With France abuzz with innovative discussions around how to mitigate the effects of climate change at the UN Climate Summit in Paris, South African power utility Eskom, has announced its drive for “cleaner air”.
The state-owned power utility supplies the country with 95% of its total energy needs, with its predominant base load fuel being coal, and according to Green Peace, South Africa is among the highest emitters of CO2 in the world.
According to the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre, in 2008 the country emitted 119 million metric tonnes of carbon, which was a direct result from coal.
Climate Change Strategy
The national utility has implemented a Climate Change Strategy which is based on a comprehensive set of six pillars.
To quote Eskom, the pillars include:
- Diversification of the generation mix to lower carbon-emitting technologies: This will be done by bolstering the generation capacity through the development of nuclear, gas, renewables, imports and clean coal projects.
- Energy efficiency measures to reduce demand: The utility has set the target to reduce the country’s demand by 3,038MW in the 2012-2017 period.
- Adaptation to the negative impacts of climate change: This will include the “cleaner air” programme, water management and retrofitting various coal-fired plants with "clean" technology.
- Innovation through research, demonstration and development, which will include solar, thermal plant, smart grids and underground coal.
- Investment through carbon market mechanisms: This pillar entails carbon financing and opportunities for trading in the CO2 market globally. The utility highlighted that it’s Green Financing strategy will reach completion by the end of 2015.
- The final pillar emphasises the power company’s continued progress through advocacy, partnerships and collaboration
“As part of our drive for cleaner air flue gas desulphurisation (FGD), which reduces SO2 emissions by more than 90%, will be installed at the Medupi and Kusile power stations currently being built in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces respectively,” the utility said in a company statement last week.
New build coal-fired plants
The state power company commenced construction of two coal-fired power plants, Medupi and Kusile, in an effort to boost the country’s generation capacity. However, the construction has faced unforeseen challenges resulting in high costs and delays.
According to Eskom, these new build plants will each be fitted with fabric filter plant, which reduces particulate emissions by more than 99.9%, as well as low NOx burners, which reduce NOx emissions.
As a result, the commissioning of the new power stations will not cause a significant deterioration in ambient air quality or a significant increase in health risks.
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