by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG – SOUTH Africa is facing a major skills crisis that could scuttle its transition to a green hydrogen economy.
Yershen Pillay, Chief Executive Officer of the Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (CHIETA), forecast the crisis to prevail in the next five to ten years.
Thousands of engineers, technicians and green artisans will be required to realise South Africa’s green hydrogen aspirations.
Pillay disclosed that many companies in the nascent stages of green hydrogen production and distribution were already announcing shortages in skilled hydrogen fuel transporters.
“If left unattended, the massive gains in green hydrogen infrastructure investment could lead to minimal returns for the country,” the executive said.
In a recent report, CHIETA identified 17 future skills for success in the hydrogen economy.
These include hydrogen fuel technicians, systems engineers, power plant managers, power system electricians, storage specialists, electrolysis engineers, pipeline installers and safety specialists.
CHIETA has subsequently embarked on a plan to upskill 1 000 chemical engineers to become hydrogen systems engineers by 2025.
“It is imperative that the national green hydrogen workforce development strategy prioritizes these 17 hydrogen skills to avoid importing talent from abroad when the dawn of green hydrogen’s promise reaches our doorstep,” Pillay said.
According to a recent report by clean energy powerhouse, Masdar, African countries today account for about 3 percent of global hydrogen projects.
Africa has the potential to capture up to 10 percent of the global green hydrogen market by 2030.
The African hydrogen industry could create up to 3,7 million jobs and boost economies by US$60 billion by 2050.
CHIETA believes South Africa has the potential to be a global leader in green hydrogen production due to its natural and technological endowments.
Its vast land, solar and wind resources combined with existing technology make the cost of producing green hydrogen cheaper than global competitors.
Some countries are placing their bets on South Africa as the future global green hydrogen leader.
Germany recently announced a R277-million ($15,8 million) grant in favour of chemicals group, Linde, for their green hydrogen project in Mpumalanga province.
The Public Investment Corporation (PIC) stated that approximately R4,3 trillion is required for the development of South Africa’s green hydrogen economy.
“However, not much attention is being paid to the skills needs of the hydrogen economy and the widening green hydrogen skill gap,” Pillay lamented.
– CAJ News