South Africa may become the world’s leading producer of hydrogen powered vehicles, according to Professor Vladimir Linkov of the University of the Western Cape. Speaking at the launch conference of the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection, Linkov said that the hydrogen economy presents a opportunity for massive economic growth. As the demand for alternative fuels grows, countries investing in the development of hydrogen fuel cells are likely to experience the same opportunity.
“There is a clear technological path ahead,” says Linkov. “The world could be consuming South African fuel cell technologies in the future.”
South Africa is home to the world’s largest source of platinum, which is a key element of hydrogen fuel cells. The Platinum Group Metals, who control access to the platinum, will be working with the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection over the next 12 months to research hydrogen technologies.
While hydrogen fuel presents a lucrative opportunity for South Africa, Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, executive dean for the Faculty of economic growth, asserts that the hydrogen economy should be a subset of the region’s industrialization efforts. He holds that fuel cell technologies should only be implemented if there is significant benefit to the population. He adds that more efficient mining technique must be developed before making aggressive uses of the world’s platinum supply.
Before hydrogen fuel cells can really become a reality, a capable infrastructure must be established. Without a means for refueling, fuel cell technology will not be able to function commercially.