Technology can assist with lowering carbon emissions

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Mineral Resources and Energy Deputy Minister, Dr Nobuhle Nkabane, says South Africa must find technological solutions that can maximise the usage of minerals such as coal with “minimal carbon” emissions.

She was speaking at the 17th South African Geophysical Association conference held at Sun City on Tuesday.

“As the DMRE [Department of Mineral Resources and Energy], we have emphasised moving from higher carbon emission towards lower carbon emissions as opposed to completely abandoning coal.

“Technologies such as carbon capture usage and storage must be explored fully and so must mechanisms by which we could mix fossil energy sources with clean sources such as ammonia," she said.

Nkabane highlighted the current historic surge in South African coal exports as an indicator of the mineral’s growing value.

“What is an astonishing irony which smacks of the highest levels of hypocrisy is that some of the countries who are funding us to move from coal to renewable energy …are in fact lobbying to buy our coal in the wake of the energy crunch they are undergoing following the damages to the Nord Stream 1 pipeline and the geopolitical conflict in general.

“As a country we surely need to highlight such double agendas because we will not allow a neo-colonial hood-wink resulting into our own underdevelopment,” she said.

The Deputy Minister emphasised that less developed countries need to make considered choices for their Just Energy Transitions.

“[If] not handled properly by the countries of the South in general and Africa in particular, we risk aggravating energy poverty in amongst economies and communities that have not even benefitted from the previous energy transition that caused climate change.”

The Deputy Minister emphasised, however, that South Africa remains committed to the Paris Agreement – an international climate change treaty.

“In this regard we have submitted our Nationally Determined Contributions which demonstrate a high ambition to partake in the global agenda to arrest climate change. Our goal is net zero emission by 2050 as globally resolved. On whether or not that is possible, we are guided by industry experts such as yourselves on what is technologically possible,” she said.

Turning to the exploration of oil and gas, Nkabane said this remains a key area for South Africa – especially in the context of the current energy crisis in Europe.

“We have set ourselves a target to attract at least 5% of global exploration budgets because we believe we have a lot to offer on our mineral endowment. [Exploration] remains an important pillar, particularly in the context of the geopolitical events taking place in Europe and Asia affecting supply and demand of energy sources such as oil and gas.

“We do believe that exploration on oil and gas amongst others will steam ahead, and that collectively we need to communicate the benefits of our mineral resources and debunk and myth that we are not concerned with environmental degradation,” she said. –