South Africa and Germany host fuel cell bus workshop

Feb 17, 2017

The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) in partnership with the German Government, will host a fuel bus workshop at the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (SARETEC) in Bellville, Cape Town from February 20 to 21. The workshop will be held under the theme Fuel Cell Bus – Unleashing Industrial Opportunities for South Africa through a Zero Emission Choice and is part of the South African-German Energy Partnership. The Director-General of the dti Lionel October and his German counterpart Thorsten Herdan will deliver keynote addresses on the first day of the workshop. They will speak on hydrogen and fuel cell promotion in South Africa and Germany.

A fuel-cell hybrid electric bus in Stuttgart Enlarge image A fuel-cell hybrid electric bus in Stuttgart (© picture alliance / dpa) According to October, the purpose of the workshop is to provide a platform where South Africans can learn from the German experiences with the successful roll-out of fuel cell buss pilots in various cities. Experts from Germany involved in clean transport solutions will be available for discussions on topics like the state of play of fuel cell busses, policies and programs that support this technology, lessons learnt from current zero emission bus deployments and brainstorming strategies to encourage adoption and deployment in South Africa. Key stakeholders in the South African bus transportation and mining industries, as well as government will attend the workshop. These include mining companies, manufacturers of busses as well as officials from various departments and metros.

“South Africa is one of the 55 countries representing an estimated 55 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions which made a commitment at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) to limit global warming to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The transport sector is a major contributor to South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions. In order to reduce South Africa’s carbon footprint bold steps need to be taken. These include a paradigm shift from private to public transport, switching to cleaner fuels and adopting cleaner technologies,” says October.

The South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre in Bellville Enlarge image The South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre in Bellville (© SARETEC) Fuel cell buses present an opportunity for South Africa to play a role in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and improving quality of life. Moreover fuel cells containing a platinum catalyst present a value proposition for the South African economy in terms of the potential for job creation and growth in the platinum mining and mineral beneficiation industry.

“South Africa and Germany have a joint strategic interest to dig deeper into the great potential that hydrogen and fuel cells provide for clean mobility, the efficient supply of power and heat as well as storage medium for renewable energies. Already a variety of cooperation between South Africa and Germany exists today and we encourage experts from both countries to intensify their cooperation for our mutual benefit. With fuel cell bus pilots already in place in cities like Hamburg, Cologne and Stuttgart, we gained a great deal of experiences which we are happy to share, not only during today’s workshop”, says Herdan.

Bus transport in Johannesburg Enlarge image Bus transport in Johannesburg (© picture-alliance/ dpa) In 2015 the Tshwane, Johannesburg and Cape Town metros, together with 23 other cities across the globe, signed a C40 Clean Bus Declaration in which they committed to reducing emissions from vehicles by adopting clean bus technologies. “Efforts by these cities to implement cleaner bus technologies in line with their commitments present a window of opportunity for fuel cells and a new market for platinum which will increase jobs in the platinum mining and mineral beneficiation industries. The Germans are leading in the adoption of the fuel cell bus technology and the workshop will provide an opportunity for them to share their best practices and lessons learnt with key metros. The intention is to make fuel cells busses feature prominently in the metro’s plans to roll out green forms of mass transportation in their cities after they have learnt about fuel cell busses and understanding the value proposition that they have on the entire economy,” adds October.

The Secretariat of the South African-German Energy Partnership, funded by the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and managed by the German development agency GIZ is providing support to this workshop and the further cooperation between fuel cell and hydrogen actors from both countries.

© dti

South African-German Energy Partnership

Table Mountain in Cape Town

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German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy


The central priority of economic policy - and therefore of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy - is to lay the foundations for economic prosperity in Germany and to ensure that this prosperity is spread broadly throughout the population.

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

The GIZ is responsible for implementing the German government's development policy projects and programs. It was formed in late 2010, from the merger of the German development agencies GTZ (German Technical Cooperation), DED (German Development Service) and InWEnt (Capacity Building International).