Published in The Weekender, August 2009
I want to visit Eskom’s proposed concentrated solar power (CSP) power station, but after 10 years of faffing, they’ve still not actually built it, and South Africa is now watching as India, California, Spain and Texas leave us in the solar dust.
So I’m visiting one of Eskom’s efforts to make old energy a bit less damaging. Eskom is very comfortable with coal, but like many of the world’s utilities, they’re under ever-increasing pressure to use less of it and dial back their enormous contribution to global warming. One of their latest efforts to make coal cleaner is a pilot project for underground coal gasification (UCG) adjacent to the gigantic Majuba power station near Volksrust in Mpumalanga.
The idea behind UCG is that instead of first mining coal, processing it, then burning it to produce heat and electricity, you set it alight underground to produce a stream of gas that can in turn be burned Continue reading