The role of gas in the energy transition
By diversifying its energy mix, and including natural gas, SA can look forward to significant benefits to the economy
Energy is essential to quality of life for billions of people. It lights, heats and cools homes and businesses. It transports and connects people, goods and services. It goes hand in hand with economic activity and development, enabling opportunities for a growing population looking to improve their quality of life.
SA is experiencing an electricity crisis. For SA to emerge from its economic depression, it needs root and branch transformation of its power systems and a cleaner energy mix. All efforts need to focus on addressing climate change and lowering emissions in line with the Paris Agreement.
Shell supports the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit the rise in the average global temperature well below 2°C. An important part of its strategy is to thrive during the energy transition, and it sees natural gas playing a vital role during the transition to a lower-carbon world.
The advantages of including natural gas in SA’s energy mix
Gas has an advantage in that it can be used in all sectors of the economy — power, transport, industry, and the built environment. It’s a solution for customers in difficult-to-decarbonise sectors such as construction, and the iron and steel industries. Switching to gas from coal in power generation can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.
SA’s geographic location lends itself to a successful transition to an energy mix that favours renewables, such as sun and wind. By diversifying its energy mix, and including natural gas as a reliable foundation partner with renewables, SA can look forward to significant benefits to the national economy through the provision of reliable energy to customers.
Time to adjust SA’s energy mix
SA’s 2019 integrated resource plan has laid out plans for a long-term diversification of the power mix by 2030, to reduce the energy sector’s carbon footprint while addressing current and future demand and ensuring a socioeconomically “just transition”. Renewables’ contribution, in the form of wind and solar, has grown from 2.5% to 6.2% of the electricity mix over the past five years. The contribution, however, is still notably below the global average of 9.4% and must be increased.
SA has abundant potential for renewable energy, but these systems are likely to come online only in the next few years. There’s an urgent need for an energy source that can answer the country’s immediate needs. This source also needs to be available and reliable over the longer term, for use when conditions are not ideal for wind and solar power generation. Gas-to-power can be more quickly implemented, and while not totally devoid of emissions, cuts the CO2 emissions produced by coal generation in half.
Decarbonising SA’s electricity grid is a huge challenge, but the risk in not moving away from coal, and not diversifying our energy mix, is greater.
Shell has an unwavering commitment to development in SA and looks forward to contributing to the country’s social and economic growth, and to the transformation of the energy mix in a positive way.
This article was paid for by Shell.
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