The new energy unit of petrochemicals group Sasol has awarded a contract to engineering group Foster Wheeler to complete a feasibility study for a gas-fired power generation plant at Sasolburg, using gas engines with an open-cycle electrical output capacity of about 140 MW.
The feasibility study, which is likely to be premised, in part, on gas piped in from Mozambique, is scheduled to be completed before year-end.
Depending on the outcome of the study, it is anticipated that the project will be taken to the Sasol board for approval during the first half of 2011.
The study follows on from the development of 280 MW of new gas-fired power capacity at Secunda, in Mpumalanga. That project cost R2,5-billion and Sasol has set 200 MW aside for sale to Eskom.
The JSE-listed group states that the Sasolburg project will raise its electricity self-sufficiency to 840 MW, or 60% of its overall power consumption. It also forms part of a broader plan within the Sasol group to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions and to bolster power self-sufficiency in light of South Africa’s tightening electricity supply/demand balance.
No value has been attributed to the Foster Wheeler contract, which comprises a feasibility study and capital cost estimate for the overall plant, as well as a recommendation of a preferred gas-engine supplier.
It is understood that part of the new Sasolburg capacity will be used to replace an aged 70-MW coal-fired plant, which would be retired after 55 years of operation. But it is unlikely that any of the capacity will be sold onto Eskom.
Sasol is, however, interrogating a range of other electricity-related projects in order to contribute to mitigating what could be a consolidated national shortfall of 1 500 MW between 2011 and 2016, ahead of the introduction of new Eskom base-load capacity.
Some of these initiatives could take the form of renewable energy projects.