[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Earthlife Africa's energy newsletter
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Wed May 13 05:42:30 BST 2009
SUSTAINABLE ENERGY NEWS on EMAIL (SENSE)
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
Email: seccp at earthlife.org.za
To download a PDF copy of this SENSE edition, go to:
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
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
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 0, 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.
Energy Policy Officer
Earthlife Africa Jhb
5th of May 2009
2. SECCP News
Press Release: Fossil Fools Day 2009, Sasol to Get An Award
Earthlife Africa Jhb
31st of March 2009
In the midst of a declining global environment due to rising greenhouse
gas emissions, April 1st has become Fossil Fools day. Across the global,
activities and companies that contribute significantly to global warming
are highlighted. In South Africa, activists from Earthlife Africa Jhb
and allies will be highlighting the role Sasol plays in warming our planet.
From 12:00 to 14:00 on the 1st of April 2009, protestors will converge
on Sasol’s Corporate Headquarters in Johannesburg (1 Sturdee Avenue,
Rosebank) to present Sasol with the “South Africa’s Fossil Fool of 2009”
It takes hard work, years of application, and significant capital
investment to win a Fossil Fool Award. The decision to award Sasol the
2009 title was based upon:
1) For producing 72.6 million tonnes of greenhouse gases annually; total
annual greenhouse gas emissions for South Africa are 446 million tonnes
of carbon dioxide-equivalent.
2) For planning to build a new 80,000 barrels/day coal-to-liquids plant
in South Africa. This would add an estimated 23 to 37 million tons of
carbon dioxide into the atmosphere on an annual basis.
3) For fixing prices of its goods, both in South Africa and Europe.
Happy Fossil Fools Day!
Press Release: Update on Sasol's CDM Funding: UNFCCC Rejects Application
Earthlife Africa Jhb
30th of March 2009
The prospects of Sasol receiving CDM funding for its gas conversion at
its Secunda plant worsened this month. The United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change's (UNFCCC) technical body (Meth Panel)
assessed Sasol's application for CDM credits and has recommended that
the application be rejected. The problems with Sasol's application are
so deep that it will have to provide a new submission and restart the
process from scratch.
Earthlife Africa Jhb agrees with the Meth Panel's finding; see list of
documents below. Earthlife Africa Jhb and the South Durban Community
Environmental Alliance sent in a formal objection to the UNFCCC
regarding Sasol's application for CDM funding. In particular, Earthlife
Africa Jhb agrees with the following statements from the Final
Recommendations of the Meth Panel:
“A forecast of the availability of the alternative feeds (i.e. coal and
natural gas) during the crediting period should be provided and
validated by the DOE; e.g. would the baseline coal mine be depleted
before the end of the crediting period, and probably the project
activity [natural gas] would become the baseline?”
“This methodology is intended to be applicable to project activities
including the development of a new natural gas source: 'This methodology
is also appropriate for those projects which include an associated
requirement to develop a new natural gas resource to provide the natural
gas for the feedstock conversion'. However, if project participants wish
to include all the expenses of developing a new natural gas source for
demonstrating additionality, the methodology should include guidance on
how to select the baseline for the natural gas supply (e.g develop a new
gas source, imported CNG, purchased from third party), and how to assess
the revenues from the natural gas well exploitation in the additionality
assessment. This is also required as the infrastructure developed for
processing and sending the natural gas to the syngas plant (i.e. project
activity), can be easily used to sell surplus natural gas to other users
in the area near the NG transmission line.”
The Meth Panel's rejection of the Sasol application means that the
application fails at the first critical point of enquiry. Sasol is now
required to start the process from the beginning, which would be its
third attempt on this matter. As Tristen Taylor, Energy Policy Officer
at Earthlife Africa Jhb, states:
“The UNFCCC's technical analysis has pointed out serious doubts
regarding the additionality of Sasol's submission and glaring omissions
in terms of emissions. For example, the UNFCCC states that Sasol did not
include leakage from natural gas pipelines. This is critical as methane
is 20 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. We would
strongly suggest that Sasol ends this charade and give up on the idea of
gaming the CDM system.”
