South African village becomes first to be powered by fuel cells
* Anglo American Platinum, Ballard Power behind pilot scheme
* Africa suffers from chronic power shortages
* Fuel cells could reach rural areas off the grid
By Zandi Shabalala
KROONSTAD, South Africa, Aug 5 (Reuters) - A South African village has become the first in the world to be powered by fuel cells, companies behind the project said on Tuesday, in a new scheme which could help remote areas of the continent access electricity for the first time.
South Africa suffers from power shortages and state-run utility Eskom is struggling to keep up with rising electricity demand, while around 2 million poorer households live without any access to the grid.
"What we have here is a world first," said Chris Griffith, chief executive of Anglo American Platinum, which is partnering with Canadian-listed Ballard Power Systems in piloting the project.
"Fuel cell mini-grid technology is a cost-competitive alternative to grid electrification in these remote areas and could accelerate access to electricity," Amplats said.
Amplats is investing around $20 million in the "mini-grid", which will function independently from the national grid. Continued...