New Eskom power station to use coal-to-gas technology

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 29 May 2011

Eskom wants to build a new 2 100MW power station, making use of new underground coal-to-gas technology.

Eskom's test project at Majuba power station contributes 3MW of power to total output

Since 2007 the power utility has been working on the technology and hopes to start designing the new macro power station by December. This week Barry MacColl, Eskom’s manager for technology, strategy and planning, told Sake24 that the success of the technology has already been demonstrated. The trials had produced satisfactory results and the potential was tremendous, he said.

In the technology process two shafts are drilled into underground coal reserves. Then the coal – which is underground – is set alight. The burning coal releases, through the one shaft, a flammable gas which is collected and redirected to gas turbines that generate electricity.

MacColl said the underground reaction is controlled by regulating the quantity of oxygen being pumped into the one shaft, and the process can be altered by cutting off the oxygen supply.

Eskom’s test project at the Majuba power station is already contributing 3MW of power to Majuba’s total output.

Chris Yelland, an independent engineering analyst, said that very little is still publicly known about the technology. The technology was developed in the Soviet Union and used there, he explained. The biggest experts in this area would be Russians. Continue reading

Demolition of Athlone towers to proceed

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 11 April 2010

Three thousand holes need to be drilled into each tower for controlled demolition

Progress towards the demolition of the two Athlone cooling towers is proceeding smoothly, as the City works towards a demolition date around Sunday 30 May 2010.

A professional team, which includes an environmental scientist, was appointed on 10 March by means of a competitive process to oversee the technical, environmental and heritage aspects of the project and to prepare for a safe demolition.

The decision to demolish the two iconic towers follows structural damage to one of the cooling towers during the early hours of Sunday, 14 February 2010, when the stabilising rings around one of the towers became detached and fell to the ground. These rings were fitted as an additional safety and stability measure almost twenty years ago. Consulting structural engineers were immediately appointed to assess the damage and advise the City on what steps should be taken. Their recommendation was that the towers be demolished as soon as possible.

The City accepted the recommendation and has immediately proceeded to plan the demolition process. Continue reading

WWF moves closer to Green Power

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 14 March 2010

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF South Africa) is showing its commitment over the next three years to reducing its own environmental impacts by operating on certified Green Power provided by means of the Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) system.

Dr Morne du Plessis, CEO of WWF, says: “This is not only a significant move away from coal-based energy, and thus toward a greener future, but is also encouraging for all of us here at WWF, who are looking for tangible, measurable ways to reduce the environmental impact of our operations.”

“It is imperative that all energy users reduce their consumption as well as ensure that the source of the energy they use has the lowest possible environmental impact.”

Electricity from registered renewable energy sources has far lower environmental impacts than that generated at coal-fired power stations. These generators, which produce the majority of South Africa’s electricity use coal and water and emit ash, air pollutants and greenhouse gasses, which cause climate change.

The RECs are supplied by local firm GreenX Energy, which enables energy users to operate on certified Green Power which in this case is generated by solar panels of the Nuon-RAPS Utiltiy in KwaZulu-Natal. GreenX Energy is one of a small number of certified Green Power suppliers in South Africa, other companies include Amatola Green Power and Iskhus Energy.

Dr du Plessis concludes: “The fact that the impact of climate change will be felt first and hardest by the poor in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa and the world makes action on climate change a matter of social justice.”

Source: WWF

Landmark towers to be demolished

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 16 February 2010

Parts of reinforcement rings, fitted to the Athlone Towers in 1992 as a safety measure, fell to the ground in the early hours of Valentines Day forcing a short precautionary closure of the N2.

Athlone power Station, Cape Town. Photo by DanieVDM under creative commons licence 2.0

According to the structural engineers’ initial assessment the loss of the rings does not necessarily compromise the integrity of the cooling towers, but the City of Cape Town is monitoring the situation.

Today the towers serve no useful purpose and will be demolished as soon as a report of the City’s structural engineers has been studied. Electricity generation on the site was stopped in 2002 and there was no plan for any future generation on site. A decision to decommission the site was taken in 2006.

A range of preliminary scenarios for the redevelopment of the entire Athlone power station site were submitted to Council’s Utilities Portfolio Committee in October 2009. These options will be opened for public comment before the City decides on the final redevelopment of the site. Various options have been offered including educational, commercial and residential facilities on site.

By demolishing the towers, an additional eight hectares of land would be made available for the redevelopment.

Source: City of Cape Town

Mapungubwe coal mining licence granted

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems
04 February 2010

The future of the Mapungubwe transfrontier park in Limpopo is in the balance, after government approved mining rights in the area to Australian mining group CoAL Africa.

The Mapungubwe World Heritage Site

CoAL Africa announced on Tuesday it was awarded a licence by the deparment of minerals to set up an opencast coal mine and a power station, called Vele coal mine/Mulilo power station, in the buffer zone of the ecologically sensitive and culturally valuable Mapungubwe.

The park borders on Botswana and Zimbabwe. It is also a transfrontier park – the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (with Botswana and Zimbabwe) – and has been officially recognised as a World Heritage site by Unesco.

Park employees said the mine and power station will change the region’s official land use (as agreed and signed by various representative ministers during the trilateral memorandum of agreement in 2006) from conservation to industrial.

“We have been caught completely offside by this,” said Johan Verhoef, the international coordinator for the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Park.

According to Verhoef, the Australian company does not have a water licence.

“The region is very dry, and the ecology here is very sensitive. The mine will therefore have a negative impact,” Verhoef said.

“The intention was to set up a treaty between South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe this year, but with government having granted the mining licence the future looks bleak,” Verhoef said.

Department of minerals spokesperson Jeremy Michaels said he was aware of the matter, but could not respond to questions immediately.

Read: Minister concerned about mining near Mapungubwe 20 Feb 2010