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Neill_58630 Jun 30

Powering Africa Summit - Discussion Boardroom - Generation Zone: Gas

Powering Africa Summit  - Discussion Boardroom - Generation Zone: Gas  image
In a world where the energy market is moving towards a more renewable one, where does natural gas fit into Africa's energy mix? Key stakeholders from the region discussed the challenges and opportunities ahead.
Pragmatism is being weighed up against overall climate change ambitions in Africa’s energy matrix at present. The consensus is that the role of gas needs to be moved from the ‘taboo’ column to the ‘opportunity’ column, in order to achieve universal electrification, in as clean a way as possible.

Climate change goals, pressures and responsibilities have created a narrative where the potential of gas sometimes conflicts with hopes around hydro, wind or solar. But with many countries falling far short of baseload power requirements, the continental population set to rise, and intermittency concerns going hand in hand with these renewable sources; gas needs to be a supporting catalyst.

“Ultimately, the most important and urgent strategy has to be to end energy poverty,” affirmed Nadja Haakansson, MD for Africa at Siemens Energy. 

Haakansson has already seen her company focus on futureproofed gas turbines that indulge hydrogen, with a view to running solely on hydrogen in years to come.

“We really need to overcome this taboo around gas in competition with renewables, as it could really hinder Africa’s energy sector development, and overall electrification efforts,” she added.

The transition to renewables will take time that much of the continent doesn’t have. As long as finance models enable it, gas can be the solution to help fill that gap: to stabilise and strengthen baseload powers of countries; to make the investment landscape more viable; to encourage energy innovation and technologies; to fulfil initiatives such as those set out by the Clean Cooking Alliance; and to finally replace fossil fuel usage across the board.

Andy Calitz, Secretary General of the International Gas Union said: “If you look at electricity generation in the UK, 48% of the makeup is gas. Less than 10% is wind. And the lights are on in the UK because that gas keeps the system together.” 

While the renewables transition finds its feet at differing speeds across Africa, natural gas can play the same role in Africa too.