THE capture and storage of carbon dioxide (carbon dioxide) to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases is moving ahead, with Eskom and a South African company involved in a European Union (EU) project testing a technology used to capture the gas.
South Africa is one of the world’s top 15 greenhouse gas emitters, and the largest in Africa. The country has conditionally pledged to reduce its emissions "trajectory" by 34% in 2020 and 42% by 2025.
South Africa is likely to be ready to test-inject carbon dioxide into underground storage cavities in South Africa from 2017 and build a storage demonstration plant by 2020.
"In South Africa, CSS (carbon capture and storage) is picking up momentum … we were always looking at South Africa on the storage side, now we’re also looking on the capture side," said Ecometrix Africa director Lodewijk Nell.
Carbon dioxide is typically captured from large industrial sources, compressed into liquid and injected into geological formations such as saline reservoirs, coal seams or depleted oil and gas fields.
Ecometrix and Eskom are participating in a European Commission project called Octavius, dedicated to the demonstration of capture technologies. The project is organising an international conference in Midrand, from February 13 to 15, to exchange knowledge on the technology and "reinforce" collaboration on this between South Africa and the EU.
The technology is expensive — a 2009 report in the peer-review journal Science indicated that a carbon price of $60 a ton was required to make capture and storage competitive.
One way of funding carbon capture and storage would be to trade carbon "credits" generated through projects on international carbon markets. The carbon credit price has dropped in recent years to less than $10/ton.
Mr Nell said South Africa’s publication of a CSS "road map" last year, that set out what had yet to be done if South Africa was to use the technology, was one of several indications that the technology was being considered seriously.
South Africa emitted 600-million tons of carbon dioxide in 2010. Its emissions are projected to reach 1,800-million tons by 2050 without any mitigation strategy.
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