Hydrogen safety certificate is on the cards – Chieta

Yershen Pillay is the CEO of the Chemical Industries Education & Training Authority.

Yershen Pillay is the CEO of the Chemical Industries Education & Training Authority.

Published May 14, 2024


Hydrogen safety is the first certificate in the pipeline by the Chemical Industries Education & Training Authority (Chieta) and is expected out in six months with more to come.

This was according to Yershen Pillay, the CEO of Chieta, speaking at a Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking event held on Monday, which focused on “Green Hydrogen: Opportunities and Challenges En Route to a Sustainable Future”.

Pillay said hydrogen pipe-fitters could not start on a hydrogen project without this safety certificate and South Africa currently didn’t have it in the country. But this was now in the pipeline, he said.

Chieta was working on two other certificates, which were expected to be accredited by March 2025 at the latest.

Chieta is an entity of Department of Higher Education and Training (Dhet) and point of contact with chemical industries. Dhet is leading South Africa’s master plan on hydrogen skills.

Chieta’s industry partners include Sasol, BP, Linde (Afrox) and Rheinmetall.

South Africa has to build skills to enable the green hydrogen market.

South Africa has the potential to produce 13 million metric tons of green hydrogen by 2050. Africa currently only accounts for about 3% of global hydrogen projects and has the potential to capture up to 10% of the global green hydrogen market.

Pillay said there were seven key levers for hydrogen development:

- Dhet spearheading the development of skills across Setas, TVET colleges, and institutions of higher learning.

- Training on maintenance, fitting, and other hydrogen technologies such as fuel cell technology can bridge the skills gap.

- Chieta was planning to upskill chemical engineers to hydrogen systems engineers.

- Anticipating future skills dynamics in five to 10 years’ time

- Structured collaborative agreements between energy, chemicals, transport, agriculture, manufacturing and mining sectors.

- Coherent national hydrogen policy, global standardised hydrogen certifications framework.

- More research and development in cost-effective hydrogen production, storage, and distribution. More funding for hydrogen research. Hydrogen is highly volatile, and research around safety and how to safely transport or distribute hydrogen was required.

Zukile Mvalo, the deputy director general of the Dhet, said currently South African was having to import skills.

But the Dhet was implementing a demand-led skills intervention and developing these skills in South Africa to ensure that “skills are not a constraint to economic growth”.

Mvalo said education and training systems had to respond to the ever-evolving needs of the local labour market.

Mike Peo, the head of Infrastructure, Energy and Telcos at Nedbank CIB, said: “Collaboration between the private and public sector is driving us down the right path, coupled with training and the creation of the skills sets, is all very encouraging.”

Peo spoke to the new opportunities hydrogen presented. This comes as South Africa’s industrial base had been decimated in the past 10 to 15 years.

He said, for example, that if South Africa did not clean up its transport logistics systems, its cold storage systems, the country would get to a point in five years’ time that it wouldn’t be able to export fruit and vegetable products to “our biggest markets in Europe” because of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. The EU will tax non-renewable sourced products into their countries.

Similarly, other industries needed to go green.

“If we can start to get the momentum going, we are in a good position to make this happen,” he said.