Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  17 Nov 2008

POWER SUPPLY: Call on Gas Development


Recent Western Cape Business News

IT was amazing that the Government had not set up a special task force to fast track the development of a gas industry, says Gerald Wolman, outgoing president of the Cape Town Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

He said the use of off-shore gas or coal bed methane in industry and power generation would save foreign exchange at a time when the trade deficit had soared to more than R7 billion.

Speaking at the Chamber’s AGM he said the importing of machinery for Eskom and diesel for its gas turbine plants had contributed to the balance of payments problem.

“It is becoming clearer every month that the electricity crisis is costing South Africa dearly and that the rising electricity tariffs are just one aspect of the real cost of the decision to block the building of new power stations and the failure to properly maintain the electricity infrastructure.”

 He said one of the solutions was gas and stressed that this was not wishful thinking. The gas was available now, especially methane from Botswana.

“There are a number of ways in which the gas can be used. It can, firstly be used to generate electricity and earn carbon credits in the process. It can be used as a primary fuel for heating in industry and this will immediately reduce the demand for electricity.

“It is not generally known but a few years ago - before there was a crisis – Eskom approached a number of major industries and persuaded them to stop using heavy furnace oil for heating and to use electricity instead. Well, most of those industries could switch to gas and save electricity.

“So gas can make more electricity and it can also save electricity. And it will save precious foreign exchange. In the circumstances it is amazing that the government has not set up a special task force to fast track the development of a gas industry,” Wolman said.

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