Environmental impact of an industrial compressed air system for solar power in South Africa

20 January 2014

Almost 14% of the electricity generated by the national energy supplier (Eskom) in South Africa is sold directly to the mining sector and almost 20% is utilized directly by the compressed air systems of the mining sector. The industrial compressed air systems in South Africa therefore have a substantial impact on the environment in terms of emissions output. In this paper a solar powered compressor is installed parallel to an existing industrial compressed air system. The environmental (emissions) impact and energy consumption of the industrial compressed air system with the solar powered compressor is calculated and the results are provided. It is shown from the results that the solar powered air compressor improved the overall system efficiency and lowered the carbon footprint of the industrial compressed air system. The impact of the energy improvement on the amount of trees required to offset the calculated amount of CO2 is also provided.