Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  15 Nov 2010

GAS: Will Our Air Quality Suffer If Gas Mining Goes Ahead?


Recent Gauteng Business News

Advasol (PTY) Ltd – an alternative energy company – has applied for nine natural gas exploration licenses in the South Cape coastal area from Struisbaai to Mossel Bay, including Infanta, De Hoop and Stilbaai.

As part of its exploration license application process, Advasol held ‘open house’ meetings in July 2010, when the company heard the communities’ concerns about the company’s proposed activity in the area. One of the issues raised was whether harmful emissions would occur if natural gas is discovered and extracted.

Should Advasol find gas in the area of application, the gas will be piped out of the area to current industrial processing plants, such as Mosgas. The piping will be made from high quality stainless steel that will run underground, along already established roads out of the area. Advasol’s main focus is to ensure that the natural and visual beauty of the area and the natural environment are not disturbed or affected by gas extraction.


Natural methane emissions are more harmful than processed methane

Natural methane that seeps through the earth’s crust as a result of global warming is 21 times more harmful to the atmosphere than CO2 and takes four times longer to break down in the atmosphere. Methane is a key contributor to global warming along with increased leaves of CO2. In its natural state, methane is actually more harmful to the atmosphere than if it is harnessed for energy. Burning natural gas in the place of other fossil fuels emits fewer harmful pollutants, and an increased reliance on natural gas can potentially reduce the emission of many of these most harmful pollutants.
Natural gas, when it is converted into power, is 60% more efficient than coal. South Africa still relies almost solely on coal for its power generation although natural gas is cleaner and has less carbon emissions than coal.
Natural gas is the cleanest of all the fossil fuels. Composed primarily of methane, the main products of the combustion of natural gas are carbon dioxide and water vapour - the same compounds we exhale when we breathe. The combustion of natural gas emits almost 30 percent less carbon dioxide than oil, and just under 45 percent less carbon dioxide than coal.

Coal and oil are composed of much more complex molecules, with a higher carbon ratio as well as higher nitrogen and sulphur content. This means that when combusted, coal and oil release higher levels of harmful emissions, including a higher ratio of carbon emissions, nitrogen oxides (NOx), and sulphur dioxide (SO2). Coal and oil also release ash particles into the environment, substances that do not burn but which, instead, are carried into the atmosphere and contribute to pollution.
The combustion of natural gas, however, releases very small amounts of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, virtually no ash or particulate matter, and lower levels of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other reactive hydrocarbons.
The CO2 emissions of coal power generation plants are 0.97 tons/MWh; whereas for natural gas, the CO2 emissions are only 0.33 tons per MWh, indicating that gas fired power stations are nearly three times more CO2 efficient.

Advasol director, Anton van Wyk says that as natural gas is the cleanest and most environmentally neutral of all the fossil fuels, the biggest challenge facing this country is to find a sustainable source of natural gas locally or in neighbouring countries, onshore or offshore. “We need to play our part in the world whereby we realise the impacts of our actions and how, at a local level, they have a ripple effect across the planet. We need a sustainable power generation source – an affordable and practical solution – and we need to start reversing the impacts of our current power generation strategies so that we can all live in a healthier, cleaner world.”

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