ArcelorMittal partners with S Africa’s Sasol to boost hydrogen economy

A partnership between ArcelorMittal SA (AMSA) and South African petrochemical giant Sasol to develop a green hydrogen hub in Saldanha Bay is set to provide a huge boost to the country’s hydrogen economy.

Saldanha Bay on South Africa’s west coast is the largest natural harbor on the African continent.

The city suffered a severe economic hit when AMSA closed its steel plant there in 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Global steel magnate Laxmi Mittal acquired AMSA after first helping ailing state steelmaker Iscor turn its fortunes in 2004.

Now, AMSA plans to become the first African flat steel producer to use green hydrogen at its Saldanha Bay plant, while reducing its carbon footprint at its flagship steel mill in Vanderbijlpark.

Established in the apartheid era to make fuel from coal when the white minority government faced global sanctions, Sasol has grown into a global player in the petrochemical industry.

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The two companies will jointly conduct studies to explore the region’s potential as an export hub for green hydrogen and derivatives, as well as the production of green steel.

Also being explored is the possibility of using renewable electricity and green hydrogen to convert captured carbon from AMSA’s Vanderbijlpark steelworks into sustainable fuels and chemicals.

AMSA CEO Kobus Verster expressed optimism that the venture is the start of the company’s decarbonization journey.

“By maximizing the use of our installed assets, we will also spur economic growth in our host communities,” Verster said at the signing of the joint development agreement on the sidelines of the Africa Energy conference in Cape Town this week.

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Priscillah Mabelane, Sasol’s executive vice president of energy business, said the projects “promise to unlock South Africa’s potential to become a global player in green hydrogen and derivatives”. The project was also welcomed by the government.

“This is an exciting, bold new venture which the Western Cape Provincial Government believes will be an important component in our quest for green energy,” said Western Cape Premier Alan Winde.

“The fact that the agreement includes a project at Saldanha Bay, which is well positioned for the development of GH2, has tremendous potential for a number of reasons, namely to help pull the country out of this energy disaster and create more jobs in critical areas that need to be fully utilized,” added Winde.

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Winde was referring to the crisis, which has seen the whole country face daily load shedding for up to three sessions a day as state-owned electricity utility Eskom fails to meet its obligations amid power outages and huge debt.

Freeport Saldanha CEO Kaashifah Beukes said Saldanha Bay is a strong strategic fit with Sasol’s ambitions to be a leading driver and contributor to the development of the green hydrogen economy in South Africa.

“In addition, Freeport Saldanha is a strategic partner for SASOL and AMSA, adding value to exploration of new markets by bringing together multiple stakeholders to drive catalytic investments in sustainable industrialization and product streams,” said Beukes.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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