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SA on track in addressing climate change

by Luyanda Makapela
on 15 Apr 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

South Africa is doing its best to meet the challenge of addressing climate change issues while improving energy supplies, says Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica.

Speaking at the first-ever Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum meeting in Africa, held in Cape Town on Monday, the minister said while South Africa was dependent on coal to produce energy, government was prepared to employ new technologies to mitigate its environmental effects.

"A major by-product of coal usage is carbon dioxide emissions. South Africa currently emits approximately 400 million tonnes per year of carbon dioxide.

"The total South African emission is about one percent of the world's emissions," said the minister, adding that despite this being a small fraction of the total world emissions, the country was committed to addressing the challenge.

In order to increase energy supplies South Africa was not only looking towards coal but also building new electricity generation stations to include gas turbines and a small amount of hydro, nuclear.

With these developments, South Africa is also fast-tracking programmes that conserve electricity while encouraging people to use energy more efficiently

Ms Sonjica said these developments clearly shows that despite of renewable energy programmes and energy efficiency measures, South Africa's energy economy will be coal based for some decades to come.

"It is therefore essential that the use of such a finite and carbon emitting energy resource be planned and managed in a holistic and environmentally acceptable manner."

Ms Sonjica said the key challenge for governments was to ensure the availability of energy to satisfy growing demand while looking at delivering energy at required times.

Other challenges included the affordability of prices to especially poor communities and the sustainability of sources of energy used to ensure that carbon dioxide emissions were reduced.

The minister further said these measures can only assist the Cabinet approve energy efficiency strategy that set a target for improved efficiency of 12 percent by 2015.

Although South Africa has been a member of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum for five years, the minister said this was the first opportunity the country has had to host a meeting of this organisation.

She thanked the organisation for having confidence in the continent and South Africa in particular.

"I would like to thanks the sponsors for this conference and I hope that at the end, we will garner the necessary information which will help us, as a nation, in our carbon sequestration efforts," said Ms Sonjica.

In March this year, Eskom has awarded Alstom and Hitachi Power Africa contracts worth more than R31 billion to equip a new 4 740-megawatt coal-fired power station.

The power station, dubbed Project Bravo, is to be built in Witbank in Mpumalanga.

French company Alstom has secured an estimated R13 billion contract to supply turbines and related infrastructure.

While Hitachi Power Africa, a venture between Germany-based Hitachi Power Europe and South African empowerment partners, will provide boilers for the new power station.

Both companies were awarded similar contracts in November 2007 for "Project Medupi", another coal-fired power station being constructed in Lephalale in the Limpopo province. - BuaNews

Compiled by the Government Communication and Information System

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