Cape Town – South Africa needs to make more use of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) to take some of the load off Eskom’s failing electricity grid, the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry said on Monday.

“The best way to help Eskom will be to find alternatives to electricity and we can do that by promoting the use of LPG for cooking and heating,” said Janine Myburgh, president of the chamber.

She pointed out that the biggest problem Eskom faced was the evening peak hour demand when the country turned on its electric stoves to cook the evening meal.

“This is where LPG can help, especially as the price of a 9kg cylinder of gas refill has dropped from over R200 to about R150. The scene is set for a really strong campaign to promote the use of LPG,” said Myburgh.

She said gas was more efficient and most chefs believed it was the best way to cook. She pointed out that gas was also a lot safer than the paraffin stoves which caused so many shack fires and the loss of life and possessions.

Gas could be used in industry as a replacement for electrity in the baking, canning and food industry.

READ: Eskom gags contractors from speaking to the media

“In fact, it can be used in most industries that require process heat,” said Myburgh.

She warned, however, that SA would need more than LPG to solve the energy problem.

“We need to combine the promotion of LPG with other measures such as the introduction of time zones in an attempt to spread the peak hour loads,” she said.

“The third thing SA can do is learn to use less electricity and what we do use we must use more efficiently. That means more efficient lighting and electrical equipment like fridges and LED Television sets.”

Myburgh said the fourth thing that could be done was for SA to generate some of its own electricity and to feed the surplus back into the grid for others to use.

“This is now allowed in Cape Town and the cost of electricity from solar panels can compete with retail electricity tariffs. In two years it will be a lot cheaper than municipal electricity so solar panels are a good investment,” she said.

“If a business generates, say, just 20% of its own electricity, it will reduce its own power bill and help others and the country at the same time.”