SA ready to test carbon storage 'by 2017'

2012-05-14 08:44 by Anja Reitz

SOUTH Africa is likely to be ready to test-inject carbon dioxide into underground storage cavities from 2017 in a bid to determine whether "carbon capture and storage" technology is viable, the head of the South African Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage, Tony Surridge, said on Monday.

But the technology is expensive — a 2009 report in the peer-review journal Science indicated a carbon price of $60 a ton was required to make capture and storage competitive, with this corresponding to an increase in electricity prices of about 6 US cents per kilowatt-hour (based on typical coal-fired power plant emissions of 0,9kg of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour).

The technology involves the capture of carbon dioxide that would otherwise be emitted to the atmosphere and injecting it to be stored in deep geological formations. It 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.

The Cabinet endorsed a carbon capture and storage "road map" last week that set out what had yet to be done if SA is to use the technology to reduce the 450-500-million tons of greenhouse gases it emits each year. South Africa has conditionally pledged to reduce its emissions "trajectory", compared to business as usual, by 34% in 2020, and 42% by 2025. It is one of the world’s 15 largest emitters, and the largest in Africa.

Frost and Sullivan energy analyst Cornelis van de Waal said once the usable space available for carbon dioxide storage had been determined, South Africa would have to weigh up the costs, especially as infrastructure to transport the gas would probably have to be built.

South Africa is set to introduce carbon taxation in the 2013-14 tax year.

Mr Surridge said the country was "in the planning stages" of test injection, with a basic atlas of possible sites showing "theoretical" capacity to store 150-million gigatons, with 98% of that in depleted off-shore oil and gas wells.

According to the road map, South Africa should have a capture and storage demonstration plant by 2020 and a commercial plant by 2025.


Source: BusinessDay by Siseko Njobeni and Sue Blaine (08 May 2012)

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