This article will discuss carbon capture in South Africa and investigate the ambitions, strategies, and challenges behind carbon capture technology. It will also delve into the key players in the market and the key projects of interest. Carbon capture is a way to reduce carbon emissions by capturing carbon dioxide emanating from industrial processes and storing it deep underground. This technology is crucial in South Africa’s quest to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
Ambition & Strategy
South Africa aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 350 to 420 metric tonnes by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050. Carbon capture is essential to reduce emissions, and the carbon tax policy was promulgated in June 2019 as part of the climate mitigation policy.
In addition, the South African government has also levied taxes on transport fuels, vehicles, aviation, products, and water supply. These taxes have raised the price of emitting carbon. However, the subsidies to fossil fuel industries have offset the effectiveness of the policy, thereby complicating South Africa’s efforts to transition to renewable energy.
The pilot site for carbon capture and storage is located in Leandra, Mpumalanga province, in the northeast region. This project is developed through a $23 million grant from the World Bank, and the feasibility study is to commence with initial injections of funding in 2023.
South African petrochemicals company Sasol is partnering with ArcelorMittal South Africa to build carbon capture technology and produce steel using green hydrogen. The two companies would capture carbon and convert it into sustainable fuels and chemicals.
- The biggest challenge of promoting carbon capture technology is that it could become an excuse to continue using fossil fuels and delay the transition to renewable energy.
- The second concern revolves around the nascent state of the technology, which is both costly and challenging to efficiently extract carbon from the atmosphere and securely store it below ground.
- Considering the petrochemical industry, the challenge lies in implementing carbon capture facilities due to the numerous small emission sources within these facilities.
- Terragrn Sa Pty Limited, based in Johannesburg, was founded in 2021. It is a private enterprise involved in creating large agroforests to increase food security.
- Celebratree, based in Cape Town, was founded in 2023. It is a nature-based carbon equity platform enabling people to celebrate special moments by planting trees, thereby increasing carbon sink capacity.
- SeaH4 Pty Limited, based in Cape Town, was founded in 2021. They specialise in creating biofuels by farming algae, which would help reduce reliance on fossil fuels in the long term.
- Mogale Meat Company, based in Pretoria, was founded in 2020. They use cell-cultivated meat to reduce greenhouse gas emitted in rearing traditional livestock.
- De Novo Dairy, based in Cape Town, was founded in 2021. They use fermentation technology to produce animal-free dairy products, thereby reducing land, water and food usage of cows until they reach milk production age.
South Africa has great ambitions to scale carbon capture technology, but the first plant is yet to be operational. Many efforts have been taken to reduce carbon emissions such as carbon tax policy, raising taxes on transport fuels, vehicles, aviation fuel, etc. However, the current efforts are inadequate and more needs to be done.