Sustainable Energy Briefing 14: Energy Policy in 2007
December 29, 2007
Press Release: Earthlife Africa calls for full and proper assessment of alternatives to the proposed Northern Free State coal-fired power station
January 15, 2008

Published by earthlife at


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.

Tel:        +27 11 339-3662



1. Editorial
2. SECCP News—Eskom’s Price Hikes and the Poor, LTMS, SMI, Energy Caucus
3. SA Sustainable Energy News—More Solar-powered Robots, SA Companies Do Renewables in Uganda
4. SA Unsustainable Energy‚ÄîThe Evil of Paraffin, Sasol’s CO2 Problem, Sasol’s Huge Profits, Pelindaba Security Breach, PetroSA Gets Some Action
5. SA Energy Policy & Analysis‚ÄîPresident Mbeki’s Confession on Load-shedding, Africa’s Nuke Future, Municipalites to Pay
6. African Energy News—Museveni on Climate Change, Zimbabwe Gets Cut-off, Botswana Falls for Coal, Zimbabwe and Biodiesel, Western Companies Drool Over African Energy
7. Events


1. Editorial

Happy 2008, be safe, have fun, and may Eskom not load-shed you.

Speaking of load-shedding, Agence France-Presse reports on a startling confession from President Mbeki who is quoted as having said, “When Eskom said to the government: ‘We think we must invest more in terms of electricity generation’, we said no, but all you will be doing is just to build excess capacity. We said not now, later. We were wrong. Eskom was right. We were wrong.”

Most unfortunately, the citizens of South Africa are paying for that mistake through enforced darkness. And, that mistake is being compounded in Eskom’s current capacity drive. Despite strong evidence, the job creation, health and environmental benefits of renewable energy are being totally ignored by Eskom and the Government. So much so, that South African companies specialising in renewable technologies are working in Uganda rather than back home.

Instead, Eskom and the Government have chosen the same old dirty and risky energy path of coal and nukes (with rising costs, now R300 billion, up from R150 billion a few months ago). As the ELA-Jhb press release below shows, poor users will have to bear increased tariff costs, further cutting into over-stretched household budgets.

For those who think that our nuclear industry is safe and that attacks on our nuclear reactors are a thing of the past, a group of armed men invaded Pelindaba in November and shot an employee. In the Energy Policy section of SENSE, the Atomic Bulletin of Scientists warns of the consequences of safety breaches at nuclear facilities. Simpler not have nukes in the first place; windmill proliferation doesn’t quite strike the same level of gut-wrenching fear.

While governments, scientists and civil society organisations from around the world were engaged in climate change negotiations in Bali (Dec. 2007) to limit greenhouse, SASOL kept on pumping out CO2 like tomorrow will never come (despite shareholder protest, see article in this edidtion), making money hand over fist. So, while Christmas bonuses were probably quite sweet at SASOL in 2007, it will be Africa’s poor that will pay the ultimate cost for SASOL’s CO2 emissions as water becomes scarce, agricultural yields drop, environmental refugees cross borders, and sea levels rise. Once again, the costs of environmentally damaging energy generation will be borne disporportionally by the poor.

Something else that should give pause for consideration is the current move of the World Economic Forum, in conjunction with private companies, to make a bid to own African power generation. This is the logic of neoliberalism and robber-baron corporatism brought to its ultimate conclusion; the Californization of Africa.

The good news is that more South African traffic lights will be solar powered.

Tristen Taylor
Energy Policy Officer
Earthlife Africa Jhb
11th of January 2008

Download (pdf) the rest of this edition at: sense-48-jan-2008

Sustainable Energy Briefing 14: Energy Policy in 2007
December 29, 2007
Press Release: Earthlife Africa calls for full and proper assessment of alternatives to the proposed Northern Free State coal-fired power station
January 15, 2008

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *