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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  12 Apr 2011

ENVIRONMENT: Government and Taxi Industry to Reduce Carbon Emissions

 





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In an effort to reduce carbon emissions, the Gauteng provincial government and the South African National Taxi Association Council (SANTACO) have embarked on a partnership to convert Mini-bus Taxis in the province to dually operate on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as well as petrol.



The three million rand pilot project which was facilitated by one of Blue IQ’s automotive subsidiaries, the Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC), will see 70 dual-fuel taxis in operation in northern Pretoria and Tembisa.

Gauteng MEC for Economic Development, Qedani Mahlangu, has hailed the initiative as a positive development towards achieving the objectives of Green economy



“This project has the potential to significantly advance our objective to create a ‘low-carbon economy’. South Africa’s most recent Country Report to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development noted with concern our over-reliance on ‘dirty energy’,” she said.



Strategic relationships were established with SANTACO, and the South African National Energy Research Institute (SANERI). In addition, Sasol was brought on board due to their intensive LPG programme in South Africa.



After a robust vehicle selection process, seventy mini-bus taxis were converted to operate dually on petrol as well as LPG over a 3 month period. An LPG vehicle conversion specialist was appointed to conduct the conversion process, using the latest generation conversion kits, which were imported from Germany.



“The province’s Employment, Growth and Development Strategy identify the green economy as a one of the ‘Dynamic Drivers’ of future growth,” says Blue IQ Chairman of the Board, Mogopodi Mokoena.



“This partnership with one of the most used forms of public transport, the taxi industry, has the potential to assist the Gauteng province to reduce the levels of harmful emissions from the rapidly growing number of vehicles on our roads.”

The project findings show an 11% reduction on the carbon dioxide (CO2) levels when switching the vehicles to LPG. And more significantly, the tests show a massive reduction by 31% on the carbon monoxide (CO) levels, which is the harmful gas which can cause various forms of cancer. With the taxi industry transporting more than 14 million people daily, replication and expansion of the LPG conversion project will be of considerable advantage to the provincial and national government’s environmental management.

LPG is one of the internationally recognized alternative energy sources that have a reduced harmful impact on the environment.



Technical tests on a prototype mini-bus (sponsored by Sasol) were conducted to precisely assess the impact on carbon emissions as well as its fuel efficiency. The AIDC commissioned these tests at both the Gerotek Test Facilities in Pretoria and the SABS Laboratories in East London. The tests, the first of their kind in South Africa, showed that although the overall fuel consumption is higher on LPG, the lower cost of LPG balances out the effect of fuel costs for the minibus taxi driver. The cost benefits also include improved longevity of the engine and a reduction of overall maintenance costs over the lifespan of the vehicle. Vehicle performance remained unchanged.



“The one hurdle which historically plagued these types of projects is simply accessibility to refueling infrastructure. We are proud to realize the additional LPG refueling stations which have already been erected and will soon be erected by Sasol to support this sector’s growing demand. I would like to applaud Sasol for their support of this initiative and investing an additional R1, 2 million in refueling infrastructure to date”, says MEC Mahlangu.



The AIDC plans to rollout a 2nd wave of ‘150’ converted mini-bus taxis during the next 12 months. In light of this target, we can easily expect the sprouting of additional LPG refueling stations across Gauteng in order to support this growing fleet of ‘green’ minibus taxis.

The project has received endorsement from the National Minister of Transport, Sibusiso Ndebele, who has also requested a briefing on the outcomes of the pilot project, which could possibly inform future programmes of a national nature.


 
 
 
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