Eskom considers gas as an alternative

With its coal-fired plants planned for retirement from 2050, it’s necessary for Eskom to consider accessing natural gas resources to add capacity and build cheap power plants in a short period of time.

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This was according to Eskom senior manager (electricity pricing) Deon Conradie who told delegates to the Agri Northern Cape congress that the company has been looking at natural gas for power generation since the early 1990s. “We currently own and operate over 2 000MW of diesel-powered gas turbine power plants. Gas-fired power generation can be brought online cost effectively and in a relatively short timespan to anchor the development of a gas industry in the SADC region.

The department of energy and the National Planning Commission also support the development of gas-powered plants to replace coal,” said Conradie. Eskom is one of the top 20 utility companies in the world with a maximum generation capacity of 41 194MW.
Eskom generates approximately 95% of the electricity used in South Africa and 40% used in Africa.

It operates 27 power stations with 4,65 million direct customers, and additional power stations are being built to meet the rising electricity demand in SA. “This represents a total budgeted expenditure of more than R450 billion over a six-year planning period until 2016/2017,” said Conradie. The increasing demand will see Eskom continue to operate with a low reserve margin between now and 2016. 

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