrastructure. Testing will take place later this year at the Mogalakwena PGMs mine in Limpopo. The project also has the potential to be expanded to other on-site trucks if the trial is successful.

German Professor Robert Schlögl and Federation of German Industries executive Holger Lösch were quoted in last weekend’s German Handelsblatt as saying that hydrogen was the perfect partner to renewable energy, which it rendered storable, transportable, tradable and useable in all sectors.

In South Africa, Enertrag, a German clean-energy company that specialises in electricity and hydrogen from renewable sources, is active; Hydrox Holdings of Randburg has shot the lights out with an innovative, patented and trade-marked local electrolyser technology that generates significant cost savings; local mining companies are showing a keen interest in the cleaner hydrogen fuel-cell-based ventilation systems for underground mines that Hydrogen Infrastructure South Africa is offering; and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research reports that hydrogen is emerging globally as an environment-friendly energy carrier.

Credit to Mining Weekly.