List of Documents:
1) UNFCCC Meth Panel Final Recommendations
2) UNFCCC Summary of Recommendations
Can be found at:
3) Earthlife Africa Jhb's Formal Objection to UNFCCC
4) Original Earthlife Press Release on Sasol's CDM Application
Can be found at:
Press Release: An Invitation to the Launch of “Climate Change,
Development, and Energy Problems: Another World is Possible”
Earthlife Africa Jhb
23rd of Feb. 2009
Date: 26th of Feb. 2009
Time: 17:30 to 19:45
Venue: Old Fort Atrium, Constitutional Hill, Braamfontein, JHB
RSVP: Tel: 011 339-3662, Email: seccp at earthlife.org.za
Earthlife Africa Jhb, in partnership with Oxfam International, warmly
extends an invitation to members of the press to attend the launch of
new research on the effects of climate change in South Africa and the
impediments to proposed mitigation strategies.
This research shows that South Africa’s often fragile and degraded
environment will only decay further as climate change takes effect.
These effects include drought, lower food yields, species extinction,
and loss of livelihoods.
Furthermore, the report critically examines government and industrial
policies and concludes that certain industrial concerns are blocking
efforts to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.
Ferrial Adam and Rehana Dada are the co-authors of this research. The
report can be downloaded at: http://www.earthlife.org.za/?p=469
Press Release: No Amount of Redesign Will Save the PBMR
Earthlife Africa Jhb
18th of Feb. 2009
With the PBMR Company seeking to redesign the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor
(PBMR) to focus more on heat applications, it is imperative to note that
disadvantages of continuing with the PBMR remain.
The Pebble Bed Modular Reactor has become a black hole for public funds.
The costs involved in the PBMR saga are illustrative of the financial
risks inherent in nuclear power in general.
In 1999, the PMBR (165MW capacity) construction costs were budgeted at
R2 billion. By 2005, these construction costs had risen by a factor of
seven, to R14 billion without a single PBMR being constructed. These
costs do not include the decommissioning costs, which will be considerable.
Based upon the 2008 Environmental Impact Assessment for the PBMR
Demonstration Reactor and the decommissioning costs for of the
predecessor to the PBMR—the German AVR—the costs to decommission a
single PBMR range from R1.5 billion to R70 billion. It is nearly
impossible, due to the lifespan of the reactor and the variable rates of
contamination, to be more exact than this. Hence, the decommissioning
costs of the PBMR are uncertain and could incur a heavy burden on future
generations, absorbing funds for vital social programmes.
An additional expense will be the waste storage costs, which are
impossible to calculate due to the long-term nature of storing waste;
for example, uranium-235 has a half-life of 704 million years,
plutonium-239 a half-life of 24,110 years, and caesium a half-life of
30.2 years. These kinds of timeframes defy economic planning, and, given
our pressing social needs, should not be entertained.
The costs for the PBMR are not efficient in terms of power generation.
For example, Eskom is seeking finance of R5 billion to build a
concentrated solar plant (100MW) in the Northern Cape; R14 billion for
165MW or R5 billion for 100MW capacity, economic sense favours the solar
plant. This also excludes the costs associated with the security
apparatus necessary for the PMBR.
Nuclear materials and equipment need to be protected and highly
regulated, due to the threat of contamination and theft. The
consequences of radioactive material in the hands on malicious
organisations could have profoundly negative consequences and has to be
avoided at all costs. While currently unquantifiable at this stage,
these security costs will be passed onto the state and are unique to
nuclear power. Other forms of energy generation (including heat
generation) do not require these increased security costs.
No matter how much the PBMR Company and the Department of Minerals and
Energy seek to spin the matter, the PBMR has been a waste of vital
public funds and will continue to be so until abandoned.
Comments to NERSA on Regulatory Rules for Power Purchase Recovery
Earthlife Africa Jhb
Date: 16th of April 2009
NERSA sent out a call for submission regarding its regulatory rules for
“passing through costs” in regards to independent power producers.
Essentially, Eskom is seeking permission to pass the costs it incurres
from purchasing electricity from IPPs to its customers.
The main thrust of Earthlife Africa Jhb’s concerns surround Section
3.1.2 of NERSA proposal. The factors determine the cost effectiveness of
a purchase from an IPP seem to exclude certain important considerations
and are vague in other areas. Further, there is the related and crucial
point not addressed within the NERSA documentation of to whom these
costs will be passed through to.
