SA aims to bring country’s first carbon capture project online in 2023
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SOUTH Africa has started geological mapping at the country’s first carbon capture and storage (CCS) site, where it plans to inject vast quantities of carbon dioxide deep underground from 2023, a senior Council for Geoscience official says.
The project will be based around the town of Leandra, Mpumalanga province, in South Africa’s north east, a carbon emissions hot spot and home to several coal-fired power stations as well as Sasol’s Secunda coal-to-liquids fuel plant, the world’s largest.
Releasing around 470 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, South Africa is the continent’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, and coal provides the bulk of its electricity.
CCS is controversial, with environmentalists saying it risks becoming an excuse to continue burning fossil fuels, and could lead to neglect of nature’s own carbon capture system, forests, which also sustain biodiversity and rainfall.
David Khoza, the CGS executive manager running the project, said the project would link a pipeline transporting compressed carbon dioxide from major emitting sources such as Secunda directly to the identified injection site that is overlain with an “impermeable rock cap”.
“We will test the feasibility of injecting between 10 000 to 50000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (a year) to a depth of at least 1km, with the first injection seen late in 2023,” Khoza said.
South Africa had approximately 150 gigatonnes of potential storage capacity, mainly in offshore basins on the east and west coast, researchers said.
Sasol said it was working with the CGS, although it said previous assessments showed the associated cost was very high and sequestration may not be economically viable.