In a first for South African property development, Southdowns Estate, in Irene, Centurion, is supplying its entire complex with natural gas.
Southdowns Management Services MD Jack Prentice tells Engineering News that, after finding out that energy and chemicals group Sasol’s pipeline from Secunda to Rosslyn runs within 1,5 km of the estate, the company approached Sasol for permission to set up a customer meter station and the two parties have now concluded a ten-year contract.
The Gas Company will manage and maintain the pipeline and also provide education on, and promote the safe use of, gas for all Southdowns residents.
The pipeline was designed by gas engineering company VGI, and 10,5 km of pipeline has been installed throughout the estate. Southdowns is the first residential development in South Africa to
make available such a facility, which cost about R11-million to install.
“We are now connected to the main gas pipeline and we are busy connecting the households. Before the pipeline came into play, we had to use temporary installations, which we are busy phas- ing out,” says Prentice.
Currently, there are 60 to 70 households running on natural gas.
Prentice adds that a customer meter station was built to service the 200-ha Southdowns precinct, consisting of a shopping centre, a residential estate of about 700 units, a college, a sports and arts exchange complex, and a gym.
He points out that the challenges with natural gas include lay- ing the pipeline, conducting an environmental-impact assessment and the complexity of running the pipeline across private properties or roads.
“In our case, we were fortunate because we had to lay it largely on our own property and had to cross 2 km of the adjoining farm- land.”
He states that natural gas is cheaper and more reliable than liquefied petroleum gas, which is linked to the oil price, is heavier than air and is more prone to igniting.
“Unlike other fossil fuels, natural gas emits lower levels of potentially harmful by-products into the air. Southdowns residents will not have to order, store or change gas bottles and, at current prices, natural gas costs almost half the price of bottled gas. “Each home is fitted with a gas meter, which will be read every month, and residents will be charged accordingly,” says Prentice.
He notes that residents can also use gas-powered appliances, safe in the knowledge that they are no longer subject to escalating electricity tariffs.
“Southdowns residents are not the only ones who will benefit from the gas installation. “The use of gas in residential applications assists Eskom in controlling maximum demand on the grid, as residential demand generally peaks during this period.”
Residents at the estate have a variety of gas products from which to choose, including radiant heaters, braais, cookers, fireplaces, lighting, and under-floor and water heating options.