These issues are vital considering South Africa’s socio-economic blight
of poverty and NERSA’s specific mandate to “facilitate universal access
to electricity”. Earthlife Africa Jhb suggests that the costs from power
purchases from IPPs be passed directly on to energy intensive users alone.
Download the entire submission at:
3. SA Sustainable Energy News
Industry, greens applaud SAfrica's renewable tariff
By Agnieszka Flak
2nd of April 2009
JOHANNESBURG, April 2 (Reuters) - South Africa's new renewable energy
tariffs are a breakthrough in the country's efforts towards a more
sustainable climate change and energy agenda, analysts and
environmentalists said on Thursday. The country's power regulator set
renewable energy tariffs this week to boost investments in the sector
and to meet South Africa's target of having 2 percent of the country's
power output or 10,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) from renewables by 2013.
Analysts said the approved tariffs surpassed the expectations of even
the most optimistic industry players and will be key to drive the
industry forward, especially to generate power from wind.
"This is the biggest change in the electricity generation sector since
utility Eskom was established in 1923," said Tristen Taylor, energy
policy officer at think-tank Earthlife. "The tariffs look fair, now it's
up to the renewables industry to deliver."
Frost & Sullivan energy analyst Sipha Ndawande said renewable energy
project developers had so far attracted interest from international
investors, but launching of their projects was delayed by lack of
"The government has taken a huge stride forward with the revised
renewable energy tariffs," he said in a statement.
The tariff sets out the price per unit of electricity to be paid for
renewable energy generated by private power producers. The country will
pay 1.25 rand for a killowatt hour produced from wind, 0.94 rand for the
same from hydro, 0.90 rand from landfill gas and 2.10 rand for power
from concentrated solar.
Taylor said the only disappointment was that micro generation projects
were not included in the tariffs, but added the power regulator had
promised to include them in the future.
Ndawande said it would take up to four years before the bulk of wind
farms will be commissioned. "The wind power market will be driven by an
increasing number of joint ventures between project developers with
local knowledge and private equity investment firms, backed by the
support of international wind turbine manufacturers," he said.
The new tariffs will also serve as an incentive for municipalities to
become involved in power generation, he said.
South Africa, the largest emitter on the continent, depends on coal for
90 percent of its electricity needs. Moves to diversify to other energy
sources have so far stalled due to a lack of policy framework and
incentives for investors. The renewables tariff has long been
anticipated to stimulate large-scale investments, with other incentives
mulled by the government for the future.
While only a few concentrated solar power projects are expected to be
undertaken in the country due to the large capital investment and
expertise required, Ndawande expects an exponential rise in the number
of landfill gas projects.
"If we assume that 85 percent of the announced large scale renewable
energy projects are executed in the country, electricity produced from
renewable energy will overshoot (the 10,000 GWh) target quite
substantially," he said.
South Africa Introduces Aggressive Feed-in Tariffs
by Paul Gipe, Contributing Writer
10th of April 2009
South Africa's National Energy Regulator (NERSA) announced March 31,
2009 the introduction of a system of feed-in tariffs designed to produce
10 TWh of electricity per year by 2013. The feed-in tariffs announced
were substantially higher than those in NERSA's original proposal. The
tariffs, differentiated by technology, will be paid for a period of 20
Dr. Ruth Rabinowitz, a member of the South African parliament for the
Inkatha Freedom Party said that NERSA's tariffs reduce the need for the
legislature to act on feed-in tariffs.
NERSA said in its release that the tariffs were based, as in most
European countries, on the cost of generation plus a reasonable profit.
The tariffs for wind energy and concentrating solar power are among the
most attractive worldwide.
