SENSE Number 55 April 2009

Number 55: April 2009


Welcome! SENSE is a service 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 does not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of Earthlife Africa Jhb and/or the SECCP.

Tel:+27 11 339-3662

To download a PDF copy of this SENSE edition, go to: sense-55-april-2009-final



1. Editorial
2. SECCP News: Sasol the Fossil Fool, Update on SASOL & CDM, Climate Change Research, Failure of PBMR, Submission to NERSA on Cost Recovery
3. SA Sustainable Energy News: REFIT Comes Right, REFIT Redux, The Gory Details of SWH Programme, Eskom Rumoured to Ditch Coal for Solar
4. SA Unsustainable Energy: Sasol Denied CDM Funding, China’s PBMR Lifeboat, Eskom’s Desperate Scramble for Coal, Western Cape Gas, Sonjica Presents Hefty Backlog Bill, Godsell’s “moderate” 34%
5. Energy Policy & Analysis: Energy Poverty, The Climate Disaster of CTL
6. African Energy News: New Oil Find in Libya, Tanzania and Wind, Zim’s Mammoth Energy Bill, Chinese Get Botswana Deal


1. Editorial

Nersa spoke and the ground shook. South Africa now has a renewable energy feed-in tariff (REFIT), with tariffs set at competitive, global rates. This marks a major change in the South African electricity sector. Wow.

Yet, the wind that blows is not all fair. Nersa refused to set tariffs for Solar PV and other forms of micro-generation; individuals got shafted, left only with a promise that a proposal would be promulgated in six months or so. Speaking of shafting the little guy, Eskom is attempting to pass through all costs from IPP purchases on to consumers. Why all consumers? Why not, as Earthlife suggests, on to heavy intensive users alone? Private industry pays for private power; surely isn’t that justice of the invisible fist?

Speaking of rising prices, Bobby Godsell thinks that a 34% price hike is “moderate”. Huh? What world is he living in? Anyway, moderation is not Eskom’s strong point. In new climate change research completed by Earthlife and Oxfam, Eskom’s carbon emissions are not exactly moderate. When one company accounts for roughly 50% of an entire nation’s emissions, that is excessive. The research also fingered another emissions culprit, Sasol, who’s coal-to-liquids technology is a climate change disaster. See the energy policy section on CTL boondoggle.

Keeping with Sasol (if it wasn’t for Sasol, these editorials would be a whole lot shorter), Sasol recently applied for CDM credits for a coal to gas conversion at its Secunda plant. They must have done the paperwork in between being slapped with fines for price-fixing. Earthlife objected to the UNFCCC, who rejected Sasol’s application: Maybe the UNFCCC objected to pure cheek of Sasol, who seem to have wanted to change the principle of “polluter pays” to “polluter paid”.

While SENSE is a sober publication, keeping to the highest standards of impartiality and quality, there is a little conspiracy theory we’d like to report on. In March this year, the Dalai Lama was denied a visa to visit South Africa for a peace conference. The denial of visa stemmed from Chinese pressure to prevent the Dalai Lama from presenting his wicked and seditious message of autonomy for Tibet within the People’s Republic. Human Rights Relations with Emerging Superpower 1, and screw the bleeding heart liberals in Sweden.

Also in March, the Chinese Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology signed a memorandum of understanding with the PBMR Company. Is there a quid pro quo here? Or mere happy chance? Whatever the case, PBMR Company has sniffed a lifeboat in the cold waters of technical delays and disappearing state funding. PBMR Company 1, Life Free from Radiation Poisoning 0.

You do the math. Speaking of facts and figures, research into energy poverty in South Africa from the NGO Cures reminds us that 2.5 million households are still without electricity; see this edition of SENSE for more. The greater blackout keeps on rolling on.

Tristen Taylor
Energy Policy Officer
Earthlife Africa Jhb
5th of May 2009

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