Our CEO explores how hydrogen's potential impact could revolutionise South Africa's fuel retail sector

Hydrogen’s environmental friendliness has thrust it into the spotlight as a key player in decarbonising industries and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As the world pivots towards sustainable energy solutions, it has emerged as a frontrunner in reshaping the fuel landscape. Our CEO, Fabian Magerman, explores how hydrogen’s potential impact could revolutionise South Africa’s fuel retail sector.

According to the Department of Energy, hydrogen stands out as a pristine fuel that, when utilised in a fuel cell, generates nothing but water. This versatile fuel can be derived from a range of domestic sources, including natural gas, nuclear power, biomass, and renewable sources like solar and wind energy. Its exceptional attributes render it an appealing choice for various applications in transportation and electricity generation. From fuelling cars and powering homes to providing portable energy solutions, hydrogen finds diverse and extensive utility across multiple sectors.

“Discussions surrounding hydrogen have gained considerable momentum in recent times,” says Magerman. “While the industry is certainly in its infancy, Government states that the hydrogen economy has a prominent role to play in our country’s just energy transition, providing employment and support to vulnerable workers, communities and small businesses. In fact, it has been estimated that the hydrogen economy has the potential to add 3.6 percent to our GDP by 2050 and approximately 370,000 jobs,” continues Magerman.

Further to this, Forbes Africa recently highlighted a significant development in the field, reporting the launch of the world’s largest hydrogen-powered mining vehicle in South Africa by the multi-national mining company Anglo American in 2022. Adding to this progress, in February of this year, Tech Central reported on BMW’s collaboration with Anglo Platinum and Sasol, marking the launch of a fleet of hydrogen-fuelled vehicles for testing purposes in South Africa.

“Based on these developments, one can’t help but wonder how this will impact the fuel retail industry in South Africa,” says Magerman. “While hydrogen is currently not part of Moov’s product offering, its potential is fascinating. South Africa’s fuel retail sector is robust and dynamic, catering to a diverse range of customers and industries. With a network of fuel stations spanning urban centers, highways, and rural areas, the sector plays a pivotal role in ensuring energy accessibility for transportation, logistics, agriculture, and manufacturing. The sector’s sizeable presence reflects its significance in the country’s economy and daily life. At Moov Fuel, we’re currently servicing approximately 86 fuel service stations in South Africa. The adoption of hydrogen in the fuel industry, particularly in the context of South Africa’s fuel retail sector, carries numerous potential implications.”

Diversification of Fuel Offerings:

“Fuel retailers would need to adapt their offerings to include hydrogen alongside traditional fossil fuels. This diversification aligns with global trends towards cleaner energy alternatives and meets consumer demand for sustainable options,” says Magerman.

Infrastructure Investment:

“The introduction of hydrogen fuelling stations requires significant infrastructure investment. Fuel retailers would need to collaborate with technology providers, government agencies, and investors to establish a robust hydrogen refueling network across strategic locations,” continues Magerman.

Consumer Education and Adoption:

“Educating consumers about the benefits of hydrogen, addressing concerns about safety and infrastructure, and incentivising hydrogen vehicle adoption are key factors in driving consumer demand. Fuel retailers can play a crucial role in promoting awareness and facilitating the transition to hydrogen-powered transportation,” says Magerman.

Regulatory Framework:

“Developing a supportive regulatory framework is essential for the widespread adoption of hydrogen in the fuel retail sector. This includes standards for hydrogen production, storage, distribution, and safety protocols to ensure compliance and build trust among stakeholders,” adds Magerman.

“Hydrogen certainly holds enormous potential,” concludes Magerman. “We’re excited to see how the industry is going to evolve in the next decade.”