The tariff for wind energy, 1.25 ZAR/kWh (€0.104/kWh, $0.14 USD/kWh,
$0.17 CAD/kWh) is greater than that offered in Germany (€0.092/kWh) and
more than that proposed in Ontario, Canada ($0.135 CAD/kWh). The tariff
for concentrating solar, 2.10 ZAR/kWh (€0.175/kWh), is less than that in
Spain (€0.278/kWh), but offers great promise in the bright sunlight of
South Africa. NERSA's revised program followed extensive public
Stefan Gsänger, Secretary General of the World Wind Energy Association
said in a release that "South Africa is the first African country to
introduce a feed-in tariff for wind energy. Many small and big investors
will now be able to contribute to the take-off of the wind industry in
the country. Such decentralised investment will enable South Africa to
overcome its current energy crisis. It will also help many South African
communities to invest in wind farms and generate electricity, new jobs
and new income. We are especially pleased as this decision comes shortly
after the first North American feed-in law has been proposed by the
Government of the Canadian Province of Ontario."
Solar geyser target intact, but financing and regulatory challenges persist
By Guy Copans
27th of March 2009
There was much enthusiasm at the beginning of 2008 for the mass
deployment of solar water heaters (SWHs) to deal with South Africa’s
then obvious power constraints. But as demand has slowed and the system
has seemingly stabilised, that enthusiasm seems to have ebbed somewhat
and there are persistent questions about whether it is indeed an urgent
priority for South Africa’s authorities.
In an effort to put an end to any doubt, Eskom renewable portfolio
manager Cedric Worthmann has provided the reassurance that Eskom’s SWHs
programme is definitely going ahead. He even explains why the programme
has appeared to have been slow in taking off.
“We had to first regulate the solar industry, as there was no minimum
standard. We have been spending a lot of time creating a platform in the
background, so as to create comfort and ease with the programme,” he
He also labels the start of the programme as a success and adds that he
is positive about the direction in which it is heading.
“As with any fledgling industry, there are many barriers, and we are
working to remove those barriers,” he says.
Last year, on September 26, Engineering News reported on government and
industry initiatives to convert conventional geysers in South African
households into solar-powered geysers. This publication also reported
that Eskom intended a mass roll-out of SWHs in South Africa, through its
SWH rebate programme, while City Power MD Silas Zimu said City Power
planned to install SWHs in all households in Johannesburg before 2010.
There has, however, appeared to be little obvious movement on the
matter, sparking some speculation that the initiative was moribund. Not
so, says Worthmann.
Eskom spent the first year of the programme trying to open up the
market, to make the consumers and all the stakeholders, such as
financial institutions and manufacturers, comfortable with solar
equipment. He states that the first goal was to establish the market,
and, in this regard, Eskom is satisfied with the progress made so far.
He notes that Eskom had an internal target of 1 000 units to be
installed for the first financial year and, to date, 850 units have been
installed and 800 rebates paid out.
The ultimate goal, he says, is to install about one-million SWH geysers
in a five-year period.
IS THE PROGRAMME STILL NEEDED?
Former Eskom CEO Thulani Gcabashe, who is involved in the programme,
says that SWHs provide ample opportunity for an energy-stressed South
“There is no more ideal source for water heating than SWHs, and if
introduced at scale, it will impact on the peak demand and the overall
baseload supply. It has also been proven that one can expect as much as
a 35% or 40% reduction in household bills by using SWHs in the home,” he
Gcabashe says that, over the past ten years, South Africa has had a
steady decline in its reserve margin from 27% in 1999 to about 5% in 2007.
“Supply has not kept up with demand. Without other supply options and
energy- efficiency programmes, it will take over ten years to recover
reasonable reserve margin on our power system. However, with effective
supply- and demand-side options, a target reserve margin of about 15%
could be realised within the next five years. SHWs are, therefore, a
significant opportunity for realising these benefits,” he states.
Gcabashe notes that there is ample solar energy opportunity in Africa.
In sub-Saharan Africa, there are 229 days on average in a year of
adequate sunlight, and in the Southern African region, on the worst day
of the year, there is still five to seven hours of adequate sunlight.
Read the rest at:
South Africa energy sector reform central in climate talks
By Agnieszka Flak
6th of March 2009
MIDRAND, South Africa (Reuters) - Reform of its coal-dependent energy
sector is central to South Africa's climate change debate, but consensus
on the best way forward is still elusive, a climate conference concluded
on Friday. Representatives from the government, unions, industry and
environmental groups met at the four-day event to help shape South
Africa's climate change policy, to be wrapped into a fiscal, regulatory
and legislative package by 2012.
