The one thing you have to acknowledge about the ANC is that they dream big. Who can forget Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula’s idea of a high-speed railway linking Joburg and Durban? Or President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plan to transform Lanseria airport and environs into our first “smart city”?
It was easy, therefore, to dismiss Ramaphosa’s words yesterday – about the vision of “green hydrogen” as a tool to transform the country into a high-tech paradise – as mere hot air. Indeed, if words and promises were energy, then we would be flying by now as a country, because the ANC has these in endless, renewable, supply.
Green hydrogen is produced by splitting water into its components, hydrogen and oxygen, by using only renewable power sources.
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The fuel can be used in engines which previously burned fossil fuel, with zero carbon dioxide emissions. Ramaphosa sketched a picture of a massive renewable energy project to be established in the Northern Cape, with its abundant sunlight and wind energy, to provide the capacity needed for the green hydrogen project.
This would produce 80 gigawatts of renewable energy – almost double the current installed electricity generation capacity.
Go big or go home
So, go big or go home… We do hope that it is not the latter, because the costs of such projects – even with foreign aid and grants – will be gigantic.
And, as we all know, the ANC comrades love gigantic projects, with the propensity they have for all sorts of “sweeteners” to fall off the back of the bus.
How the ANC is going to push such a “green” project through, in the face of strenuous opposition of its own fossil fuel advocates, led by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, remains to be seen.
Still, as we huddle around our candles in the darkness of load shedding, there is still the “green dream” to comfort us.
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