New energy minister to follow in predecessor's footsteps

Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi. (File photo: Nasief Manie)
Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi. (File photo: Nasief Manie)

Cape Town - Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi on Tuesday pledged her support for the 3.7 GW gas infrastructure development programme started by her predecessor.
    
Kubayi’s pledge took place during her opening address at the Gas to Power programme at the African Utility Week in Cape Town on Tuesday.

She apologised for being reticent on details of her energy plans, but said “more will be revealed by Friday” when she delivers her budget speech in Parliament.

“Over the past few months we have indicated our indication to launch gas infrastructure development though the Section 34 determination under the Electricity Regulation Act, in pursuit of an initial 3 700 MW of power plants,” she said.

“We also issued a preliminary information memorandum regarding the programme. As the Minister of Energy, I wish to reiterate my support for this programme and to assure you that we intend to proceed with the vision and policy objectives that we have outlined.

“The availability of natural gas as reliable combustible fuel and as an enabling source of electricity power supply to the South African economy will produce direct and indirect benefits for the South African economy as a whole, thus contributing to macro-economic stability and economic growth.”

Kubayi said the decline in production output for electricity intensive sectors such as the iron and steel, metals and machinery production sector has seen a major contraction of about 16% since 2008, while overall manufacturing output levels have declined by around 4% over this period.

“For context, this group is part of the 25% of Eskom-generated electricity consumed in the national economy,” she said.

“The preliminary outcomes of updated planning scenarios point to South Africa requiring installed generation capacity with high load factor, or base load, provided by a mix of technologies such as coal, regional hydro, nuclear and gas of around 45 to 55 GW for the next 30 to 40 years, while renewable power and gas-to-power could be applied to service the non-base load requirements.”

She said that natural gas is capable of providing more than just electrical power. “It can also provide direct heat and chemical feedstock for industrial processes, commercial and residential cooking and heating applications as well as an alternative fuel source for transportation purposes.

“Depending on the economics, water desalination capability from natural gas-to-power projects at coastal locations is also possible.

“Our gas strategy and vision must be viewed within the context of a wider government strategy to grow the economy and we have adopted the Nine Point Plan in that regard.”

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