Africa grapples with a pressing need to meet its growing energy demands. However, natural gas has emerged as a promising solution, offering the continent a path to address its power scarcity. With vast reserves capable of generating 400 GW in sub-Saharan Africa, it has the potential to reshape the energy landscape. Gas-to-power technology, a vital step in the energy transition, emits fewer carbon emissions and eliminates harmful gas flaring.
Day two of African Energy Week (AEW) 2023, the African Energy Chamber’s (AEC) premier energy event, featured a session entitled Powering Africa: Harnessing the Promise of Gas-to-Power, exploring the opportunities and challenges associated with leveraging natural gas for power generation in Africa.
“We are currently experiencing a major shift in the energy sector to cleaner sources of energy. Africa’s response should be inched on Africa’s natural gas that is able to generate electricity, said Olakunle Williams, CEO Tetracore, adding, “There is a need for much more gas-based investments that will help unlock gas resources.”
Africa is blessed with sizable recoverable natural gas reserves. These reserves, often found in close proximity to major population centers, provide a unique opportunity to harness domestic resources for power generation.
From an Angolan perspective, Manuel Barros, CEO of the Gas and Renewable Energy Business Unit, Sonangol noted: “We have an industrial plant being constructed and a new facility will be underway very soon which will be for the downstream industry for our fertilizer plants. So, this means that we are not only using gas for export but also trying to monetize it within the country.
Jérôme Paillat, Senior LNG Project Director – TotalEnergies Gas, Renewable & Power emphasized that Gas-to-power is an enabler to meet the gross demand in terms of electricity. “Electricity is the way people are going to consume power in the next few years so power is very important. Most of the electricity the growth will be driven by renewable but gas to power is very important,” he said.
Building the necessary infrastructure for gas-to-power projects requires substantial investments. Securing financing for pipelines, processing facilities and power plants is often a challenge.
“We need financing and infrastructure development. Next year we should be able to say we have a deal with companies and we are executing it. We need to stop wasting time and start working on these projects. As we indicated, natural gas is the main fuel for African energy transition so we need to stop wasting time,” explained, David Pappoe Jr, Executive Director, Energas West Africa Limited.
Many African countries have existing energy systems heavily reliant on coal, oil, or renewables. Integrating gas into the energy mix requires careful planning and coordination. Moreover, there is an opportunity to mix gas with other energy sources such as Hydrogen to reach net zero by 2050.
“I think the journey to decarbonization and realising agreements up to 2050 is a gradual process. With hydrogen blending with natural gas, we have that capacity [to reach target] and we are able to rely slightly less on gas that has higher emissions,” said Sujen Balakisson, Business Development Manager for the Southern and Eastern Africa region, Wärtsilä Energy Solution.
Making progress in addressing domestic and export gas utilization is Morocco. Pierre Raillard, Head of Gas Business and Morocco Country Director, Chariot Limited, provided insights into this. “We need to find a domestic component as much as the big projects. For example, the Moroccan onshore development we are working on financing and developing and hoping to find a final investment decision (FID) soon will anchor itself on the domestic component. We have a doubling anchoring on the local and export component.
#AEW2023 takes place this week in Cape Town under a mandate to make energy poverty history by 2030. Keep following www.aecweek.com for more exciting information and updates about Africa’s premier energy event.