The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has a mandate to achieve mastery of technological change in South Africa’s economy and society. In the process of achieving the mandate, the DST identified Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies (HFCT) as a “frontier science and technology” platform that would allow proactive innovation and knowledge generation to benefit from South Africa’s natural resources. Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology is a technology which uses both hydrogen and fuel cells to generate electrical energy. Hydrogen is an energy carrier which stores and delivers energy in a usable form.

The National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Research, Development and Innovation (NHFCT RDI) strategy, branded Hydrogen South Africa (HYSA), was officially launched in September 2008. The vision of the strategy is to use local resources and existing knowledge to create knowledge and human resource capacity, enabling the development of high-value commercial activities in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. To implement the strategy, three Centres of Competence were established (HYSA Infrastructure, HYSA Catalysis and HYSA Systems) to promote proactive innovation and create human resources required to develop future industries in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies field.

In order for any new technology to succeed, a complete buy-in from all its stakeholders is required. It is for this reason that the Hydrogen South Africa Public Awareness, Demonstration and Education Platform (HySA PADEP) was created to market the technology locally and internationally. The main aim of HYSA PADEP is to create awareness, visibility and acceptance amongst the public, industries, entrepreneurs and key decision makers in South Africa about the challenges, benefits and safety of using HFCT in the alternative energy industry. Given the relative newness of the technology, it is the HYSA PADEP’s aim to introduce this field of expertise to the youth of South Africa in order to stimulate interest in the field by showcasing cutting edge research and profiling current and future careers that this sector has on offer. It is also the platform’s aim to present new business opportunities that this technology offers to industries and entrepreneurs.

Key Messages:

  • To ensure optimal exposure of fuel cells that have already been installed at science centres.
  • To inform and engage the public about the safety, challenges and benefits of using Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Technologies (HFCT) in South Africa.
  • To create visibility and acceptance amongst entrepreneurs, industries and key decision makers in order to encourage invest in this technology.