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A just energy transition on our own terms, argues Africa

African countries facing pressure from the West to switch from fossil fuels to cleaner forms of energy have called for a fair transition that will not “sacrifice” Africa’s socio-economic development.

However, the African Energy Week held in Cape Town, also heard that the continent was only responsible for less than 3% of global carbon emissions.

With the Climate Change Conference in Cairo next month, industry role-players on the continent reaffirmed their commitment to reducing carbon emissions by 2050.

One of the world’s largest oil and gas reserve holders with an established hydrocarbons market, Saudi Arabia, told the conference that it was important for different countries to choose the path that was right for them.

“With a country so blessed with all kinds of resources including oil, renewables, and green hydrogen, we use these to maximise energy security and enhance access to clean cooking through liquefied petroleum gas,” said Dr Gasem Fallatah, Oil Sustainability Programme deputy director in Saudi Arabia’s energy ministry.

Fallatah said the country was working in collaboration with international parties to meet the country’s obligations.

“The transition needs to be inclusive. It has to be with and not against ideologies and targets of different regions and governments. In our country, we take into consideration the priorities that we have set for ourselves.

“Nations need to choose for themselves the path that is right for them, they need to choose their priorities while prioritising the impact they have on the global energy ecosystem.”

The country adopted a sustainability programme endorsed by the G20 which aimed to sustain hydrocarbons as a competitive source of energy from an environmental view.

As part of its green initiative, the country had also set itself a target to produce 50% of its energy through renewables by 2030.

“We have also committed ourselves to zero carbon emission by 2060 by using clean hydrocarbons,” added Fallatah.

Dr Nosa Omorodion, director of  National Directorates and Independents in West Africa, said finding the right energy mix would be an important step going forward. 

“There is a stress on the energy mix that we have at the moment, energy access continues to become a problem,” he said. 

“We need to optimise the exploitation of current resources whilst looking at how new technologies can be integrated to support the current energy mix.

“It is important that Africa protects what it has, optimise, and exploit for security. The conversation needs to be just and make carbon sense. Above all getting the right energy mix is crucial.”

South Africa’s chemicals and energy group, Sasol said it supported the country’s just transition journey.

Head of Just Transition at Sasol, David Kawesha, said the company had not set one particular path to achieving net-zero targets.

“We have set a target to reduce emissions by 30% by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050, in line with the government’s goal to reduce emissions by 400 million tons by 2030.

“We will be introducing 600MW of renewable power into the energy mix and we are ensuring that the path reduces the socio-economic impact in terms of job security,“ said Kawesha.

He added that an office solely focused on a just transition would be launched in 2023 to develop a roadmap through to 2050 to ensure that coal workers were equipped with new skills.

“We see opportunities in hard-to-abate industries, such as aviation, to ensure sustainable aviation and manufacturing, hence diversifying into the green hydrogen industry.”

The company also signed a partnership with ArcelorMittal South Africa to develop carbon capture technology to produce sustainable fuels and chemicals, including green steel production through green hydrogen and derivatives.

The two parties will advance studies exploring how the Saldanha Bay region could be used as an  export hub for green hydrogen and derivatives.

The Vaal carbon capture and utilisation study will focus on how to use renewable electricity and green hydrogen to convert captured carbon from ArcelorMittal South Africa’s Vanderbijlpark’s steel plant into sustainable fuels and chemicals.

Announcing the joint partnership this week, vice president for Sasol’s Energy Business, Priscillah Mabelane, said the projects held promise to unlock South Africa’s potential to be a global green hydrogen and derivatives player.

“These studies are anchored by the local need for green hydrogen and sustainable products, cementing Sasol as the leading contributor to the development of southern Africa’s green hydrogen economy,” said Mabelane.

Technology company, Schlumberger, said with the energy transition taking centre stage, there was an evolution in the sector from exploration and production to environment and politics.

Source Article: IOL