South Africa has recently made headlines for it’s support of testing for a new methanol fueled home generator that will be used to combat power shortages in remote rural neighborhoods. Projections were announced at the Hydrogen + Fuel Cells 2013 International Conference in Canada by South Africa’s deputy mineral resources minister Godfrey Oliphant.
Advances in technology such as these home generators are essential for the development of South African rural communities in that they will overcome the shortcomings of the current power grid and fight a country wide resource curse. Platinum is one of the highly prized fuel cell “ingredients” used by Ballard (the company through which South Africa is promoting development of fuel cells) and South Africa currently holds 75% of the global supply. By taking control of the precious mineral, the country is able to avoid dangerous levels of foreign direct investment and redirect any productive use towards its own people.
Field testing of Ballard Power Systems and Amplats will be undertaken in 2014. Once the testing will be successfully completed, more than 200 of these units will be distributed for pilot testing in rural villages across powerless areas of South Africa.
As energy and renewable fuels have come to dominate government funded projects, this methanol fueled home generator is seen as a bright future in industry, technology, business, and civilian lifestyle. By decreasing the amount of the civilian population living without electricity, South Africa will not only be able to increase overall quality of life, but do so in a sustainable way.