German grant of R275m extended to Sasol and others developing green aviation fuel

The German government has extended a €15 million (R275 million) grant to a consortium of which Sasol is part to develop a sustainable aviation fuel at its Secunda operations, in Mpumalanga.

Sustainable aviation fuels are produced using renewable energy or waste, which means emissions from aircraft will be reduced.

Amid his visit to South Africa last week, German vice chancellor and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Dr Robert Habeck presented the grant for the HyShiFT project.

HyShiFT is a consortium consisting of German chemicals company Linde, energy and chemical company Sasol, German-based renewable energy company Enertrag and South African company Hydregen Energy, which develops and invests in green hydrogen infrastructure and projects.

Each of the partners brings different capabilities to the consortium. Energtrag produces renewable energy that will power the production of green hydrogen by Linde. The green hydrogen will be used by Sasol at its plant in Secunda, to produce a green aviation fuel, e-kerosene, using its Fischer Tropsch technology.

Sasol already produces jet fuels – but it is fossil fuel-based.

HyShiFT will build a 200MW electrolyser for the production of hydrogen in Mpumalanga. The electrolyser, powered by renewable energy, is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. It aims to produce 50 000 tonnes a day of kerosene, which would fuel two flights between Germany and South Africa (per day).

“The team aims to drive capacity building along the entire value chain of green hydrogen production and thus also strengthen knowledge building in South Africa around the gas,” the German embassy said in an emailed response to News24. The German government is funding the project’s first phase – which involves the construction of a 40MW electrolysis plant.

The grant funding for the consortium is separate from Germany’s backing of the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) with South Africa.

The JETP includes countries – the UK, US, France and EU. They pledged an initial $8.5 billion to support the decarbonisation of the South African economy. The funding is targeted at South Africa’s electricity sector and the establishment of a green hydrogen sector and electric vehicles.

German Development Bank KfW recently indicated it is offering a €23 million (~R420 million) grant to support early-stage green hydrogen projects in the country. This funding is part of the JETP.

Overall, Germany’s initial contribution to the JETP comes to €1.1 billion.