South Africa has reportedly begun geological mapping of the country's first carbon capture and storage (CCS) site. According to a senior Council for Geoscience official, the country expects to inject enormous amounts of CO2 underground starting 2023.
The project will be headquartered in the town of Leandra in the Mpumalanga province of northeastern South Africa, which is a carbon emissions hotspot and home to multiple coal-fired power plants as well as Sasol's world-leading Secunda coal-to-liquids fuel facility.
South Africa is one of the continent's biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, with coal providing most of its electricity, releasing about 470 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year.
However, CCS has received backlash from environmentalists who warn that the project risks becoming a justification for continuation of burning fossil fuels and abandoning nature's carbon-capture mechanism, trees, which help support biodiversity.
However, others believe it is critical to achieving a net carbon-zero global economy by 2050. The worldwide coal business is its most avid supporter. Even as the country increases its use of renewable energy, the South African government has defended its right to tap into huge coal seams.
David Khoza, the CGS executive manager running the project, said South Africa would continue to utilize coal for a long time, so it should be used sustainably to reduce CO2 emissions.
According to a spokesperson, the deadline for tapping a $23 million World Bank grant to support the CCS project was first set for December this year but has now been put back to June 2023.
South Africa has 150 gigatonnes of potential storage capacity, primarily in the offshore basins of the east and west coast. Sasol said it is collaborating with CGS, despite past analysis indicating that the associated cost was very high, and that sequestration would not be economically viable.