Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies has launched Africa’s first ever 100-kilowatt fuel cell that runs on platinum and natural gas.
Platinum Power Fuel Cell was installed at the Chamber of Mines offices in Johannesburg. It is Africa’s first ever building base-load fuel cell that runs on natural gas and will see South Africa gain entry into the manufacturing and distribution of fuel cell components.
Platinum Power Fuel Cell is a joint project between the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) through a financial injection of R7.5 million for feasibility work of the project and Mitochondria, the energy company that received loan financing to the tune of R3.25 million from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).
Speaking at the launch on Wednesday, Minister Davies said being home to 80% of the world’s known platinum reserves puts South Africa at the forefront of developing fuel cell technology.
“It also answers to the demand and it enhances opportunities for those in the mining industry. The real value chain is by being involved in value addition through beneficiation,” said the Minister.
He said there is no reason South Africa cannot become a significant player in the manufacturing of fuel cell generators using platinum.
“It is for that reason that we have been looking at ways we can add value to our resources as a driver of industrial development in our country,” said Minister Davies.
He said Platinum Power Fuel Cell technology takes the country to the top of the value chain where “we would be able to establish small plants like this one providing power in outlying areas and areas where it is difficult to connect people to the grid”.
He said the dti is contemplating the development of a platinum based Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
“We also have a range of incentive programmes in place. Our team is available to discuss with this industry establishing a plant in South Africa and ways that government can support and encourage this very important technologically leading value addition to our platinum reserves,” he said.