Sa­sol looks to the sun for power grid

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

THE world’s leader in mak­ing mo­tor fuel from coal, plans to re­duce its car­bon foot­print by cap­tur­ing its emis­sions, pro­duc­ing so­lar power and mak­ing its plants more ef­fi­cient.

Henri Loub­ser, project di­rec­tor at the com­pany’s New En­ergy unit, said a pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship be­tween Sa­sol, other en­ergy firms and a South African uni­ver­sity would start pro­duc­ing thin film so­lar mod­ules within 2.5 years.

“We are still speak­ing twoand-a-half years be­fore the fa­cil­ity can re­al­is­ti­cally be op­er­a­tional,” Loub­ser told jour­nal­ists yes­ter­day.

A South African team of sci­en­tists in­vented the de­sign for the so­lar pan­els, which con­sist of mi­cro-thin metal­lic film – only five mi­crons thick – that con­vert light into en­ergy at a frac­tion of the cost of con­ven­tional pan­els.

The Thin Film So­lar Tech­nol­ogy (TFST) joint ven­ture will build a power plant to pro­duce 40 MW us­ing the film, Loub­ser said.

Sa­sol, ranked sec­ond af­ter power util­ity Eskom, the coun­try’s top pol­luter, re­ported to­tal car­bon emis­sions in South Africa for the fi­nan­cial year to end-June of 62 mil­lion tons.

The util­ity, crit­i­cised by en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists for do­ing lit­tle to stream­line its op­er­a­tions to­wards a car­bon-free econ­omy, said it had set a tar­get to re­duce its emis­sions in­ten­sity by 15 per­cent across its op­er­a­tions by 2020 from a 2005 base­line.

It also plans to make new coal-to-liq­uids ( CTL) plants more ef­fi­cient by re­duc­ing emis­sions of those built be­fore 2020 by 20 per­cent and those built be­fore 2030 by 30 per­cent.

Loub­ser said pro­duc­ing en­ergy from so­lar sources, of which there is an abun­dance in South Africa, will be a fo­cus for the com­pany.

Sa­sol plans to make a choice of which type of con­cen­trated so­lar power tech­nol­ogy it will pur­sue by next June, Loub­ser said. – Reuters

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