Chemicals producer Omnia has been issued more than a million emission credits for the clean development mechanism (CDM) project at its nitric acid production facility, in Sasolburg.
The JSE-listed company reduced its greenhouse-gas emissions from the plant by 98%, after the incorporation of the EnviNOx technology in 2008.
Omnia MD Rod Humphris reported on Monday that the 1 076 015 Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), which translated into 42% of the total issuance in Southern Africa, were issued after a rigorous audit from an independent body.
CER credits can be traded and used by industrialised countries to meet part of their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
The Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period runs from 2008 to 2012. Climate change negotiators agreed in Durban last year to extend the pact for another five years.
The CDM process allowed non-annex B countries (developing countries committed to the emissions reduction aims of the Kyoto protocol) such as South Africa to trade CER certificates with annex B countries (industrialised nations) such as Germany, Austria and Japan.
Currently, South Africa had 20 registered CDM projects and a further 48 currently under validation. Omnia said it was the first company in sub-Saharan Africa to be issued over a million credits.
Imbewu climate change and CDM legal consultancy director Andrew Gilder said the large industrial-scale project had been mitigating industrial gas such as nitrous oxide (N2O) and generating carbon credits since 2008. Many projects in sub-Saharan Africa were of a smaller scale and mostly community focused.
Currently, about five nitrogen oxide emission projects were registered in South Africa, while there were about 94 globally.
Africa currently held 2.12% of the 3 776 CDM projects registered globally and 1.3% of total CERs, or credits, in issuance.
Omnia explained that its nitric acid plant presented an opportunity for the company to reduce its N2O and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions to contribute towards the improvement of the air quality of the Vaal Triangle, which is a declared National Priority Area in terms of the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act.
Emissions such as N2O and NOx were not currently regulated by South African legislation, however, it was classified as a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential estimated to be 310 times greater than that of carbon dioxide.
Omnia plans to install a second EnviNOx system on the new R1.4-billion nitric acid plant, which its board approved in 2010.
The EnviNOx technology was developed by UHDE in Germany.