Clean energy has been at the heart of Emerald from the beginning. So our recent partnership with Sasol—South Africa’s largest producer of fuel and chemicals—to manage the a significant share of its corporate venture-capital activity as it implements its strategy to reach net zero by 2050, is momentous not only for us but also for the energy transition. This will not only help Sasol meet its sustainability targets, as we curate partnerships and investments to foster clean solutions at scale, but could also accelerate the net-zero journey of South Africa as a whole and serve as a model for decarbonization for industrial giants in the emerging world.
Q&A with Sven Godorr, Sasol’s Vice-President of Technology:
Q: What specific new technologies does Sasol see as most important to its decarbonization journey?
Sven: Technologies that make fossil-free hydrogen available continuously, at scale and at reasonable cost, will be important, as will be those providing carbon, which could be captured CO2 from industrial sources or the processing of sustainable biomass or waste. Combining hydrogen and carbon inputs using technologies that Sasol has optimized over the last 70 years will allow us to create chemical and fuel products that can be directly used in existing value chains. Sasol will also look at new technologies and pathways, where these enable more efficient processes, provide new products or offer sustainability solutions.
Q: What does Sasol see as its most prominent decarbonization driver?
Sven: Sustainable aviation fuel is a good example of an area where the industry and regulators have set clear goals, whilst in chemical markets customers are the dominant driver in setting products of interest as well as the carbon reductions that are needed. Clearly our shareholders are very interested in Sasol making this transition, but they also require us to remain competitive and profitable as this occurs. The development and commercial adoption of innovative technology solutions will be central to delivering on this.
Q: How does Sasol view its decarbonization efforts moving in concert with those of South Africa as a country?
Sven: Sasol is a very large player in the South African economy and we understand our responsibilities to the communities that we serve. We have a strong tradition of technical innovation, investment and skills development in the country, which positions us well to drive such a transformation. The South African economy has historically been very coal-based but has incredible renewable resources, in particular wind and solar, so that the transition that Sasol will be undertaking will also occur in the broader economy. Sasol sees itself as an important contributor to the bigger transition, by generating the required momentum and growing expertise.