The country is ideally positioned to develop the technology and the spin-offs would be large.

``The Chamber of Mines in central Johannesburg has power even when load-shedding brings the rest of the country, including the chamber’s own members, to its knees.

This is thanks to the 100 kilowatt (kW) platinum-based hydrogen fuel cell unit, which hums quietly in one of the outer quads of the building.

Fed by the Egoli Gas network, the unit powers a building that houses about 340 people, including businesses that rent space from the chamber.

At its peak, the office block draws 120kW, according to the head of information service at the chamber, Jeannette Hofsajer-van Wyk.

The whole building cannot be linked up to the fuel cell system because of its age and resultant complications with its wiring.

But 70% of the organisation’s critical equipment is hooked up to the generator, so the chamber can stay up and running when the power goes down.''