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FIRST HYDROGEN PILOT LAUNCHED IN SOUTH AFRICA

Anglo American Platinum, BMW Group South Africa and Sasol launched the first trial of a pilot fleet of BMW iX5 Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles in South Africa. 

On signing the collaboration agreement in October 2023 at the South African Green Hydrogen Summit, the companies agreed to a cross-industry alliance to drive forward the green hydrogen economy by actively demonstrating value chains and projects, moving from industrial policy to real-world applications. The green hydrogen economy is rapidly rising to the forefront of global sustainability and energy security initiatives.

The public road vehicle trial was announced on the sidelines of the Hydrogen Council’s Regional Meeting held for the first time in Africa on 12 and 13 February 2024. Regarding the collaboration, the companies each provide a unique part of the value chain to demonstrate their capabilities in this rapidly emerging new economy.

COOPERATION IS KEY

With the BMW iX5 Hydrogen, the BMW Group has introduced the world’s most powerful passenger hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV). The small series fleet is being used around the world to gain valuable insights into the operation of hydrogen FCEVs and customer experience.

Peter van Binsbergen, CEO of BMW Group South Africa, said at the Hydrogen Council’s Regional Meeting and the launch of the BMW iX5 Hydrogen pilot fleet in South Africa that “collaboration across industries would be key to unlocking the huge potential of green hydrogen as a critical technology in the decarbonisation challenge.”

Van Binsbergen continued: “This is why we have partnered with Anglo American Platinum and Sasol to bring the BMW iX5 Hydrogen fleet to South Africa. We see hydrogen as the ‘missing piece’ of the energy transition puzzle and, in the transport sector, it has the potential to become another pillar in the BMW Group’s drivetrain portfolio for local CO2-free mobility, alongside our established battery-electric mobility option.”

Dr Juergen Guldner, BMW Group General Program Manager Hydrogen, said: “After four years of development, the pilot fleet of BMW iX5 Hydrogen started its world tour in Antwerp, Belgium in 2023. Since then, we have showcased and tested these prototypes all over the world and see hydrogen cars as a good complement to our successful battery electric vehicles, not a competition between the two technologies. Since hydrogen cars combine the advantages of electric driving with the possibility to refuel quickly, they would be ideal for customers who travel a lot or do not have electric charging at home or work.”

Prakashim Moodliar, Head of Projects at Anglo American Platinum, said: “As Anglo American Platinum, we believe partnerships are key to creating a local, sustainable hydrogen economy. Our Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) will strategically enable a new industrial sector in the country and globally. In 2023, we announced our partnership with BMW Group South Africa and Sasol to bring green mobility to SA. This week’s engagements represent a clear and continued demonstration of a green mobility ecosystem in action, which showcases the most powerful passenger fuel cell electric vehicle. The future is hydrogen.”

Dries Swanepoel, Principal Specialist Market Development at Sasol’s Low Carbon Energy Solutions business, said: “Sasol is very excited about our partnership with Anglo American Platinum and BMW Group South Africa to develop a local green economy. BMW’s iX5 hydrogen-fuelled with Sasol’s hydrogen dispensed using Air Products technology is a powerful expression of thought leadership and innovation in action. 

LAST WORD

Together, Anglo American Platinum, BMW Group South Africa, and Sasol are making strides towards introducing the concept of hydrogen mobility in South Africa and building the ecosystem of partners needed to do this. The central tenet to these strategic partnerships, proof-of-concept demonstrations and pilot projects is collaboration, and their joint effort is a testament to what can be accomplished when diverse sectors come together to address one of the world’s most pressing sustainable mobility challenges.

Report by BERNIE HELLBERG JR | Images © BMW SOUTH AFRICA

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