Natural gas is acknowledged as the fuel for the 21st century, it is the cleanest fossil fuel. Natural gas is the fastest growing energy source, it will dominate the energy sector for the next 30 years (i.e. 2050). The world proven reserves in 2018 were 196.9 × 1012 m3, if we take 2018 gas consumption, this gas will take us another 51 years. The world natural gas reserves increased from 130.8 × 1012 m3 in 1998, to 170.2 × 1012 m3 in 2008, to 196.9 × 1012 m3 in 2018. The world gas reserves will keep increasing for both conventional and non-conventional gas (i.e. shale gas).
The world electricity production by source in 2018 was dominated by coal (38 %) and natural gas (23 %), while in South Africa more than 90 % of electricity is produced from coal. South Africa’s coal consumption was the highest in the world (70.7 %), even higher than China (58.2 %) and India (55.9 %), both of them the biggest consumer of coal in volumes, while South Africa natural gas consumption is very low (3 %). The South African government’s international climate change and carbon reduction commitments can be satisfied by increasing natural gas in the energy mix and reducing the coal and oil consumptions in the transition phase. The two sectors that natural gas can play a role in the energy mix are electricity production (i.e. gas to power) and transportation (i.e. GTL, CNG and LNG). This paper will discuss in detail how South Africa can substitute coal and oil with natural gas, particularly, electricity production and transportation to satisfy decarbonisation.