South Africa will have to redirect coal workers into new jobs in the renewable energy sector, such as construction, electrical engineering and information technology (IT). (Delwyn Verasamy)
The department of mineral resources and energy has expressed optimism about the discovery of 3.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas in Amersfoort, Mpumalanga, by Australian company Kinetiko Energy.
“Gas is considered a transition fuel globally and provides the flexibility necessary to run our current electricity generation system in a cost-effective manner,” it said in a statement.
The department says gas is one of the resources needed to expand the country’s electricity generation capacity.
“It will assist with baseload energy required to strengthen South Africa’s energy security and propel the quest for industrialisation that will bring about growth and development,” it said.
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has often advocated gas as an alternative energy source to coal.
The exploration comes as the department is reviewing its Integrated Resource Plan of 2019 — a policy for electricity generation.
The department said it anticipates that the new version will adopt an energy-mix approach that will include gas, among other technologies.
On Monday, Kinetiko Energy, a subsidiary of Afro Energy, signed a non-binding term sheet with the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC) to jointly develop what it claims is South Africa’s largest onshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) project.
The venture will see the delivery of 50 megawatts, growing to 500MW, gas-equivalent energy.
Kinetiko chief executive Nick de Blocq said in a statement that “this is one of the most significant and exciting moments in Kinetiko’s corporate journey to date in South Africa”.
“This is a step change in the scale of the company’s development and represents a national project to support South Africa’s transition to cleaner, reliable, affordable energy.
Lesego Chepape is a climate reporting fellow, funded by the Open Society Foundation for South Africa.