SUSTAINABLE ENERGY NEWS on EMAIL (SENSE)
Number 58: Jan. 2010
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.
2. SECCP News: Copenhagen Fails, Copenhagen is Failing, South Africa’s False Emissions Offer, Eskom’s Daft Idea, Sasol Gets an Award, Bye-bye Rio Tinto
3. SA Sustainable Energy News: Good Times for Wind Turbines, Wind equals Cheap Energy, World Bank told to Get Out of Coal, More South African Climate Promises, Green Investment x3, Eskom Buying Unit hived off from the Mothership?, Biogas Costs
4. SA Unsustainable Energy: Mmamabula Stumbles Again, Shell Explores the Karoo, Exposing South Africa’s Empty Promises, Sasol and Eskom Top Polluters, Gigajoule Told to Pound Sand
5. Energy Policy & Analysis: Copenhagen was a Disaster, Copenhagen was a BIG Disaster, Relief at End of Rio Tinto’s Coega Dream, Industrial Energy Usage
6. African Energy News: Angola’s Oil Struggle, Tunisia Gets UN Aid, African Tariff Increases
You might be forgiven for thinking that this issue would be all about Eskom’s ill-advised, ill-considered, and erroneous application to shaft ordinary South Africans with 35% annual increase for the next three years while continuing to give BHP Billiton a free ride. But you’re not forgiven, no one is, we are all going off the proverbial edge together.
Whilst Eskom has been putting in the boot and merrily chugging along with its real (but covert) plan of increasing CO2 emissions through building ever bigger and better coal-fired power stations so that drought blights the countryside and oceans boil, other important events in the energy sector are unfolding. Renewable energy generation is beginning to pick up within South Africa, with a whole host of companies seeking to build generation plants, in particular wind. Contrast this with the continuing problems at CIC’s Botswana plant (Mmamabula) and Areva’s perennial woes with its Finnish reactor, facts on the ground are proving the wisdom of investing in renewables.
In fact, wind is becoming so attractive that even the coal giant Exxarro, in stunning piece of greenwash almost reaching Sasol-like levels of hypocrisy, is building a wind farm. Heck, Eskom may no longer be the sole buyer, passing on in more ways than one.
Wisdom, however, is a rare and precious commodity. It was completely absent during the Dec. 2009 global negotiations on climate change. While the world’s scientists and citizens wrote papers & books, produced films, marched up and down streets, and basically yelled as loud as they could for a solution to rising carbon emissions and the increasing likelihood of ecological collapse, the world’s leaders serenely sat on their leather chairs, sipped their tea, had a biscuit or two, and made clear their continued support for the fossil fuel economy. Of course, post-Copenhagen, governments across the world have engaged in public finger-pointing and mutual recriminations for failing to agree on a post-2012 regime; behind the scenes, its been back-slapping, cigars and congratulations in preventing small things like fresh water, food, biodiversity and habitat protection from getting in the way of dividends from fossil fuel extraction and nice mahogany panelling for staterooms.
This edition of SENSE not only has analysis of Copenhagen’s shame, it also highlights how South Africa’s so-called emissions offer was, quite frankly, a great piece of PR. If you do the math, which we did at Earthlife, you’ll find that Government spin has turned our current development path (that’s right, building coal, CTL, and nukes) into an emissions reduction path. Amazing. SASOL should poach those guys; CTL would then save us from a new Ice Age.
Interestingly enough, this kind of spin doesn’t hold up forever. Over the last three years, we’ve watched the business press go from glassy eyed cheerleaders (with one or two notable exceptions) drugged up on Alcan/Rio Tinto smack, to rather clear-headed, sober and analytical commentators shedding the idea of new aluminium smelters in South Africa. As for Coega itself, we heard that a boat did dock at the harbour–making that nasty rumour of shipping companies sailing on by a downright fabrication–and that there is an outside chance for the manufacture of Belarussian tractors.
While SENSE loves to give stick (when it comes to Sasol, we prefer to swing with the literary equivalent of a two by four studded with rusty nails), it sometimes comes the other way. Stephen Grootes summed up the first day of the NERSA Gauteng hearings on tariffs for the Daily Maverick (22/01/2010):
“After a reasonable lunch, the greenie beanies took over. If Eskom claims we’re all gonna die without the price hikes, it’ll be Eskom that kills us. Earthlife Africa and Greenpeace Africa had a good old rail against the machine moment. They brought their brains, lots of good academic stuff, full of facts and figures about how ‘the world would be so much better if only…’ Earthlife felt the need to end their presentation with a slide of Chernobyl. Nothing like the soothing, grand gesture.”
Earthlife Africa Jhb
29th of Jan. 2010
Download the rest here