Last week, South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) unveiled seven hydrogen fuel cell systems that will be used as the primary power source for a field hospital in Pretoria, South Africa as part of the government’s response to COVID-19.
The project is a public-private partnership between the DSI, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), the Department of Defence (DoD), Bambili Energy, HyPlat and international companies PowerCell Sweden, Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies (Singapore) and Element 1 Corporation (USA). Contributions of methanol and hydrogen fuel were also received from Air Products South Africa, Protea Chemicals and Sasol.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to respond with speed and flexibility, particularly in providing high care facilities for those who need them most. Containerized hydrogen fuel cells can be deployed at short notice to provide a clean source of energy, even when the need is only temporary.
The field hospital personnel will also receive hands-on training to ensure that the skills required to operate and manage the fuel cell systems are institutionalized within the government. The first two phases of training will focus on officials from the DoD and DPWI, while the third phase will involve unemployed TVET college graduates with N4 electrical and light and heavy current qualifications.