If households were to use liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), this would have a positive impact on electricity demand during peak times, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Safety Association of Southern Africa (LPGSASA) CEO Kevin Robertson says.
From a domestic perspective, the peak demand periods are early mornings, late afternoons and evenings, when families use energy for cooking, as well as water and spatial heating – especially during the colder months; switching to LPG would make more electricity available for commercial and industrial requirements, he explains.
Moreover, Robertson adds that the World LPG Association states that there are more than 1 000 applications of LPG and that millions of people use LPG in applications across the commercial business, industry, transportation, farming, power generation, cooking, heating and recreation sectors.
Robertson further explains that, as the LPG industry is growing due to the product being highly efficient, versatile and safe, it is attracting investors who see opportunities to capitalise on its growth.
“Unfortunately, not all of these investors are cognisant or concerned about the safety requirements of the industry. As such, they tend to disregard the need for ongoing compliance with the regulations and standards covering the industry and, therefore, place other industry players and consumers at risk,” he points out.
Illegal installations of LPG applications and the distribution of noncertified, and potentially hazardous, cylinders, appliances and equipment result in safety standards being disregarded and safety being compromised.
If an installation is not properly undertaken, several problems could occur, such as a leak in the installation, the cylinder being placed too close to a source of ignition or an appliance being installed indoors, when it is designed for outdoor use only, he explains. Subsequently, this could lead to property damage or injury to people.
As a result, the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) stipulates which cylinders and appliances may be distributed and sold in South Africa, and outlines which regulations and standards companies and practitioners need to comply with to be deemed competent to install LPG appliances and equipment.
Registration of Practitioners
Robertson elaborates that, in terms of the OHSA and the Pressure Equipment Regulations to which Section 44 of that Act refer, any LPG installation may be carried out only by a registered practitioner.
To be registered, potential practitioners must undergo training, which is carried out under the mandate of the Department of Labour (DoL) by the LPGSASA. The candidates take an exam and they must obtain 80% or more for every module. If they achieve this, they are issued with a temporary licence, he explains.
On receipt of the licence, candidates undertake several installations under the direct guidance of a suitably qualified and experienced mentor, he adds.
The candidates then submit a documented portfolio of evidence, including photographic evidence of complete installations and the Certificate of Conformity of the installation signed by the mentor.
If the temporary installer is deemed competent after the portfolio has been assessed, the LPGSASA notifies the South African Qualification and Certification Committee for Gas Installers and Gas Practitioners (SAQCC Gas), which then issues a permanent licence to the installer, Robertson adds.
SAQCC Gas is a body mandated by the DoL to ensure competency of all gas practitioners, who also have to undergo refresher training every three years to ensure ongoing competency.
Although the gas industry is constantly evolving in South Africa, we are still focusing on the basic uses of LPG and not on all the opportunities that this gas presents,” Robertson concludes.