"Strong consensus on making the transition to a climate resilient and
low-carbon economy and society will underpin our future work," said
Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk.
But more work is needed to balance the varying viewpoints.
"Most importantly on the optimal energy mix for the country -- this is
the single most important area of work," he said.
South Africa, the largest emitter on the continent and 12th in the
world, depends on coal for 90 percent of its power. The country, often
commended for being most active among developing countries in fighting
climate change, set a target to cap emissions by 2020-25, and to reduce
them by mid-century. But moves to diversify the energy mix have stalled
due to a lack of policy framework and incentives for investors, which
the government now hopes to change by introducing a feed-in tariff for
renewables, a possible escalating carbon tax or subsidies.
Ferrial Adam, a researcher for think-tank Earthlife, said rather than
organizing conferences and drafting policy, South Africa should focus on
implementation and adaptation instead.
"The problem is not the policy but putting it into action; climate
change is here, we need to deal with it now," she said.
State-owned utility Eskom and petrochemicals group Sasol, together
responsible for more than 70 percent of the emissions, have been targets
of wide criticism for not tackling the issue and even making it worse by
building plants. But Eskom's Climate Change and Sustainability Manager
Mandy Rambharos said the utility was bound by financial constraints.
"We can't fund renewables from our own balance sheet -- it has to come
from international funds or from subsidies where the government, not us,
has to take the lead," she said.
Think-tanks have urged government to take a more radical stance to urge
Eskom and Sasol to work on an emission cap, and not to approve new
plants without a carbon capture readiness. But enforcing it is difficult
as the government tries to balance climate concerns with a chronic power
shortage that has forced the utility to ration electricity since early
Eskom said it might decide on solar for its next baseload plant,
signaling a first big move away from its coal base. The government also
plans to split the current department of minerals and energy into two
separate entities, giving each its own focus, and hoping to silence
critics who blame it for using the energy sector to support the mining
Delegates said a full-scale deal on emission curbs may not be reached at
a meeting of nearly 200 nations in Copenhagen later this year, with too
many diverging interests at stake.
4. SA Unsustainable Energy
SASOL: Greenwash continues
By Prakash Naidoo
3rd of April 2009
Sasol's application to the United Nations to let it produce and sell
carbon credits through its coal-to-liquids plant has failed at the first
technical stage. The application related to a 645 km natural gas
pipeline from Mozambique to its Secunda plant and, depending on the
price of carbons, could have netted the company as much as R1bn annually.
Sasol filed the application with the UN's Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC) Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to produce and
sell carbon credits, along with the requisite gas conversion and
processing technology. But a notice posted on the UNFCCC website last
week said the technical committee, known as the Meth Panel, has
recommended that the application be rejected.
It would appear from the panel's findings that the problems with Sasol's
application are so deep that should it decide to reapply, it will have
to restart the process from scratch. Sasol was unaware of the findings
when contacted last Friday but said early this week it had noted the
initial findings and will await the full report.
"Once we have been able to review the details of the findings we will
consider our next steps," said Sasol's communications manager Jacqui
The reasons for the rejection are highly technical but relate largely to
the fact that Sasol didn't present enough of a financial plan to show
that it had costed out all the alternatives; it didn't account for the
partial coal emissions and that no provision was made for pipeline leakages.
The global average for leakages is around 7%.
The rejection of the Sasol application means that it has failed at the
first critical point of inquiry and should the company decide to start
the process from the beginning, it will be the third attempt on this
project. Sasol's application for CDM funding was widely opposed by
environmental groups, with Earthlife Africa and the South Durban
Community Environmental Alliance having sent in formal objections.
"We would strongly suggest that Sasol ends this charade and gives up on
the idea of gaming the CDM system," says Earthlife Africa's Tristan Taylor.
South Africa, China join forces in commercialisation of pebble bed
Power Engineering International
30th of March 2009
The advancement of the next generation of nuclear reactors has received
a boost with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in
Beijing between the Chinese and the South African developers of pebble
Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (Pty) Ltd (PBMR) of South Africa has been
developing the pebble bed technology in parallel with the Institute of
Nuclear and New Energy Technology (INET) of Tsinghua University and
Chinergy Co Ltd of China, whose pebble bed concept is based on a 10 MW
(thermal) research reactor that was started up in Beijing in December
2000 and achieved full power operation in January 2003.
