A new report released today, authored by UMAS and GMF, titled “Shipping’s Energy Transition: Strategic Opportunities in South Africa” explores the potential for South Africa to benefit from international maritime decarbonization. The report finds that South Africa, with its strong maritime connections and large renewable potential, has several promising business opportunities that could spur growth and a just transition, while accelerating decarbonization within and outside the maritime sector.

To decarbonize the maritime industry, there will be a massive need for green fuels and associated technologies. In particular, scalable zero-emission fuels (SZEF) such as green hydrogen and green ammonia are considered the most promising fuels for the industry’s transition. Due to its large renewable capacity and unique location sitting at the gateway between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, South Africa is, according to the new P4G-Getting to Zero Coalition report, well-positioned to benefit from the maritime decarbonization agenda on a both domestic and international level. The country holds the potential to accelerate the transition to cleaner forms of energy across the economy, creating several opportunities for the country.

“Shipping decarbonization and energy transition are intrinsically linked for any country, but they are also difficult to unpick and turn into scalable and impactful opportunities and policies. By bringing together quantitative analytics on shipping and energy, understanding the policy landscape, and engaging with South Africa’s stakeholder perspectives on opportunities, we hope that our efforts will help unlock South Africa’s significant potential”, says Dr Santiago Suarez De La Fuente, Lecturer in Energy and Transport at UCL Energy Institute.

Being part of the transition for shipping would allow South Africa to engage in, for example, green fuel production, exports, and bunkering; supporting a just and equitable job transition; creating green hubs and green ports; as well as allowing for green corridors along key shipping routes. The report cites the deep-water commercial port of Saldanha Bay and Booegoebai, a proposed deepwater port project, as promising locations for bunkering and exports of SZEF. It also highlights the Hydrogen Valley, with a possible maritime component in Richard’s Bay.

The lead authors of the report – Katrina Abhold, Project Lead at Global Maritime Forum and Dr. Alison Shaw, Research Associate at UCL – estimate that development of SZEF infrastructure to serve South Africa’s shipping sector could attract investment up to R175 billion Rand ($11.1 billion USD) in onshore infrastructure by 2030, and with appropriate incentives and targeted action towards encouraging economy-wide energy, investment, and environmental planning, South Africa could become a first mover in this field and set an example for other countries to follow.

However, to realize this potential, the report states, there is a need for South Africa to support the development of a policy framework capable of facilitating the transition to zero-emission shipping. This would require defining national climate objectives more clearly in maritime policies, as well as supporting and advancing international policies capable of accelerating the just transition to zero emission fuels globally.

Download the full report