South Africa is currently working on a number of new transport technologies as it slowly moves away from petrol and diesel-based engines.
This is according to the Department of Transport’s recently published Green Strategy document which outlines government’s plans to move to these new technologies by the year 2030.
Notably, the Department of Transport said that it is currently working with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Science and Technology on the introduction of hydrogen fuel-cell driven transport in the public sector.
Hydrogen fuel-cell technology is advantageous in that it has a low carbon footprint – therefore contributing to cleaner air. It also involves minimal noise when used in fuel cells.
However, implementation from scratch of production, distribution, and retail outlets for hydrogen fuel-cells is likely to be expensive.
Each fuel-cell vehicle would require $900 to $1,000 (R12,000–R13,500) according to 2013 International Energy Agency (IEA) estimations.
In addition to plans to introduce the technology to municipal bus fleets, the Department of Transport said that it had also begun trialling hydrogen technology in a number of ‘demonstration projects’ to showcase how the technology can make an impact in a number of sectors.
This includes a new trial of hydrogen-powered scooters at the South African Post Office.
“Battery electric scooters tend to encounter challenges associated with range limitations, particularly in areas where the terrain is bad,” the Department of Transport said.
“In such instances, hydrogen fuel cells could be used to extend the range of these scooters and increase productivity.
“A project of this nature is currently underway through a collaboration between HySA and the South African Post Office (SAPO), with funding from the Department of Science and Technology.
“At least three battery electric scooters will have their range extended using hydrogen fuel cells with the onboard hydrogen stored in containers using metal hydride hydrogen storage material developed through the HySA Programme.
“The first such scooter has been completed and is currently undergoing performance testing and validation,” it said.