Energy transition remains the greatest uncertainty for the power sector

By Nomvuyo Tena

At the ongoing Enlit Africa conference, the energy transition in Africa and solutions to scale up Africa’s energy systems remained at the forefront.

As Africa balances its need for more access to power with the global drive for a just transition to a clean energy future, a combination of renewables and gas power on the continent could lead to significant emissions reduction while delivering reliable, affordable, and sustainable power.

Although approximately 600 million Africans remain without access to reliable energy, the demand for which is expected to increase alongside growing populations, Africa has made significant progress in recent decades towards addressing the energy challenges the continent is facing.

Nosizwe Dlengezele, regional sales executive for GE Gas Power sub-Saharan Africa, said, “The energy transition remains the greatest uncertainty for the power sector today – the need to simultaneously balance affordability, reliability, and sustainability. Gas will play a critical role in the energy transition by complementing the renewables growth and supporting grid reliability.”

Gas is not only increasingly abundant and affordable, but it offers the opportunity of conversions toward net-zero goals through hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation, and sequestration (CCUS) technologies.

Natural gas-fired generators have the lowest CO2 emissions of all fossil power generation fuels—a natural gas-fired combined cycle plant has roughly 67% of the CO2 emissions of a similarly-sized coal plant, and lower emissions levels for other pollutants such as mercury, NOx, SOx and particulate matter. For African countries reliant on coal power, the growth of high efficiency combined cycle gas-fired power generation will support both coal-to-gas transition and accelerate renewables penetration by enhancing the reliability and stability of the energy grid.

“We need to create an energy environment in Africa that fosters industrialisation while meeting global and country climate change targets. For GE, gas and renewables is the most viable solution to make substantive reductions in emissions quickly,” states Dlengezele.

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