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Study shows South Africa is well placed to lead the production of zero carbon bunker fuels

25 Jun 2021

A study by Ricardo and Environmental Defense Fund for the P4G Getting to Zero Coalition Partnership finds that South Africa holds an untapped opportunity to supply the global shipping industry with zero carbon bunker fuels, according to the Global Maritime Forum on Thursday (24 June).

The production of green hydrogen-derived fuels can help to meet decarbonisation targets and act as a catalyst for the country’s economy – opening new export markets, supporting an equitable transition, and creating the jobs of the future.

The study explores the economic and environmental potential for the implementation of zero carbon shipping fuels through the shipping sector of South Africa. South Africa has vast renewable energy sources, and the country has committed to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

“Our study shows that South Africa has an abundance of renewable energy potential. It is enough to supply the country’s domestic electrical demand as well as the production of zero carbon fuels to supply commercial vessels refuelling in its international ports,” says Aoife O’Leary, Director, International Climate, Environmental Defense Fund.

“The adoption of zero carbon propulsion technologies at South Africa’s ports could attract investment of between 122 and 175 billion Rand in onshore infrastructure by 2030. All that is needed to unlock this investment are the right policy incentives set at the International Maritime Organization.”

The report finds that South Africa’s geographical location and economic development make it particularly well suited to distribute zero carbon fuels for the South African shipping sector, and export to international markets.

“South Africa has the opportunity feed into the growing global demand for decarbonized materials, products and services by offering bunkering capability for zero carbon fuels to vessels of all types,” states Olivia Carpenter-Lomax, future energy specialist and project lead, Ricardo.

“With access to busy shipping routes, abundant renewable energy potential, and experience handling these and other fuels, South Africa is in a great position to produce the shipping fuels of the future, access a growing global market, and thus catalyze a new low carbon economy.”

Several zero carbon fuels can potentially be used in shipping. The abundance of renewable energy resource in South Africa means that shipping fuels can be derived from renewable electricity generation.

It highlights the ports of Saldanha Bay, Ngqura (Coega) and Richards Bay as great examples of how South African can capitalize on a zero carbon fuel transition due to established shipping routes and significant port export hubs.

“Zero carbon shipping presents South Africa with the opportunity to usher in ‘a new economy in a new global reality’, to quote President Ramaphosa in our national Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan,” says Kaashifah Beukes, Chief Executive Officer, Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone.

“For this, the SBIDZ supports this research in its efforts to stimulate solutions and investment into a global megatrend that is becoming the agenda of our time. It will require sustainable capital investment into new technologies, new vessel designs, new landside infrastructure and a shake-up of the services and logistics sub-sectors.

“This is exactly the work the SBIDZ is vested in as a catalyst for economic growth and transformation, and the unique potential of the Port of Saldanha Bay as the first Freeport in South Africa.”

Note: Download the full report South Africa: fuelling the future of shipping – South Africa’s role in the transformation of global shipping through green hydrogen-derived fuels here.


Photo credit: South Africa: fuelling the future of shipping
Published: 25 June, 2021

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