The University of Stellenbosch – located in South Africa’s Western Cape Province – has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Teesside University in England to develop a green hydrogen sector and implement research activities to assist South Africa in technology localization and industrialization using its hydrogen economy.
The signing ceremony was attended by Professor Sampson Mampwheli, who represented Stellenbosch University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies, Professor Sibusiso Moyo; Hon. Dr. Blade Mzimande, South Africa’s Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology; Professor Steve Cummings, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, who represented Teesside University; and other dignitaries from South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation.
“The main focus is the production of green hydrogen,” stated Professor Mampwheli, Director of the Center for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies at Stellenbosch University, adding that, “The research activities will include amongst other areas, hydrogen production technologies, hydrogen conversion technologies such as fuel cells and gas turbines, techno-economic analysis of hydrogen projects such as the production of hydrogen for the export market. More focus will be on the activities around the hydrogen valley as proposed in the Hydrogen Society Roadmap approved by the Cabinet earlier this year.”
Under the MoU, the Governments of South Africa and the UK will make available the resources necessary to ensure that the operationalization of hydrogen technology localization falls in line with South Africa’s Hydrogen Society Roadmap, the country’s strategy to develop and integrate hydrogen-related technologies into its economy, with the UK having pledged financial support through grant funding during South Africa’s President, H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa’s, state visit to Britain in November 2022.
“Through its Center for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies, Stellenbosch University boasts an impressive history of research in renewable energy. Research on green hydrogen will complement existing research on solar and wind energy – among others,” stated Professor Moyo.
The MoU signed between the Universities of Stellenbosch and Teesside serves as part of South Africa’s Just Energy Transition Partnership with the UK, U.S., Germany, France and the EU, a partnership that has pledged $8.5 billion to support the decarbonization of South Africa’s economy, and which will involve knowledge sharing and the exchange of best practices.
Meanwhile, Stellenbosch University has allocated $695,000 over the next three years to the university’s Faculty of Engineering for research and to establish expertise in the field. The funding will be directed towards the employment of a part-time director, program manager, up to four postdoctoral fellows, and will contribute towards funding student and staff research projects.
The research will focus on new technology development, such as photocatalytic production and hydrogen storage; technology intelligence and systems engineering, that will focus on the availability of hydrogen technology in the Southern African region; and technology demonstration and deployment for technologies to be implemented in the field.