Eskom says it could soon look into gas to satisfy most of the country’s electricity needs.
Speaking to SAnews, shortly after Eskom briefed Parliament’s Portfolio Committees on Public Enterprises and Energy on the state of the national power grid on Tuesday, the utility’s acting CEO Collins Matjila said they already had plans in place to exploit gas reserves off the east coast of Mozambique as early as next year.
Matjila said turning to gas would be a game changer for a utility that has been under pressure to supply electricity to the country’s commercial and residential customers due to an ageing power grid.
“We are looking at exploiting gas reserves for use as a fuel input into our power [grid] in three stages, the first one – which is short term – we have got an opportunity that we are working on that would give us an equivalent of 600 Megawatts.
“That will happen in 18 months, but we will be able to secure that 600 MW from Mozambique,” he said.
He said the second phase would take Eskom about 18 to 24 months, and will see the utility piping gas to South Africa that will avail an equivalent of 5 000 Megawatts of power from Maputo through the Rovuma gas fields.
Matjila also said that Eskom was already in talks with the electricity utility from Mozambique to make this happen.
“There is a third stage in our gas strategy, but it includes the exploitation of gas reserves inside the country, shale gas in the Western Cape, and the coalbed methane gas in Mpumalanga, both of them which are fairly longer term.
“But we will be looking into those and partnering with our own government to see how we can jointly exploit that for long term supply,” he said.
Eskom is one of the biggest utilities in the world with over 43 000 megawatts of installed generating capacity.
Matjila said while its initial partnership is with the Mozambican electricity utility, Eskom will be talking to JSE-listed Sasol as part of a plan to use the existing Sasol pipeline to get an equivalent 600 Megawatts gas into South Africa.
“That is over and above using liquid natural gas, which we can transport in ornaments. Sasol is an important partner, but we will also be engaging [with other partners],” he said.
Power grid under pressure
Matjila, who was accompanied by Eskom’s Board Chairperson Zola Tsotsi, said while Eskom had managed to increase the number of household connections by just over 200 000 to 5.2 million, the grid remained under pressure because of an ageing infrastructure.
He said 60% of Eskom’s power units were older than the design requirement of 30 years, and that maintaining them required specialised engineers, which he said was a costly exercise.
He said a 5-point recovery plan, Eskom’s main strategy to keep the utility sustainable, had been put in place to ensure that power generation was set on a sustainable path.
He said that the power grid needed to run at a supply minimum of 80% at all times, and that would help Eskom tackle challenges related to unplanned power outages.
Source : SAnews.gov.za