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South Africa’s migration away from coal and towards natural gas

Natural gas is currently the cheapest alternative to coal and nuclear, providing reliable power for peak demand periods.

In the latest news, South Africa’s Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson has announced that the country will be using natural gas in an attempt to reduce its dependence on coal. At a time when three quarters of the country’s energy supply comes from coal, the government is pushing the initiative to move towards cleaner power.

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“Gas will be a cornerstone of base-load (power),” she said in a news release. “Our vision is that gas will play a significant role in delivering timely, reliable and affordable electricity.”

According to our sister site African Business Review, natural gas is currently the cheapest alternative to coal and nuclear, providing reliable power for peak demand periods. South Africa currently has only a small amount of gas reserves and has no gas-fired generation facilities of its own, so it will need to build infrastructure in order to import, transport and burn fuel.

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According to South Africa’s state-owned ports and rail operator Transnet, basic engineering assessments have been carried out at three possible import terminals.

"The foreseen LNG glut is catching the attention of a lot of new markets," said Gonzalo Ramirez, director of business development for liquefied natural gas (LNG) provider Excelerate Energy. "One of the markets that we are seeing—and it’s very interesting because of the power-demand potential—is Africa."

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According to Econometrix MD Rob Jeffrey, creating a natural gas sector in South Africa has the potential to unlock billions of rand in investment, while also stimulating new industries and creating a raft of new jobs.

“It goes without saying that that this would provide ailing state electricity ESKOM with a new substantial source of power,” reported African Business Review. 

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