INET is a top nuclear research and experimental institute in China.
The MOU, based on mutual respect and appreciation for the developments
achieved by both countries to date, is designed to facilitate
cooperation on identified areas of common interest. South Africa and
China hope to pursue collaboration in a number of strategic and
technical areas relating to high temperature reactor (HTR) projects in
Prof Zhang Zouyi, Director of INET, says the MOU will create a strategic
environment for the two parties to work together. He added that the MOU
was the result of natural synergies between the South African and
Chinese HTR project teams, which were highlighted at an HTR conference
in Washington DC in 2008. The Washington meeting was followed by a visit
to South Africa by representatives from INET and Chinergy Co Ltd,
earlier in 2009, in order to devise a framework for cooperation.
PBMR CEO Jaco Kriek welcomed the collaboration with China. He said the
MOU will create interesting opportunities for the future
commercialisation of the technology and strengthen supply chains in both
countries, with the support of both the Chinese and South African
As emerging economies, both South Africa and China have extensive energy
requirements, with an emphasis on increasing nuclear energy as part of
the energy mix.
"While the two projects have chosen slightly different technical
approaches, we both fully believe that high temperature, gas-cooled
reactors using pebble fuel offer the best potential for sustainable,
clean, reliable and safe sources of energy globally," says Kriek.
He added that China's commitment to the technology, along with the
ongoing PBMR project, further demonstrates the potential for advanced
reactor technologies with passive, inherently safe characteristics.
"The pebble bed technology will bring a a new option to the energy
market in the near future which offers flexible, smart grid solutions
for electricity, customer-centric process heat and steam solutions for
petrochemical industries, oil sands extraction and desalination. It will
also pave the way to high temperature hydrogen production."
South Africa and China are widely recognised as world leaders in the
field of high temperature reactor design. Both South African and Chinese
technologies use the same pebble fuel concept as a source of heat. The
first commercial-scale plant (HTR-PM) in China will make use of indirect
cycle, steam turbine systems, while PBMR has been developing a direct
cycle gas turbine system.
The HTR-PM features two 250 MW (thermal) reactor modules and a 210 MW
(electric) steam turbine-generator set.
Eskom says SAfrica needs 40 new coal mines by 2020
By Agnieszka Flak
11th of March 2009
JOHANNESBURG, March 11 (Reuters) - South Africa's utility Eskom
[ESCJ.UL] said on Wednesday the country would need to invest up to 110
billion rand ($10.52 billion) in coal mining by 2020 and build at least
40 new coal mines in that time. State-owned Eskom said Africa's biggest
economy, which is in the grip of a power shortage, will need to produce
374 million tonnes of coal by 2018 to meet growing demand.
"We will need 40 mines to be opened requiring a large number of mining
rights to be awarded in a short period of time ... we will need between
90-110 billion rand to be invested in coal mines by 2020," Eskom's coal
specialist Johan Dempers told a coal, carbon and energy conference in
South Africa's Coal Supply Difficulties Will Impede Energy Delivery
Frost & Sullivan
16th of April 2009
An investment of between R90 billion and R110 billion is required to
build 40 new coal mines to meet the projected growth in domestic and
export demand for coal over the next decade in South Africa. Frost &
Sullivan believes this investment will be crucial to ensure that the
country's energy needs are met.
"South Africa's energy intensive economy is overwhelmingly dependent on
coal," explains Frost & Sullivan metals and mining analyst Wonder
Nyanjowa. "This fossil fuel provides about 75% of the country's primary
energy needs, supports 90% of the electricity generated and provides
feedstock for the country's synthetic fuels manufacturing plants."
Coal is also used directly as a fuel in the steel, cement and brick
manufacturing industries. The limited availability of alternative energy
sources and the apparent indecision regarding nuclear energy point
towards coal's continued domination of the country's energy mix.
Read the rest at:
S. African Field May Supply Natural Gas by 2012, Bus. Day Says
By Paul Richardson
18th of March 2009
South Africa’s Ibhubesi natural gas field may begin supplying natural
gas and condensate to the Western Cape province’s industrial and
power-generation industries by 2012, Business Day reported.
