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Scientists see geothermal potential in low-enthalpy resources of South Africa

The five areas of South Africa with geothermal potential (source: Taufeeq Dhansay)
Alexander Richter 6 Dec 2017

Scientists from South Africa see a realistic opportunity for the country to tap geothermal energy for energy production from low-enthalpy resources in 5 identified regions of the country.

Reported from the Horn of Africa, local geologists from the Council of Geoscience and Nelson Mandela University believe geothermal actually should be seen as a potential source of energy for South Africa.

Writing in the latest volume of the South African Journal of Science, Dhansay notes that SA does not have active volcanoes or evidence of recent volcanic activity. Yet he believes a recent heat-mapping study suggests there is still enough heat and warmth beneath the land that could be used to generate steam and electricity, making use of recent technological advances in the field of low-enthalpy geothermal energy harvesting, as reported by Business Day from South Africa.

“The results of this study suggest that despite geothermal resources not being part of SA’s renewable energy mix, the country does have some potential for harnessing low-enthalpy geothermal energy. We therefore recommend that SA seriously considers geothermal energy as another renewable option,” Dhansay says.

In the latest South African study, Dhansay and his colleagues note that local rocks associated with high heat flow signatures often contain high concentrations of radiogenic elements such as uranium and potassium. In fact, it is these rocks, which are rich in heat-producing elements, that release heat during the decay of radiogenic elements. Nevertheless, the study has identified five regions that could be considered promising areas for geothermal energy projects.

They include parts of the Cape mountains north-east of Cape Town; the Southern Karoo region from Oudtshoorn to Cradock; a large belt of land north of Durban; the Thabazimbi-Murchison belt north of Johannesburg and the northern Limpopo region near Musina.

“SA may therefore have a realistic chance of developing geothermal energy, but will still need additional research and development including new temperature measurements and structural, hydrogeological and economic investigations.”

The actual paper can be found here.

Source: Business Live