World’s Largest Hydrogen Truck, a ‘Giant Leap’ for SA and Alex Lekgau
World’s Largest Hydrogen Truck, a ‘Giant Leap’ for SA and Alex Lekgau. Photo: Anglo American ZA

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the launch of a hydrogen-powered truck is a “giant step” in the right direction for South Africa’s budding green hydrogen economy. And there’s one man particularly who’s in the spotlight right now – Alex Tumisang Lekgau, Africa’s first and ONLY licensed operator of said hydrogen truck.

Alex has risen from a diesel mechanic to become a globally qualified hydrogen truck driver at mining giant, Anglo American.

Anglo said: «We’re proud of Alex’s hard work and look forward to a future with more people embracing new skills as part of the #JustEnergyTransition to #GreenHydrogen and #Decarbonisation.»

The clean-energy powered 290-tonne payload truck that Alex will drive, was launched by Anglo American in Limpopo yesterday. The truck – which was converted from diesel to hydrogen – is also powered in part by lithium-ion batteries. It is a world first.

Anglo American said: «(Yesterday), Alex took the wheel of the world’s largest hydrogen-powered mine haul truck designed to operate in everyday mining conditions at our Mogalakwe PGMs mine in Limpopo.»

Alex’s dreams don’t end here. Anglo said he has his sights set on becoming a hydrogen truck safety facilitator at Anglo American.

Speaking at the launch, President Ramaphosa said: «What we are launching here today is not merely an impressive piece of machinery. It is the genesis of an entire ecosystem, powered by hydrogen.

World’s Largest Hydrogen Truck, a ‘Giant Leap’ for SA and Alex Lekgau
World’s Largest Hydrogen Truck, a ‘Giant Leap’ for SA and Alex Lekgau. Photo: SA News

“Developing the hydrogen economy is a strategic priority for our country. Not only will it be a valuable driver of economic growth and employment; it will also contribute to our decarbonisation efforts.

“The nuGen project provides demonstrable proof of the potential of this sector. It takes us from conceptualisation to reality,” he said.

The green hydrogen economy has been billed as a new frontier for clean energy as it emits low carbon emissions with a global potential of about $300 billion in exports.

South Africa holds approximately 80% of the world’s platinum group metals (PGMs) and 40% of the world’s platinum and palladium supplies – key components in the production of hydrogen.

President Ramaphosa said this could be catalytic for the country with plans already afoot to capitalise on this potential.

“The proposed hydrogen valley, stretching from Limpopo to Gauteng to KwaZulu-Natal, will position South Africa as a global centre for green hydrogen production.

“It will lead to the creation of new industries, aid the decarbonisation of sectors like transportation, manufacturing and construction, and create new jobs for our people in all these provinces,” he said.

The President added that the green hydrogen economy is also part of the country’s critical Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan borne out of the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The National Hydrogen Society Roadmap that was approved by Cabinet late last year will give added impetus to the task of building a sustainable and resilient economy,” he said.

The President emphasized, however, that local businesses must not be left behind in projects such as the development of the hydrogen-powered truck.

“The green hydrogen value chain that Anglo is playing such an integral part in developing must lead to the creation of new businesses and supply chains.

“It must result in more opportunities and employment for the South African people, starting right here in Limpopo,” he said. – Anglo American ZA and