SUSTAINABLE ENERGY NEWS on EMAIL (SENSE), Number 52: September 2008
Welcome! SENSE is a service of the Energy Policy Unit of the Sustainable Energy and Climate Change Project (SECCP) of Earthlife Africa Johannesburg (ELA Jhb).
SENSE is a regular publication, edited by Tristen Taylor. We welcome any feedback and submissions. Also, let us know if you wish to get more information from ELA Jhb, or know someone else who should be receiving SENSE. Please note that the material in SENSE (in particular the Editorial) does not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of Earthlife Africa Jhb and/or the SECCP.
2. SECCP News‚ÄîRenewable Energy Briefing Launched, National Energy Bill, SECCP Staff News
3. SA Sustainable Energy News‚ÄîSA’s Solar Car, Racing Solar, Booming SWH Industry, SA’s Low-Carbon Dreams, Sea Power
4. SA Unsustainable Energy‚ÄîBoss SASOL of the Paraffin Mafia, SASOL Flees Nigeria, SASOL Heads to China, Eskom & Co-gen, Eskom’s Warning, Eskom’s R4 million PR stunt, LNG Plant
5. SA Energy Policy & Analysis‚ÄîSA Coal Reserves, Low-Carbon Economy, SASOL’s Real Value
6. African Energy News‚ÄîAlgerian Solar, SA to Send Fuel to Nigeria, Kenya’s Geothermal Hopes, Namibian Nukes, Mozambican Transmission Line Aspirations, Africa’s Solar Potential, Coal for Ghana
Ever heard of the paraffin mafia? No? Well, until lately, the good boys and girls at SASOL were the head of Europe’s paraffin mafia, fixing prices on paraffin wax for fifteen or more years. The European Competition Commission took such a dim view of this‚Äîgiven paraffin wax’s multiple uses‚Äîthat they handed down a 318.2 million euro fine (R3.7 billion), stating that SASOL was the mafia’s top boss.
Oddly enough, it was another member of the cartel (Shell) that blew the whistle on SASOL’s role as the brains of the mafia, and, thus, wasn’t awarded a fine. No doubt this has caused much grinding of teeth and gnawing of bones in SASOL boardroom; maybe, along with its contract on the climate, the SASOL mafia will figure out a way to take care of the rat in its kitchen.
Even though R3.7 billion may seem a large amount, it is worth remembering that SASOL’s profit from paraffin wax last year was R627 million; the fine, therefore, representing a mere 6 years profit, while SASOL pricing fixing started from 1992. Crime, it seems, does pay.
Oddly enough, if I had committed a similar economic fraud, I’d not only be fined but also thrown into jail. I’d be a criminal. It seems that donations to the Springboks is a method of public redemption for an organisation that purposefully engaged in illegal activity for profit.
On a related note, I wonder how much SASOL should pay for poisoning the Vaal Triangle¬† over fifty-odd years. Maybe we should fine SASOL the mother of all fines: In this edition of SENSE, Jeremy Wakeford argues that SASOL is a liability and that it should pay a windfall tax. He also gives us a vital analysis of South Africa’s declining coal stocks.
The bad news (for environmentalists, there’s always bad news, a never-ending, prozac-snorting, litany of apocalyptic events) is that South Africa is seeking to ship its nuclear waste to other countries, Eskom may not keep the lights burning for too much longer, and R4 million in taxpayers’ money was wasted in a campaign to make nukes sexy.
However, before you reach for that bottle to drown away the sorrows (SENSE tip #34: red wine helps to prevent radiation poisoning, hence its popularity in the Cape), there a bushel full of good news. South Africa has a home-grown electric car, the Joule. Yeah! Right on! There’s also been a race of solar cars around the country, and the solar-water heating industry is booming. Renewable energy does make for good economics.
The last issue to report on is the Long-Term Mitigation Scenarios. The next edition of SENSE will present our critique of the LTMS. For now, let us at least recognise that South Africa does have a plan for climate change, something of a first.
Energy Policy Officer
Earthlife Africa Jhb
30th of Septmeber 2008