South Africa approves CO2 capture plan

7 May 2012

South Africa’s Cabinet has approved a plan to capture and store carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, in deep geologic formations.

“Cabinet endorsed the Carbon Capture and Storage Roadmap,” Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Minister Collins Chabane said at a media briefing in Pretoria on Friday.

Carbon capture and storage has been identified in the government’s long-term mitigation scenarios plan as one of the options to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, one of the main drivers behind global warming.

“One of government’s strategic objectives is mitigation against carbon emissions and adaptation to the impact of climate change,” Chabane said following the Cabinet’s latest fortnightly meeting.

South Africa relies heavily on fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil) for its energy production.

Chabane said South Africa had voluntarily committed to reduce its CO2 emissions by 34 percent by 2020, and by 45 percent by 2025, on condition that the requisite technological and financial support was provided.

“Carbon capture and storage can reduce CO2 emissions by 80 to 90 percent … particularly CO2 from sources such as electricity generation plants, coal-to-liquid plants and cement manufacturing plants,” he said.

Carbon capture and storage involves capturing CO2 from a point source, such as a power station or coal-to-fuel plant; transporting it, usually by pipeline; and pumping it down a borehole into porous rock formations deep underground, where it is contained and stored.

A recently-released Geological Storage Atlas has identified potential carbon capture and storage areas in South Africa.

It is understood the next step in the carbon capture and storage “roadmap” process will be a test injection of CO2 into a suitable geologic formation, to determine whether such storage can be safely undertaken in South Africa.