Interest for CCS gaining momentum in South Africa

Workshop participants at National Core Library

CCS workshop participants at National Core Library in Pretoria.

The deployment of Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) technology in South Africa is gaining momentum.  At the request of the stakeholders, a Carbon Capture and Storage Technical Workshop was held in KwaZulu-Natal Province, the area of interest for the Pilot CO2 Storage Project (PCSP).  The workshop was organized by the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) in partnership with the South African Department of Energy.

Demand high for workshop

The workshop was planned for 50 participants, however due to the demands made by stakeholders from various sectors, more than 150 people participated. The workshop included experts in geology, geophysics and government officials from the key departments of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Water and Sanitation, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Energy, City of uMhlathuze, UMhlabuyalingana Local, Ugu District and Umuziwabantu Local municipalities, Environmental NGOs, academia, international peers and the general public. The greater than expected participation indicated the wide and growing interest in CCS, especially among non-specialists.

Delegates 2

Over 150 stakeholders attended a recent CCS technical workshop held in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa, to discuss a proposed pilot project.

Presentations focused mainly on the technical aspects of CCS technology and provided the delegates with a platform to discuss and raise issues related to the planned PCSP.  Topics included lessons learned and case studies from various CCS projects throughout the world, site characterization techniques, geological mapping for CO2 storage, permitting requirements, and regulatory frameworks.

SANEDI CEO Kevin Nassiep outlined the Institute’s mandate and its offerings in the energy sector as well as the organization’s commitment towards the fulfillment of the country’s CCS mandate. Nassiep emphasized the importance of CCS as a measure to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions. CCS has been designated as one of the eight Near-Term Priority Flagship Programs in the South African National Climate Change Response Strategy White Paper released late 2011. The CCS Roadmap was endorsed by the South African Cabinet in May 2012.

Zama Mathenjwa, the UMkhanyakude District Manager and Acting General Manager of the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Enviromental Affairs (EDTEA), Northern Region thanked SANEDI for bringing the workshop to the KZN province, one of the potential sites for the pilot project.

Pilot project an essential step

Chairperson of the SANEDI Board Ingrid Tufvesson thanked delegates for their participation and indicated that CCS has the potential to prevent tens of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.  Noting that South Africa will continue to use fossil fuels in the foreseeable future, CCS is seen as a transition technology until renewables and nuclear energies can play a larger part in the energy economy. The Pilot CO2 Storage Project is an essential step for a prospective full scale integrated CCS demonstration that is scheduled to precede a commercial roll-out.

The World Bank Group’s appointed Pilot CO2 Storage Project Technical Advisory Task Team, led by Battelle Memorial Institute, conducted presentations focused mainly on site characterization methods, regulatory frameworks and permitting procedures for geological storage of CO2, lessons learned and case studies from existing CCS projects and the global status of CCS technology deployment.  The World Bank Group presented on its support for strengthening capacity and knowledge building to create opportunities for developing countries to explore CCS potential.

Among the delegates were representatives from the UMhlauyalinagan Local Municipality.  The UMhlabuyalingana Local Municipality is identified in the Atlas on Geological Storage of CO2 in South Africa for potential geological storage of CO2 in South Africa. The Atlas identified five possible CO2 geological storage basins summarizing storage potentials in South Africa. Only two areas are of interest for the PCSP, the onshore areas of UMkhanyakude District Municipality and the Sarah Baartman District Municipality. The Pilot CO2 Storage Project is configured to improve understanding of the geology in South Africa and provide easy access to information that will allow for comparative studies thus improving information sharing and lessons learned. Currently, SANEDI is consulting with local stakeholders regarding the process of conducting non-invasive seismic surveys in the potential geological CO2 storage sites.

National awareness of CCS a priority

Much of the discussion from the delegates centred around the risks associated with geological storage of CO2, impact on underground water sources, regulations and project legacy to the communities that are likely to be affected by the project. The progression of CCS towards the Pilot CO₂ Storage Project necessitates that a concerted effort to increase national awareness of CCS must be prioritized. The issues and questions raised by the delegates will be addressed during the 5th Biennial CCS Conference that will be held in the KwaZulu-Natal province this year. Closing the workshop in Richards Bay, Mathenjwa emphasized that the authorities are now becoming better informed and equipped to proceed with the work on environmental permitting and compliance matters relating to CCS deployment in South Africa.

On the third day, the workshop relocated to the National Core Library in Pretoria. There, SANEDI hosted a core logging workshop for the Zululand Basin in conjunction with Battelle and the South African Council for Geoscience (CGS) to provide participants with the results of the previous analysis of the archived cores. This workshop was tailored for university students who were given the opportunity to obtain hands-on experience of such analyses.

The enthusiasm of the participants at the workshop indicated the expanding interest by stakeholders in CCS as a greenhouse gas mitigation technology and bodes well for the success of the PCSP.