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Journal of Energy in Southern Africa

versión On-line ISSN 2413-3051
versión impresa ISSN 1021-447X


PRETORIUS, Ilze; PIKETH, Stuart; BURGER, Roelof  y  NEOMAGUS, Hein. A perspective on South African coal fired power station emissions. J. energy South. Afr. [online]. 2015, vol.26, n.3, pp.27-40. ISSN 2413-3051.

This paper investigates trends of historical and projected future South African coal-fired power station criteria (total primary Particulate Matter (PM), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) and Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions. It was found that an energy restricted environment has an increasing effect on emissions, as emissions per energy unit increased from the onset of the South African energy crisis. PM emissions particularly, increased during the energy crisis period, due to increased pressure on PM abatement and lowered maintenance opportunity. Projections of future coal-fired power station criteria and CO2 emissions are made for four different future scenarios for the period 2015 to 2030. Three of the four scenarios are based on the lower projected energy demand baseline case as published in the updated Integrated Development Plan (IRP). The difference between these three scenarios is different retrofit rates of power stations with emissions abatement technologies. The fourth scenario is a worst case scenario and assumes high energy demand (and therefore no decommissioning of power stations), high emission rates (similar to worst past emission rates during the period 1999-2012) and no further abatement of emissions above and beyond current mitigation efforts. This scenario gives an indication of what South African coal-fired power station emissions could look like if the energy crisis persists. There is a marked difference between projected best and worst case PM emissions during the entire projected period, but especially during 2030 when worst case PM emissions compared to a 2015 baseline value are expected to rise by 40% and best case PM emissions are projected to decline by 40%. Worst case NOx emissions are expected to increase by 40% in 2030 from a 2015 baseline value whereas best case emissions are expected to decline 10% from the same level in 2030. Worst case SO2 emissions are predicted to increase by around 38% in 2030 and best case emissions are expected to decrease by around 20% in 2030 from a 2015 baseline value. Relative emissions used in the projection of future CO2 emissions in this paper differ from that used in the energy demand and energy mix modelling done for the updated IRP baseline case. The reason for this is that the modelling for the updated IRP assumed relative CO2 emission factors for supercritical boilers, whereas only Kusile and Medupi fall in this category and relative emissions from all other stations are, in fact, between 5% and 16% higher. For this reason, it seems unlikely that the South African climate commitment target for 2030 will be made.

Palabras clave : coal-fired power station emissions; energy crisis; South Africa; emissions projection; climate commitments.

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