The University of Pretoria (UP) is involved in the training of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college graduates in Hydrogen Fuel Cell systems. This is in partnership with Bambili Energy, the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation (DSI), and the Energy & Water Sector Education Training Authority (EWSETA).
On 2 November 2020, the launch of the training took place at the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology (EBIT) in Hatfield campus. Training is expected to end on 11 December. The aim is to develop competent, capable and work-ready technicians for the deployment, installation, and maintenance of hydrogen fuel cell systems in South Africa and beyond,” said Professor Raj Naidoo, Head of the Department of Electrical, Electronic, and Computer Engineering, in the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology (EBIT).
The DDG at DSI, Dr Muofhe explained that the training is funded by the EWSETA and DSI “as part of implementing the Cabinet-approved Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) Strategy through a 15-year Research, Development and Innovation HySA Programme. This programme is aimed at developing hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, with a focus on beneficiating the platinum group metals resource base that South Africa possesses. The programme is therefore an important pillar in positioning South Africa as part of the emerging global hydrogen economy.”
Dean of the EBIT Faculty, Professor Sunil Maharaj said “this is a great event for the university since UP supports human capital development. We are honored to launch this event. At UP we are part of the energy space in the country from both demand-side management and energy efficiency covering solar, nuclear, other renewables, and now hydrogen. We are humbled to partner with Bambili Energy on this journey.”
Referring to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, Prof Maharaj said, “We need to save this planet especially in terms of climate change and clean energy for sustainable living. We all need to work together to make this planet a safer place for the next generation and UP is grateful to walk this journey with all the partners ranging from government, SOE, industry, OEM, and the SETA.”
Bambili Energy was selected by the DSI to facilitate this training that complements the demonstration of 15 hydrogen fuel cell systems in South Africa. Currently, seven of these fuel cell systems are supporting the 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria, in response to government support on the COVID-19 challenge.
“It has been an incredible journey of planning and organising for this launch. We are grateful for the partnership and support in this journey of training of the first group of graduates,” said Zanele Mavuso Mbatha, CEO of Bambili Energy.
“With regards to the training of the graduates, we made sure that we partner with a reputable academic institution which is UP. The goal of this training is to ensure that by the completion of the training, graduates are effectively knowledgeable about the fuel cell industry, about the hydrogen economy, about renewable energy and most importantly they can fuel and maintain the fuel cell systems going forward.”
Addressing the event virtually, Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Buti Manamela said fuel cells are expected to play a significant role in providing energy to buildings and in off-grid electrification, particularly in areas where grid extension is not economically viable. “To address these markets, capabilities need to be built to support the local manufacturing of the technologies as well as their deployment in the various applications. Having local skills to install, operate, and maintain the fuel cell systems is highly critical. The Department of Science and Innovation views this as an opportunity that can be filled by graduates at N4 to N6 levels with electrical and chemical engineering qualifications.”
CEO of the EWSETA, Mpho Mookapele said “there is a high number of graduates who are unemployed. This project will help fight that, and it is exciting to see that this training is led by industry.”