South Africa can become world leader in zero-carbon shipping fuels: Study

South Africa has abundant natural resources and is situated on one of the busiest international sea routes 

By Madhumita Paul
Published: Tuesday 29 June 2021

South Africa can lead in the production of zero-carbon shipping fuels because of its abundant natural resources, geography and prominence on important shipping trade routes, according to a recent report.

The country’s zero-carbon fuels infrastructure in the shipping sector can attract 122-175 billion Rand in investment in onshore infrastructure by 2030, the report said.

Green fuels derived from hydrogen can help South Africa meet its decarbonisation targets and open up new export markets as well as create the jobs, according to the paper. The study was done by global environmental consultancy Ricardo and Environmental Defense Fund. 

The report identified green hydrogen and green ammonia as the most suitable options for large commercial vessels, while South Africa’s small domestic vessels could be supplied through direct electrification using onboard batteries and motors.

South Africa is situated on one of the busiest international sea routes — a passing point between Asia and South America and Europe and strong trade links with China, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and India.

Vessels adopting zero-carbon fuels bunkering technology in ports around the world must have the opportunity to refuel along their journey, according to the research. South Africa is in a position to become a zero-carbon bunkering hub for the significant vessel traffic passing through its waters and export zero-carbon fuels, it added.

The ports of Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape province, Port of Ngqura in the Eastern Cape province and Richards Bay in Kwazulu-Natal province, as great examples of points South African can capitalize on.

Adopting zero-carbon shipping fuels is also in line with South Africa’s commitment to reach net zero carbon by 2050, said the report. The availability of zero carbon fuels can be used to decarbonise other sectors, such as heavy transport, mining, agriculture, manufacturing and industry.

This has significant potential in South Africa, with projects already investigating decarbonising heavy mining trucks and land freight.

The report South Africa: Fuelling the future of shipping was issued on behalf of P4G Getting to Zero Coalition Partnership. P4G is a global delivery mechanism pioneering green partnerships to build sustainable and resilient economies.

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