South Africa should consider its low-enthalpy geothermal potential

South Africa should consider its low-enthalpy geothermal potential Landscape in Limpopo, South Africa (source: flickr/ South African Tourism, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 18 Sep 2015

South Africa as the country with the highest carbon emissions in Africa needs to look at renewable energy development and should consider supporting geothermal as a valid energy option.

South Africa is by far the leading contributor to carbon emissions in Africa. Therefore the country is looking to renewable energy to reduce its carbon emissions.

Geothermal energy is thereby one option, while a rather expensive one with rather prohibitive costs, unless – so TechCentral – strong incentives are provided.

The country does’t have active volcanisms or geothermal hot zones like Kenya or Ethiopia. Any geothermal opportunity in South Africa therefore would have to drill rather deep to find the resources of those countries. But there is some potential, as advanced heat flow measurements show. A viability – so the reports – could be achieved by a $25/ MWh energy tax incentive for geothermal energy generation.

There even has been a study on a hypothetical low-enthalpy enhanced geothermal plant utilizing binary technology in Limpopo province. “The study calculated the total cost and the potential carbon mitigation scenario. The results suggest that electricity generated from a 75MW geothermal plant would be twice the cost of coal-generated electricity. But, it also showed potential of mitigating 1,5g CO2/kWh, with the additional potential of simultaneous carbon sequestration.”

The study can be found in the South African Journal of Science (pdf).

The main take away from the study is that while geothermal energy might not be that obvious of a choice for South Africa, it still represents an opportunity to look at.

Source: The Conversation, TechCentral