Increased use of LPG could save SA ‘billions’ – Kaya Gas

If 1.2-million households in South Africa converted to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) it would save the country some 55 000 MW of electricity every five years, Kaya Gas MD George Tatham said this week.

“Increased use of LPG would save Eskom billions of rand, as fewer new power stations would be required,” he stated at a conference on LPG supply in Southern Africa.

Tatham said that if all households were to convert to LPG for cooking and heating it would save at least 3 700 MW, which almost equals the output of a Medupi-size conventional power station in a year and if all urban informal households converted to LPG, power savings would exceed the output of such a power station.

Tatham said the LPG potential in South Africa was considerable and that it could replace electricity in all domestic and small commercial operations within the next three to five years.

“If successfully done, it could lower electricity consumption, see a boom in domestic use, and lead to fewer conventional power stations, less of a burden on taxpayers and healthier lives for those in informal settlements and of a lower socio economic stance,” he stated.

The increased use of LPG would lower wood, coal, paraffin and kerosene use, which would translate to other benefits.

These include the preservation of South Africa’s woodlands and coal fields, lower carbon dioxide emissions, increased availability of jet fuel, as more paraffin production would be diverted to the production thereof, as well as improved health and safety owing to less shack fires caused by paraffin.

“Bottled gas cooks and heats more efficiently and extending its availability to large numbers of people is much cheaper than the costly infrastructure required to provide electricity. On average, LPG’s price a litre is a third cheaper. It therefore offers the quickest boost to the standard of living of the poorest sector of our population,” Tatham pointed out.

Yet, despite these advantages domestic use of LPG on any significant scale in South Africa is nonexistent compared with other countries at a similar stage of economic development, such as Morocco, Indonesia, India and Brazil where LPG is used extensively.

“When looking at these countries, it is clear that LPG or natural gas should be the main thermal fuel in all domestic, small commercial and industrial applications. This could also be possible in South Africa if we were to receive permission to employ fracking to access what could be enormous shale-gas resources in the Karoo,” Tatham stated.

However, he warned that should South Africa follow the same route as these countries, some lessons had to be learnt. Subsidising LPG prices would not be a sustainable option in South Africa, as this would burden State coffers and lead to abuse by the rich, as was the case in Morocco and Indonesia.

By: Idéle Esterhuizen
15th March 2012

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