21/09/2022 | Story
Rheinmetall in South Africa – More energy
Energy-hungry South Africa still generates 90 percent of its electricity from mostly outdated coal-fired power plants. Most of them are technically outdated, poorly maintained and dilapidated. The power utility Eskom regularly shuts off the power completely. Whole districts and regions are then cut off from the power supply for hours. By 2050, however, renewable energies are to replace these fossil fuels in South Africa. This is one of the reasons why RDM is working on generating green energy for more than just its own needs. Driven by the innovation gene typical of Rheinmetall, the 2550 employees are using their know-how to find new ways of generating energy.
RDM CEO Jan-Patrick Helmsen, 42, describes how all this works and how new business areas are emerging from the goal of achieving CO2 neutrality by 2035. He leaves no doubt that he thinks nothing of fine announcements and all the more of intelligent solutions: Don't talk - do!
Thinking in solutions
Using existing knowledge in a new way
But all these measures are only part of the RDM strategy, because they mostly use already available, environmentally friendly technology. Things get exciting with the utilization of the extensive knowledge and experience in chemistry and industrial plant engineering to create new technical solutions. One result of this unique combination is an in-house development for independent and decentralized power generation that fits into four 20-foot containers and thus onto trucks. Such a cloverleaf can supply a settlement of 30 houses with electricity on a permanent and environmentally friendly basis.
Container 1 contains solar panels, container 2 the electrolysis system for producing hydrogen, container 3 serves as storage, and number 4 houses the fuel cell that supplies electricity even when the sun is not shining.
Due to the possibility of utilizing the oxygen that is also produced during this process, this system is also suitable for the medical sector, for hospitals that are mobile or located in regions that are difficult to access and have a poor supply.
Green energy from the sky
Rheinmetall Denel Munition as Energy Partner
- Full in-house solar capacity
- Global Green H2 supplier
- Complete turnkey solutions
- Permanently installed large-scale Green H2 factories
- Mobile, modular and scalable Green H2 factories
The future is happening now
How does the topic of green hydrogen fit in with RDM's core business? As a company in the chemical industry, RDM works on the development, production and sale of large-caliber ammunition for artillery, warheads and propulsion systems for rockets, and also on the production of explosives for the mining industry, as well as in the production of aluminum sulfate for drinking water treatment in the Western Cape region. In addition, there is the design and construction of industrial plants (plant engineering).
Vertical integration at RDM is almost 100 percent. In other words, RDM does practically everything itself and is not dependent on outside know-how in almost any area. Of course there are suppliers - in South Africa alone there are around 1,500 - but in no case is it a question of buying in knowledge. The Plant Engineering division therefore combines chemical expertise with comprehensive knowledge of plant engineering. These are the perfect prerequisites for green hydrogen projects.
Rheinmetall Green H2 system - example of a mobile application
The math works out
RDM owns 5500 hectares of company-owned land, or 55 million square meters. Enough space to build solar farms. Even with conservative calculations, the production of several gigawatt hours of electricity per year is possible.
If RDM makes full use of these capacities, the company will not only be able to meet its electricity needs in a CO2-neutral way, but will also be able to sell environmentally friendly electricity and the hydrogen produced in its own plants on a large scale. And the oxygen that is also produced during electrolysis is a sought-after commodity in hospitals.
"We are at the beginning of a large and rapidly advancing energy industry that is being redefined. We want to be part of this development from the very beginning and establish Rheinmetall as a green energy supplier in South Africa!"