Sasol-NRF Hosts the first Energy Transition Research Summit

Sasol-NRF Hosts the first Energy Transition Research Summit

Energy transition presents an opportunity for stakeholders in various sectors to respond to energy, socio-economic and environmental challenges in a sustainable and inclusive way. In response to the need to develop practical research programmes and partnerships to support South Africa’s energy transition, Sasol and the National Research Foundation (NRF) hosted the first Research Summit on Energy Transition on Tuesday, 11 October 2022. The summit, held at Sasol’s head office in Johannesburg, brought together experts, leaders and specialists from academia, research performing entities, Government, industry, and other stakeholders.

Among other things, the summit explored critical gaps and challenges that hinder the effective implementation of practical, scalable, and measurable national and/or sectoral research responses, strategies, and programmes. To better respond and contribute to the energy transition agenda, the summit focused on how best to effectively enable a focused national research effort.

Acknowledging the need for an energy transition, Sasol’s President and CEO, Fleetwood Grobler, said Although green hydrogen is not yet cost competitive, Sasol is advancing efforts across multiple fronts to develop the skills and understanding necessary to exploit fully the opportunity green hydrogen could offer. Through research, collaboration, and the learning-through-doing that real projects provide, Sasol is rapidly advancing its capabilities in these new areas.”

From L to R: Dr Aldo Stroebel (NRF Acting Group Executive SPP), Dr Cathy Dwyer Vice President: Science Research at Sasol Research & Technology (Sasol), Dr Fulufhelo Nelwamondo (NRF CEO), Mr Fleetwood Grobler (President and Chief Executive Officer (Sasol), Dr Eugene Lottering (NRF DCEO RISA)

Daryl Wilson, Executive Director of the internationalHydrogen Council, presented a detailed overview of the hydrogen economy. “For South Africa to attain the goals of the energy transition,” he said, “there is a need to avoid duplication within system, not to waste time, not to focus on the wrong things and the need to make the biggest contribution in the best way, as quickly as possible.”

The NRF’s CEO Dr Fulufhelo Nelwamondo said, “The partnership between the NRF and Sasol and the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC) is not only playing a key role in accelerating the co-creation of knowledge for impact and skills development, addressing the critical energy challenges, but also showcasing the value of an effective partnership within the innovation ecosystem.”

“Research institutions, funders and industry actors all have a critical role to play in supporting the effort towards a sustainable and just energy transition. Research institutions such as universities are critical for training and for the development of innovative solutions, and also play a key role in providing evidence-based information and advice to decision-makers in both the private and public sectors.”

Speaking on behalf of the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC), Executive Director, Dr Crispian Olver, highlighted the importance of the Just Transition Framework in fulfilling South Africa’s green energy transition. He underlined the need for increased funding to support the just energy transition, which will require the joint efforts of the private sector, domestic savings, public funding, development partners and philanthropic capital. Mr Simon Baloyi, Executive Vice President for Sasol’s Energy Operations, added that South Africa’s energy transition needs to be systematic, accountable, paced and informed by good research and development policy strategies and frameworks.

The discussions concluded by identifying potential approaches for Sasol and the NRF to consider in response to just energy transition challenges and opportunities. This includes enabling effective knowledge-sharing across the broader research community, aligning research focus areas and key challenges, and finding ways to promote stronger multi-disciplinary and international collaboration.

To date, Sasol and the NRF have collectively invested more than R150 million in industry-linked research and innovation projects in the next five years. These include collaborative research and skills development projects; Research Chairs in Power System Modelling and Green Hydrogen; and a tailored, postdoctoral Fellowship programme. Working with key stakeholders, both organisations intend to expand the scope and investment of this initiative. In addition, through a partnership with Sasol Foundation Trust, the NRF and Sasol have supported almost 400 students in STEM fields over the last 10 years.

Related Posts