This report was compiled to (1) discuss the progress of South Africa’s proposed Hydrogen Society and Platinum Valley Project, (2) elaborate on the ongoing debate between Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV), and (3) to explore the potential viability for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) production and demand in South Africa.
Key findings of this report are that South Africa’s Hydrogen Economy is still in its infancy. While FCEVs are proposed as a source of demand for platinum group metals (PGM) beneficiation, national government policy and industry research seems primarily focussed on developing cost-effective Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology (HFCT) for export as well as building capabilities for the domestic manufacture of Fuel Cell Technology (FCT). South Africa has been widely regarded as a major potential generator of renewable electricity through solar and wind energy, this would create a significant advantage to locally produce green hydrogen. While clear opportunities for the export of South African green hydrogen and HFCT have been identified, it appears that the local economy will be slower in its uptake of green hydrogen and HFCT for domestic use. Globally, it seems that BEVs are the preferred replacement for Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) passenger vehicles primarily operating in urban areas, while FCEVs are shown to be more effective in heavy and long-range modes of transport. In particular, FCEVs have competitiveness potential in the large passenger vehicle segment as well as light commercial, medium commercial, heavy commercial and extra-heavy commercial vehicle markets.