The project, off the west coast of South Africa, has the potential to
produce 3.65 million gigajoules of energy a year for its estimated
lifespan of 30 years, the Johannesburg-based newspaper said, citing John
Langhuis, commercial director of U.S.-based Forest Exploration.
South Africa: Lack of Electricity Infrastructure Costs R2 Billion Per Year
By Michael Appel
3rd of March 2009
The current lack of electricity infrastructure and the inefficient way
it is being distributed is costing the country's economy R2 billion per
annum. Addressing the media on Tuesday, Minister of Minerals and Energy
Buyelwa Sonjica said the delay of restructuring the country's
electricity distribution processes has been costly for the country.
"It is about R2 billion per annum, while the backlog in infrastructure
is estimated at R27 billion," she said.
The minister said the department was therefore working hard to
accelerate the restructuring of EDI Holdings by ensuring the legislative
and policy environment was conducive.
EDI Holdings has been mandated by government to establish, via the
restructuring of the company, six wall to wall Regional Electricity
Distributors (REDS). The creation of six REDS which will deliver
affordable, reliable and sustainable electricity to all South Africans
is necessary to deal with the inefficient distribution of electricity in
Ms Sonjica said the restructuring of the current 188 electricity
distributors into six REDS was an enormous task.
Read the rest at: http://allafrica.com/stories/200903030443.html
Eskom Plans ‘Moderate’ Tariff Increase, Godsell Says (Update1)
By Nasreen Seria
30th of March 2009
Eskom Holdings Ltd., South Africa’s state-owned power utility, plans to
keep tariff increases “as moderate as possible” because of the slowdown
in economic growth, Chairman Bobby Godsell said.
“If prices are too high, we’ll lose sales and revenue,” Godsell said in
an interview in Johannesburg late yesterday. Eskom will be making its
application for a tariff increase to the National Energy Regulator soon,
Godsell said, declining to say what the amount will be or when it will
submit its request.
The power company, which supplies most of South Africa’s electricity,
needs funding for a 343 billion-rand ($35.1 billion), five-year
expansion project to increase capacity. Power shortages led to gold,
platinum and other mines being closed for about five days in January
“There are three objectives that determine our tariff policy,” Godsell
said. “We want to move to full cost recovery; secondly, we want to keep
the build program going and thirdly, we want to keep tariffs as moderate
as possible given the state of the economy.”
South Africa’s economy, the biggest on the continent, will probably
expand 1.2 percent this year compared with growth of 3.1 percent in
2008, according to government forecasts. The economy contracted at an
annualized rate of 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter, its first decline
in a decade.
Lower Price Rise
Eskom is likely to apply to raise electricity prices by 34 percent in
the coming year, down from the 88 percent increase it was considering a
few weeks ago, Business Day reported today, without saying where it got
the information. South Africa’s annual inflation rate is currently 8.6
The power utility is yet to submit its application to the energy
regulator and it is “premature to comment” on the tariffs, Ayanda Shezi,
spokeswoman for the Public Enterprises Ministry, said in a text message
Eskom raised tariffs by 27.5 percent last year, less than half the
amount it initially asked the regulator to approve. The utility, which
has the capacity to produce about 40,000 megawatts of power, is Africa’s
largest electricity generator.
5. Energy Policy & Analysis
2,5 million households without electricity
4th of March 2009
About 2,5-million households in South Africa do not have electricity,
according to the results of a study released on Wednesday.
"Over four million households do not cook with electricity and two
million households rely on candles for lighting," according to the study
by Citizens United for Renewable Energies and Sustainability (CURES).
"This is in a country that has over 36,000MW of installed power
generation capacity, its own nuclear power plant and one of the largest
electricity utilities in the world," the study says.
Some 70 percent of rural households rely on wood fuel and paraffin even
though some of them having electricity, the study shows. It also reveals
that South Africa's Integrated National Electrification Programme has
raised the level of electrification from 36 percent in 1993 to 80
percent by 2007.
