Energy Minister Dipuo Peters has challenged the gas industry to engage with the department when the public consultation for the second Integrated Resource Plan (IRP2010) gets under way.
“As the second round of public consultation regarding the IRP2010, is coming up, as government we need the sector to tell us if our targets and projections for the industry are below your aspirations, so that we can increase them,” Peters told delegates at the third annual natural gas conference, on Tuesday.
The public participation process, which was due to start on September 1, has been delayed “for a few weeks”.
Natural gas accounts for 3% in primary energy consumption and a 10% growth is projected within a decade.
Peters added that South Africa was committed to developing a gas industry that would feed into the energy mix, to ensure a security of energy supply.
The department is of the view that the establishment of a vibrant gas industry with a lively domestic and international trading mechanism depends on attracting credible investors with good business ethics.
Energy contributed about 15% towards the gross domestic product and in 2007 and 2008, rapid industrialisation and extensive electrification programmes resulted in electrical power shortage and compelled Eskom to instruct industry to reduce electricity consumption by 10%.
She added that while auditing the electricity distribution infrastructure of 20 municipalities, the department found that it would cost about R27-billion to renew the ageing and obsolete infrastructure.
However, South Africa reliance on fossil fuel as a primary energy souce continued, where coal-fired electricity generators provided 95% in electrical power while the balance was mainly derived from nuclear reactors.
“South Africa cannot overlook the emergence of such a threat to the security of energy supply, and that has accelerated the need for Eskom’s energy mix in seeking alternative primary energy sources such as natural gas, nuclear power and variety of renewable energy,” said Peters.
She announced that the department has set aside about R500-million to wet the appetite of consumers to convert to gas.
“We need to diversify the energy mix, so that we ensure that consumers use gas for cooking and heating which will lower our electricity consumption and make us more energy efficient.”