A South African government official has said the country will have built a pilot plant for carbon capture by 2020.

South Africa is the largest emitter of carbon dioxide in Africa, and 12th in the world, but according to Reuters, during the next 10 years it will erect its first pilot plant for the capture and storage of emissions, to curb the problem.

The country is keen to reduce its greenhouse gas output, and carbon capture storage has been flagged as the first step in capping emissions by 2020-25, with a view to a noticeable reduction by mid-century.

The South African National Energy Research Institute (SANERI), a government-led agency in control of the process, said it had already secured R25m for the project for the next five years.

It also claimed 60% of the country’s emissions are potentially capturable.

Signatories include petrochemicals group SASOL (SOLJ.J), and state-owned utility Eskom (ESCJ.UL), whose combined output amounts to more than half of the country’s emissions, over 400m tons of CO2 a year.

A study to identify the possible storage capacity is expected to be completed by April 2010, with a commercial decision for the demonstration plant to be made by 2016.