Worldwide use of fossil fuels and other human activities have resulted in an atmospheric increase of carbon dioxide from 280 ppm around 1850 to 380 ppm today. Most climate scientists and governments agree that this ongoing increase is likely to cause climatic changes, which are detrimental to the economy, the ecology and human health. The (International Energy Agency) IEA and others e.g. Nicholas Stern have determined that the cost of not addressing carbon dioxide emissions will be higher than addressing the full economic impact of climate change.
Improving energy efficiency and switching to non-fossil fuel based power generation is essential in addressing the problem. However the existing energy infrastructure has a life expectancy of about fifty years and the impact of replacing this infrastructure prematurely would be deleterious to the economy. The capture of carbon dioxide at the point of release and the deep underground storage (CCS) thereof will help to decrease carbon dioxide emissions. CCS technology is a way of bridging the gap from today until the existing energy infrastructure is replaced with non-fossil fuel based power generation.
More than ninety percent of South Africa’s power is generated from coal and other industries e.g. the synfuel industry also use large quantities of coal, which is resulting in the release of over 400 milliontonnes of carbon dioxide annually. The South African government has committed the country to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and has established the South African Centre for Carbon Capture and storage (SACCCS) to investigate the feasibility of CCS in South Africa.