South Africa could deploy power barges using gas to generate electricity to help overcome chronic supply shortages, a senior government official said on Tuesday.
Under the proposal, one of 170 submissions sent to the government after it requested ideas for a gas-to-power programme, power generating ships or barges would dock at ports and supply electricity to the national grid.
Africa’s most advanced economy is struggling to keep the lights on as rolling power cuts are implemented almost daily by power utility Eskom to save the national grid from collapse.
“Power barges are a serious option, definitely yes,” Ompi Aphane, deputy director general for energy planning at the department of energy told journalists in parliament.
“We would definitely want to see an interim solution in the very short term, in other words within months, because that is very critical to ameliorate the load shedding that we have.”
Aphane said the government was looking at all solutions, including piping or importing liquefied natural gas with the aim of generating an extra 3 000 megawatts (MW) of power to the national installed generating capacity of 42 000 MW.
The government would issue a tender for its gas-to-power project before the end of the year, Aphane said, adding the government wanted a rapid jump in power to the grid.
He said although the government was keen to take advantage of lower global gas prices and kick-start the development of gas infrastructure in South Africa, it was wary of attracting big players that would dominate the value chain.
South Africa is also fast-tracking renewable energy projects that will add about 1 000 MW of power to its ailing grid.
Eskom expects two of its long-delayed coal-fired power plants, Medupi and Kusile, to be fully operational by 2021, adding a combined 9,000 megawatts to the grid.