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The US$800 million export port and rail infrastructure project that is key to South Africa’s green hydrogen ambitions is making significant progress, according to the country’s national ports authority

Transnet recently announced the shortlisting of three consortiums for construction work on the Boegoebaai deep-water port and rail project. The port will facilitate the export of green hydrogen from the country’s Northern Cape Province, close to the Namibian border.

According to the statement, the three leading contenders, Boegoebaai Port & Rail Consortium, Boegoebaai Development Consortium and Project Elephant Consort, will submit proposals for designing, funding, and constructing the port and rail infrastructure.

Situated some 60 km north of Port Nolloth and just 20 km south of the Namibia-South Africa border, the port is set to revolutionise connectivity and provide essential logistics support for critical minerals like manganese.

According to TNPA Boegoebaai Programme Director Magenthran Ruthenavelu, the initiative will have a significant logistical impact on the resource-rich region by streamlining cargo movement from the Northern Cape.

“It will provide another export channel for mining commodities from South Africa to global markets,” he noted in a statement.

But the Boegoebaai port is not just about boosting mineral exports; it also holds the key to South Africa’s greener future.

Nestled close to an established hydrogen production plant, the port is expected to play a pivotal role in establishing the region as a formidable regional and global export hub for green hydrogen.

Its geographical advantage, with a short distance between the coastline and deep waters and the proximity to thriving mining and agriculture sectors, renders the proposed port an unparalleled resource for South Africa.

The project is set to become an integral part of the proposed Namakwa Special Economic Zone (SEZ), a crucial industrial hub for South Africa and will catalyse the industrialisation of the western SADC area.

A report by Creamer Media’s Engineering News reports that the SEZ will include a 10 GW capacity electrolyser park, a desalination plant, a green ammonia production plant and storage facilities for green hydrogen and ammonia.

Additionally, the SEZ will host a 240,000 hectare solar, wind and battery park, alongside a supplier park for standard components and a gigafactory boasting advanced manufacturing capabilities, particularly for electrolysers.

These are all part of a strategic plan to position the Northern Cape Province as a key driver of South Africa’s Green Hydrogen Strategy, an ambitious initiative to leverage the country’s Green Hydrogen potential in energy transition and to bridge energy gaps.

Consistent with the national Green Hydrogen Strategy, the Northern Cape has plans to construct 5 GW of electrolysis capacity, complemented by 10 GW of renewable energy generation by 2025-2026.

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