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Speakers explore process heat supply alternatives

20th May 2024

By: Tasneem Bulbulia

Senior Contributing Editor Online


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With South Africa facing an imminent gas supply cliff, and the need to decarbonise becoming increasingly imperative, industrial gas users are facing considerable challenges and may need to explore alternative solutions for process heat supply.

This was outlined by speakers during EE Business Intelligence’s ‘Innovating process heat supply: Power to heat and thermal storage’ webinar, on May 20.

EE Business Intelligence MD Chris Yelland pointed out that process heat represented a large share of industrial consumers’ final energy demand and was still largely supplied by fossil fuels.

However, Industrial Gas Users Association – Southern Africa (Igua-SA) executive director Jaco Human warned that the country’s supplier of gas, Sasol, had confirmed that the country was heading for a gas supply cliff in the next 30 months.

He emphasised that bold, but considered decisions were needed to invest in gas energy security expeditiously.

Human said natural gas transitionary feedstock was underpinning the country’s decarbonisation journey.

Touching on several solutions that could be pursued, Human said that the quickest, least risk of these to manage the country’s gas supply were transition modelling, State-risk assumption; Eskom power procurements decisions; and industry aggregation.

Yelland pointed out that these gas supply challenges, coupled with increasing decarbonisation pressures, were causing alternative solutions to gain traction.  

In addition to traditional alternatives such as biomass or electric boilers, solutions such as thermal energy storage offered considerable technical and economic benefits to industrial users, he posited.

Yelland highlighted that these would also enable access to renewable energy sources, reducing Scope 2 emissions for the industrial sector.

Thermal energy storage provider Lumenion co-CEO Dr Maria Vasconcelos highlighted that process heat supply for thermal energy storage enabled decarbonisation and access to predictable, and in many cases, competitive energy prices.

Presenting the company’s thermal energy storage technology, she highlighted that this system consisted of industry-proven components andwas easily scalable.

Moreover, she averred that the company’s solution offered a highly modular and robust steel-based design that could be manufactured using local contact.

Meanwhile, Siemens Energy Brazil EAD Heat Decarbonisation Solutions’ Thiago Martins Wilman emphasised that heat electrification solutions necessitated a well-thought-out and holistic approach for successful application – it was not merely about the technology.

Rather, he said, discerning the most appropriate technology was merely a part of the entire picture, with a typical heat electrification project requiring a multidisciplinary approach.

Wilman added that every customer would have their own reality, and there would not be a one-size-fits-all answer to the problems.

He highlighted that the solution was key to success.

Wilman explained that understanding the overall solution would show where the real bottlenecks were, and provided a reliable and accurate assessment of the best setup for each use-case.

Mpact group energy manager Rosalind Dos Santos touched on future considerations, as the company explored unconventional thermal energy projects, including testing new technology now, in a modular approach, to be ready for a transitioning global economy.

There was also a need to consider how to fund these trials into new technologies while still delivering returns, she emphasised.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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