Centre opened to reduce greenhouse gasses in SA

Friday, March 27, 2009
By: 
Nthambeleni Gabara

Johannesburg - A Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere in South Africa, was unveiled in Johannesburg on Friday.

The centre is currently the only technology available to make deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, while still using fossil fuels and much of current energy infrastructure.

The centre will capture the carbon dioxide that would otherwise be emitted to the atmosphere and store it in deep geological formations.

The ultimate goal of the research centre is to demonstrate this technology in South Africa by means of a carbon dioxide injection experiment and ultimately a demonstration plant by 2020.

Minerals and Energy Minister, Buyelwa Sonjica said carbon capture and storage was a new technology for the mitigation of greenhouse gases which was being propelled forward globally.

The Minister said while South Africa was a coal-based country, major coal producers and users have the vision to appreciate the part that carbon capture and storage can help their industries in future.

"It is essential that South Africa accesses worldwide advances and co-operates other experts in the field," she said.

According to the Minister, the project is scheduled to be completed in mid 2010.

Norwegian Minister for Environment and International Development, Erik Solheim said energy use was on the increase and that the proportion supplied by coal, oil and gas would still be around 80 percent in 2030.

"This means that we must not only develop renewable energy technologies and implement far-reaching energy efficiency measures, but we must also develop technology that limits greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.

"Both approaches are possible and rich countries must be at the forefront of technology development as well as emission abatement," he said.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) described the centre as one of the most promising options for mitigating emissions in the longer term.

However, it could not be a replacement for taking actions which increase energy efficiency or maximise the use of renewable or other less-carbon-intensive forms of energy.

South Africa emits over 400 million tones of carbon dioxide per year. Of those emissions, approximately 60 percent are captured and therefore potentially available for carbon capture and storage.

The success of the centre in South Africa will depend on the degree of confidence the scientific community has in the country's potential for carbon dioxide storage forecasts that global energy demand will rise by 45 percent by 2030 unless the world change course in climate and energy policy.

The global average temperature may rise by as much as 6 degrees Celsius.