Gauteng looks to solar and gas for power

The Gauteng province is mulling a shift from an electrical power base dominated by coal fired technology into a mix that emphasizes renewable energy, mainly solar, and gas powered facilities.

This was expressed by the Gauteng Infrastructure Development MEC Qedani Mahlangu last week in a speech presented to the SA Black Technical and Allied Careers Organisation. A report published in SAnews.gov.za quotes Mahlangu saying the Gauteng province is planning a R11.2bn rollout of solar panels on all state-owned buildings and to jack up natural gas infrastructure.

She said there was approximately 8-million square metres of roof-top space available on government-owned buildings in the province. “Our calculations indicate that a mass roll-out of solar panels on government roof-tops will come at a cost of about R11.2-billion and lead to the generation of up to 300 MW of electricity.” This was part of the province’s integrated energy strategy which takes shape through a number of projects scheduled for the current financial year.

Other initiatives include “ambitious plans” to invest in natural gas infrastructure. “Gauteng has the most developed natural gas infrastructure in South Africa. This constitutes a natural gas pipeline infrastructure connecting from the supply source in Mozambique through Secunda to Babelegi.

She added that natural gas infrastructure had the potential to benefit up to 2-million middle-class residents in Gauteng’s townships and suburbs, by way of natural gas reticulation for cooking and heating.

“March 2014 will herald the end of [petrochemicals company] Sasol’s natural gas monopoly and the start of a natural gas industry regulated by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa,” said Mahlangu.

One of the planned projects is to replace the 77 coal-fired boilers in the province’s state hospitals with natural gas or diesel-fired boilers. “Twenty-one boilers are planned for replacement this fiscal year and the balance over the next three years.”

Mahlangu also said that her department had entered into a partnership with state company iGas (the South African Gas Development Company) to conduct a feasibility study on the infrastructure required to supply natural gas to hospital boilers.

“Our biggest showcase for the use of gas to meet hospital energy needs will be the tri-generation plant proposed for Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital as a pilot project. In this regard, the consultation process with stakeholders, such as the Department of Health and Treasury, is at an advanced stage.”

news@ujuh.co.za

This report was adapted from a piece published in  SAnews.gov.za.

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