Green light for new Coega power station

Thousands of jobs to be created through multi-billion rand IDZ investment

A new mega-project that will create thousands of jobs at the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) has been announced.

It comprises a multibillionrand power station using gas as part of the government’s strategy to make the Eastern Cape a national energy centre.

The announcement was made by the Department of Energy this week at the South African Gas Options Conference in Cape Town.

Officials said the 1 000MW plant would create 8 400 jobs during the construction phase and 200 permanent jobs when operations began.

No timing was given for the start and finish of the project, which was described as requiring a multibillion-rand investment.

IDZ spokesman Simlindile Manqina said the job tally was based on research carried out by the provincial government.

Coega Development Corporation (CDC) energy projects business development manager Sandisiwe Ncemane said: “This project will allow the IDZ to become a diverse energy user, in conjunction with building the local energy sector.

“The project will also serve as a significant source of socioeconomic growth.”

Of other benefits, Ncemane said: “The implementation of this project will allow greater energy independence, which will boost South Africa’s gross domestic product and help create direct and indirect jobs.”

The CDC had already proved its readiness for gas-to-power programmes and had established the IDZ as the ideal location for both renewable and conventional energy, he said.

In the build-up to the project’s approval, the corporation had conducted a pre-feasibility study under the guidance of the Department of Energy Affairs and this had confirmed the suitability and viability of a power station using gas to be located at the IDZ.

The Coega IDZ is already home to the 342MW Dedisa Peaking Power Plant (PPP), designed for conversion to being operated by gas. The PPP began operations last year.

“The power generated by the gas-to-power station will satisfy the bulk of regional electricity requirements, assisting with the stabilisation of electricity in the region,” Ncemane said.

Based on Eskom figures, 1 000MW can provide power for the equivalent of 65 000 homes. Provincial Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism MEC Sakhumzi Somyo said the decision to build the power station was in line with the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) which included using gas as one of the pillars for the reindustrialisation of the provincial economy.

It also set the scene for the Eastern Cape becoming a dynamic hub for the gas services sector.

Somyo believed the Coega IDZ was the perfect gateway for the gas industry as it had the newest port in the country at Ngqura, and was designed to easily accommodate a liquid petroleum gas project.

The MEC said: “Coega has shown its ability to support and manage mega-projects, ensuring they are delivered on time, at the right quality, within budget and in a way that realises government’s socioeconomic objectives.”

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