Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa CEO Sabine Dall’Omo said gas as an industry had the potential to unlock a new wave of industrial development in Africa, but it could still take some time for this to happen.
“As we went into the assessment of establishing a gas industry in South Africa, the gas price dropped significantly and all of a sudden there were new input costs we needed to consider. I think gas-to-power will definitely go ahead, although it has been delayed for now.”
Dall’Omo said that while foreign investors were seeking investment opportunities in the gas industry elsewhere in the world, it was vital to keep the momentum about gas going in South Africa and to continue to encourage investors to remain interested. She said Siemens was not overly concerned about the delays. “We will see it through.”
“South Africa has a good setting to have renewables as a baseload. The power mix could come from coal-fired power stations, ideally modern, upgraded ones like Kusile and Medupi, and a significant chunk of renewables for the peak, and then have gas-fired power stations overlaying this as a portion of the base, with the rest available for peaking,” suggested Dall’Omo.
Unlike nuclear and coal-fired plants, gas-fired power plants can be quickly powered up and down to meet fluctuating demand, she says.
Open-cycle gas turbine power stations can be built in less than two years and combined cycle plants in less than three years. A 600 MW gas-fired combined cycle power plant can produce its first power within 18 months.