Can LNG be a Supporting Part of SA’s Future Energy Mix?

by Media Xpose

There is an intense discussion taking place around a future-proof energy strategy for South Africa. Other energy sources need to be explored and further researched to better understand how advancements in alternatives like gas will affect the optimal energy mix. Incorporating Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) into a company’s energy approach can mean a major increase in efficiency by minimising maintenance downtime as well as boosting production due to having a continuous, stable supply of energy. It has become a necessity for big industries to reduce emissions due to the carbon tax which was recently introduced. Instead of racing to register for carbon offset projects, companies using LNG as an alternative to heavy carbon-emitting fuels can enjoy less taxation and the benefits of a greener reputation in the market.

The Real Deal

Is LNG a “fly by night” option as some have claimed? Japan is one of many countries where the answer would be no! LNG has a 50-year long history with that country, which has contributed to stable energy supply and sustainable growth. LNG helped to transform Japan’s energy system, which 5 decades ago was reliant on oil and coal before nuclear power was developed. In the United States, over 110 LNG facilities are operating to perform a variety of services. Can South Africa take a page out of their books?

Companies using LNG as an alternative to heavy carbon-emitting fuels can enjoy less taxation and the benefits of a greener reputation in the market.

While many industries are utilising solar and wind, there are significant drawbacks to relying solely on one energy source. For instance, should the weather conditions turn out to be a period of cloud cover or rain, this would impact solar’s ability to generate power. Not to mention the daily limitation of no power generation during dark hours. LNG can run as a complementary source to solar which is a hybrid solution that can stabilise and improve the outputs of a system. When companies take advantage of an energy mix, they can not only save and reduce emissions in the long-term but quickly bounce back when one power source fails (e.g., load-shedding) as well as coping during peak demand without incurring extra costs. This can be especially beneficial for temperature-sensitive operations like processes requiring cooling and heating.

Naturally the Better Alternative

With LNG on a site, there is the flexibility of using natural gas as a direct energy source with a high-efficiency level, especially for furnaces, burners, ovens, etc. It can also be used as the alternative energy source for backup power instead of diesel and a hybrid power solution whereby an operation uses solar and gas as primary energy sources. Furthermore, an LNG Facility onsite can provide heat recovery and fuel for vehicles as an additional benefit.

When it comes to the stability of supply in the South African market, we are contracting directly with fellow African gas-rich countries to supply LNG to end-users.” – Stephen Rothman, CEO LNG Hub

Rather than being the antidote to solve all South Africa’s energy “ailments,” LNG instead can be the natural choice amongst a combination of hybrid energy solutions. It is becoming more popular and accessible for large-power users to implement an energy mix to support their system rather than relying on one source of power.

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