HomeIndustry SectorsBusiness and marketsSasol and Toyota South Africa announce green hydrogen mobility plans

Sasol and Toyota South Africa announce green hydrogen mobility plans

Sasol and Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) have announced the formation of a partnership to commence exploration of the development of a green hydrogen mobility ecosystem in South Africa. 

Sasol and TSAM will jointly pursue the development of a proof-of-concept demonstration for a green hydrogen mobility ecosystem. The parties intend to develop a mobility corridor and expand the demonstration to a pilot project using one of South Africa’s main freight corridors, such as the N3 route between Durban and Johannesburg, for hydrogen-powered heavy-duty long-haul trucks. 

To initiate the project, the parties have determined that it would be appropriate to pursue the introduction of FC trucks into South Africa. This supports the available research on FC technology where it is shown that long-distance mobility is better suited to FC technology compared to battery-electric trucks.

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In this regard, there is no current Toyota FC truck available to introduce into South Africa, as this is currently in prototype development in Japan. TSAM has therefore commenced the investigation of introducing the FC truck to South Africa as soon as available from its principals in Japan.

In addition, the parties are evaluating the installation of a hydrogen refuelling station for the demonstration project. TSAM will lead the investigation of the FC truck introduction, with Sasol supporting in providing the required infrastructure expertise.

Sasol and TSAM partnership

Underpinning the partnership is Sasol’s broad experience in the production, use and marketing of grey hydrogen and aspiration to play a leading role in the establishment of a green hydrogen economy for South Africa, combined with Toyota being a leading global supplier of zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell (FC) vehicles.
An enabler for this strategic intent is the expansion of the partnership between Sasol and TSAM to include other companies and stakeholders along the hydrogen mobility value chain. This is to allow the industry to gain valuable first-hand knowledge of hydrogen refuelling stations, the introduction of hydrogen into the heavy-duty truck supply chains and the commercial drivers underpinning the hydrogen mobility value chain.
Fleetwood Grobler, Sasol President and CEO, commented: “To unlock green hydrogen opportunities, we are pursuing various demonstration opportunities and partnerships, as with Toyota, with the intent of enabling and taking advantage of technology developments and breakthroughs.”
He continued: “Hydrogen and electric vehicles with refuelling and charging infrastructure form part of this sustainable future.  We believe hydrogen mobility is a real opportunity for the country to decarbonise the sectors of long-haul and heavy-duty transport, mining and others and see the creation of hydrogen hubs, or ecosystems, as a practical and affordable way to scale the deployment of hydrogen in the transport sector.”
“Our partnership with Toyota, which will include other partners over time, aims to build a sustainable end-to-end infrastructure for hydrogen mobility, initially focused on piloting the concept,” said Grobler.
Toyota has defined aspirations towards 2050 by way of six challenges, each of which is accompanied by globally committed stringent goals. The company’s biggest contributor to the realisation of the 2050 challenge is expected to come from diversification of and positioning the ideal mix of new energy vehicles powertrains.

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Andrew Kirby, President and CEO of Toyota South Africa Motors, also commented: “We are therefore pleased to hear of Sasol’s aspirations and commitment to green hydrogen, as this fits in with Toyota’s global agenda towards a cleaner and greener future. It also made sense to partner with Sasol, given its commitment to developing hydrogen mobility infrastructure in South Africa, which is a much-needed enabler to introduce hydrogen products to the country.

“Toyota envisages this partnership will also create the environment for others to get involved in the hydrogen mobility value chain thereby making sustainable contributions to the South African economy.

“Toyota has been at the forefront of hydrogen technology innovation, having introduced the Mirai, the world’s first commercialised hydrogen fuel cell electric sedan, in 2014. Our development of hydrogen fuel cells commenced in 1992 and has evolved to offer our system the flexibility to be used not only in cars, but to also produce zero-emission power in multiple applications – including trucks, urban bus fleets, forklifts and generators.
“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.”

Potential of green hydrogen

On the potential for green hydrogen, Grobler said: “Green hydrogen can help tackle various critical energy challenges, and is positioned for rapid global growth as the pathway of choice to decarbonise sectors such long-haul transport, chemicals, and iron and steel, where it is proving difficult to meaningfully reduce carbon emissions.” 
He added that South Africa is endowed with exceptional renewable energy resources making the country ideal for green hydrogen production, which has the potential to contribute to energy security and trade for South Africa, while facilitating a just energy transition to a lower-carbon economy.
“Given Sasol’s broad experience in hydrogen and R&D capabilities, combined with our Fischer-Tropsch and catalyst technologies to enable the production of sustainable synthetic fuels and chemicals, we are uniquely placed to play a leading role in the development of South Africa’s hydrogen economy and just energy transition.
“The new hydrogen economy will be enabled by co-creating hydrogen ecosystems developed through partnerships. The creation of value chain partnerships will be critical to enable South Africa to be globally competitive in the green hydrogen markets.
“Through these partnerships, the country needs to build capacity in key elements of the green hydrogen value chain such as renewable energy, electrolyser technology, fuel cell technology, manufacturing, hydrogen-based industrial processes, and sustainable carbon sourcing,” concluded Grobler.

Nomvuyo Tena
Nomvuyo Tena is a Content Producer at Clarion Events Africa and is as passionate about the energy transition in Africa as she is about music and Beyonce.