South African village becomes first to be powered by fuel cells

Tue Aug 5, 2014 1:04pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

* 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...