AFRICANGLOBE – The largest power plant running exclusively on gas engines on the African continent, and the first of its kind in South Africa, was inaugurated at the Sasolburg, Free State site of petrochemicals company Sasol earlier this month.
The electricity produced by the 140 MW plant will be used by Sasol’s chemicals factory next to the plant, with about half of the production being fed into South Africa’s national grid.
“This plant is a significant milestone for Sasol, as we begin to ease our load on the national grid and contribute to our own energy efficiency targets,” Sasol Senior Group Executive Lean Strauss said in a statement marking the plant’s inauguration on 10 July.
According to Sasol, the plant, which has consistently been producing above its operating capacity at 152 MW since commissioning in December 2012, will allow the company to generate 60% of its own power capacity, easing its reliance on the country’s grid.
It will also enable Sasol to eventually reduce its CO2 emissions by a further one-million tonnes per annum.
“This is a very successful project for Sasol New Energy, below budget and ahead of schedule,” said Sasol New Energy MD Henri Loubser. The plant was completed three months ahead of schedule and almost 20% below budget, with 500 jobs created during construction and 44 permanent jobs created in Sasolburg.
According to Sasol, gas-powered plants require less time to build and install, taking between 20 to 30 months, opposed to the 40 to 50 months required for a coal-power plant and 60 to 80 months for a nuclear plant.
Sasol’s new power plant is being operated and maintained by Finnish energy company Wartsila, which built and installed the plant’s gas engines, under a three-year agreement which includes the training of Sasol New Energy staff members.
Wartsila, along with Sasol and Mozambican state power company Electricidade de Moçambique, are also involved in the construction of a similar gas-fuelled power power plant in Ressano Garcia in Mozambique.
Sasol said this project was on schedule to start generating electricity as early as the second quarter of 2014.