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Jun 13, 2008

On-The-Air (13/06/2008)

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Safm 13 June 2008
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Every Friday morning, SAfm’s AMLive’s radio anchor Tsepiso Makwetla speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:

Makwetla: The first contracts have been awarded for the upgrading of hundreds of kilometres of busy Gauteng freeway. Tell us about that.

Creamer: Yes, there is a massive roads upgrading programme under way, basically between Johannesburg and Pretoria and it is known as the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Programme (GFIP), with a budget of about R55-billion and about 516 km of road are going to be upgraded.

The bad news is that this will be upgraded while we still have to travel on it, but they have given the assurance that the workings won’t be talking place during peak periods. In the meantime, a lot of bridges are going to have to be removed and a lot of roads are going to have to be widened, with new lanes coming in.

Just the one example of the Allendale off-ramp that has one bridge at the moment is going to end up with three bridges there and all the robots will go so it will be free flowing traffic. So, we are looking forward to a great new freeway network between Johannesburg and Pretoria, but the constraint at the moment is that the civil engineering community is so busy that every tender that goes out is so highly priced and the budget could go way above the R55-billion estimated.

Makwetla: A second wind farm – 15 times larger than the first – is on the cards for the Western Cape.

Creamer: The Western Cape is into wind energy. We saw it with the Darling launch, which is only a small micro-wind farm, 5,2 MW, but that is up and running and it is a commercial project backed by the Danes. Now we see the Western Cape Environmental Department coming in with a St Helena Bay project.

This is 15 times bigger, 80 MW and they are looking to laying the foundation, maybe a bit ambitious, by June next year. Then, of course, Eskom has got its own project, it wants to put up a wind farm in the Western Cape as well and has been working on one in the Vredendal area for some time now.

There will be a little bit of a delay on that, but that will be 100 MW. Then going on to the West Coast, other projects are planned on the West Coast, where there is a lot of wind potential, then over the border into Nambia, of course, there are plans for wind energy projects at Luderitz and Swartkopmund and also Walvis Bay.

South Africa has its own target that it wants renewable energy percentage to be 15 % of the total energy by 2014 and it looks like with these projects going through, it might just meet that.

Makwetla: Finally, South Africa has drawn up a road map for the combating of climate change and global warming.

Creamer: Climate change and global warming are on the lips of the whole international community. South Africa has to come into line, we are just not country ready at the moment. Other countries are way ahead of us and so we have to set up a road map and that is being done by Saneri, which is the South African National Energy Research Institute.

They promised at a recent fossil fuel workshop that they would come up with the road map, as they call it, to map the way forward as to how we get ready for dealing with the issues of climate change and global warming. The International Energy Agency has pleaded with all countries that any new fossil fuel or coal-fired power station going up should have carbon capture and storage.

That is the new buzzword, CCS, and that means that you don’t allow the carbon dioxide to go into the air anymore because that creates the global warming and pollution. You capture that carbon dioxide and you inject it into the ground and you leave it in the ground for another 250 years, making sure it doesn’t escape.

So, what Saneri has to do is find out where we can inject this into the ground with the correct rock formations. That will be done by December 2009 and then they will come up with a demonstration plant, because we want to see how this works, and they will have the plans for that in 2011 and then go forward with it in 2014.

So a little bit in the distance, but in the meantime, South Africa looking at this whole issue of carbon capture and storage, because so much of our energy comes from coal and we put so much CO2 into the atmosphere.

The cost is an issue and it looks like it is something like $60 per ton and just on the demonstration plant of 10 000 tons a year it is going to be a costly business, so they need to come down the cost-curve and perhaps the Australians will be able to help them, because they have got Zerogen coming through. Zerogen will probably be the first carbon capture and storage example for the world and perhaps we can learn a few lessons there.

Makwetla: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly, he’ll be back with us at the same time next week.

Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter
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