On the third day of the African Energy Week (AEW) 2023 conference&exhibition, a thought-provoking session entitles King Coal is Back – Africa’s Future Clean Coal Industry shed light on the critical role of coal in Africa’s energy landscape.

The session commenced with a keynote address by Dr. Zwanani Titus Mathe, CEO of the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI). Dr. Mathe emphasized that coal would continue to be a part of South Africa’s energy mix, driven by the unique regional energy requirements. He also suggested the potential for collaboration with China and India and highlighted several clean coal solutions, including gasification and green ammonia.

Furthermore, Dr. Mathe echoed the sentiments expressed by South African Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe during his address at the opening session of AEW 2023 Strategic Program. Both emphasized that “energy security and climate change are interconnected aspects of the same challenge,” reinforcing the notion that coal will continue to be a part of the energy equation.

Following Dr. Mathe’s keynote, Dr. Lars Schernikau, an energy economist and strategic advisor at the independent commodities marketing company, HMS Bergbau AG, took the stage as the session’s moderator. Panelists included; Dr. Zwanani Titus Mathe, CEO of SANEDI; Lemogang Pitsoe, CEO of African Exploration Mining and Finance Corporation; Mpumelelo Mkhabela, Chairman&Director of Menar; and Dan Mashigo, General Manager of Primary Energy at Eskom.

The panelists and moderators initiated an in-depth dialogue about the lasting importance of coal in the energy mix and the imperative of achieving a Just Energy Transition. Schernikau began the conversation by underscoring the pivotal role coal continues to play in Africa’s energy context. “Despite the increasing worldwide emphasis on renewable energy, coal remains indispensable, particularly in regions experiencing rapid population growth,” said the moderator. According to projections, the population of Africa will reach 8 billion by the end of the century, which would cause a concurrent rise in energy demand.

Mathe expanded on his opening presentation, reminding the importance of investing in clean coal technologies alongside the promotion of renewable energy sources. He emphasized that a holistic approach is necessary to balance the transition and ensure that all energy sources are leveraged effectively. “While renewable energy is a key component of the transition to cleaner energy, it’s equally vital to consider and invest in clean coal technologies. These technologies can help maintain energy security while addressing environmental concerns,” said Mathe.

Mashigo echoed the significance of a diverse energy mix: “We need a comprehensive, integrated approach in South Africa, particularly when working towards a net-zero transition.” Mashigo pointed out that coal is a part of this mix and, when managed effectively alongside renewable sources, can play a crucial role in achieving a cleaner energy future.

Pitsoe discussed the importance of investing in research and development to create cleaner coal technologies. “Investing in research and development is essential to ensure the responsible use of coal while minimizing its environmental impact. “There is a growing need in Africa for advancements in clean coal technology and the exploration of innovative solutions for producing cleaner energy.”

Mkhabela pointed out that a lack of green technology and competition for national interests can pose significant challenges. “The key to successful and sustainable progress lies in reviewing agreements and understanding the terms and conditions of deals,” stressed Mkhabela. “By prioritizing energy security for the 6 million people still without access, African nations can make informed decisions and work toward a balanced transition that addresses both energy needs and environmental concerns,” he said.

Mkhabela concluded the session emphasizing the significance of investing in clean coal technology in South Africa: “We have some of the best research teams in the world here in South Africa and we are making progress towards carbon capture solutions.”

Organized in partnership with the African Energy Chamber, AEW 2023 is taking place from October 16-20 in Cape Town.

#AEW2023 takes place this week in Cape Town under a mandate to make energy poverty history by 2030. Keep following www.AECWeek.com for more exciting information and updates about Africa’s premier energy event.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Energy Chamber.