"What this impressive rate of electrification hides is the bias towards
urban electrification and the fact that it is the rural poor who largely
comprise the millions of households lacking access to the grid," the
"Rural electrification rates are still between 50 and 60 percent leaving
well over two million households without access to the grid.
Such disparities will not be easily remedied as rural electrification is
far more costly than urban and the electrification budget has been
steadily decreasing over the years.
"In addition, rural areas are less frequently targeted as investors fear
lower returns than the more dense and lucrative urban markets."
Annie Sugrue, co-ordinator for CURES Southern Africa, said the poor are
largely excluded from benefiting from the cheap energy that modern
society gets from fossil fuels.
Read the rest at:
Download the Cures Report at:
Coal-to-Liquid Is a Boondoggle
Center for American Progress
6th of September 2007
“We are simply running out of time to avoid catastrophic warming, and we
no longer have the luxury of grossly misallocating capital and fuels to
expensive boondoggles like coal to liquid,” Center for American Progress
Senior Fellow Joe Romm told the House Science and Technology
Subcommittee on Energy and Environment yesterday. Proponents claim that
coal-to-liquid technologies can reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
Romm emphasized that “Congress should only promote those [energy]
strategies that promote net societal benefits.” Coal-to-liquid is not
one of those strategies. The environmental harm it would cause is not
worth the additional fuel, and when Congress implements effective carbon
caps, the process may simply fade from economic viability.
Coal-to-liquid technology liquefies coal into conventional fuel for
diesel, jet, or car engines. The process itself is expensive, and it
also requires large energy inputs that are often derived from fossil
fuels that release C02, along with large water inputs. This costly
process produces gasoline that releases C02 when it is burned.
From production to combustion, CTL fuel could release as much as 2.5
times as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as conventional diesel
fuel, according to an analysis by the Argonne National Laboratory cited
by David Hawkins of the National Resources Defense Council.
Coal-to-liquid advocates point to Carbon Capture and Sequestration
technology as the solution to minimize additional greenhouse gas
emissions created during the conversion process. But CCS technologies
are not yet in use on large industrial scales, and Romm warned that,
“there is no evidence whatsoever that this country is serious about
CCS.” Carbon dioxide captured during the carbon-to-liquid process could
be pumped into saline aquifers and other geologic formations for
indefinite storage, or into depleted oil wells, forcing out unreachable
stores of oil, which refiners could then turn into additional fuel. From
the perspective of reducing greenhouse emissions, Romm pointed out that
at the end of the latter process, “you’ve accomplished nothing.”
Even with CCS, the emissions from coal to liquid could still be 19
percent higher than conventional fuels. These emission levels, Romm
explained, will not get us to the 60 to 80 percent reductions all
industrialized nations need to make by 2050 in order to curb the effects
of global warming.
Representatives from the coal and energy industries, including past
president of the American Coal Council John Ward, testified that the
industry requires federal support for commercialization of
coal-to-liquid production. Yet Hawkins pointed out that taking a
fuel-specific approach to addressing United States energy needs makes
little sense. “If the objective is to back out of oil or reduce
greenhouse gas emissions,” he said, “then don't pick a fuel or
technology, but implement regulations that benefit all comers.”
Fortunately, in order to avert the disaster that would result from
widespread coal-to-liquid production, all Congress has to do is proceed
with capping national carbon emissions. Citing a January 2007 report
from the U.S. Energy Information Administration examining the impact of
the proposed Bingaman bill, Romm explained in written testimony that,
“In the EIA analysis, the permit price starts around $4 a ton of carbon
dioxide in 2012, rises to $7.15 in 2020 and reaches only $14.18 in 2030.
This is a relatively low price for carbon dioxide. ... In short, a
relatively low price for carbon dioxide wipes out the vast majority of
If our objective is to reduce carbon emissions, the regulations
necessary to hit reduction targets will simply render some technologies
too expensive to provide consumers with fuel at competitive prices. “The
future of coal in a carbon-constrained world,” explained Romm, “is
electricity generation with carbon capture and storage, not CTL plus
carbon capture and storage.” The best use of coal is burning it for
electricity, and the best use of coal for transportation is using that
electricity to charge the power cells in hybrid cars.
Carbon caps will work. Freon and other chlorofluorocarbons were cheap,
readily available coolants tearing holes in the ozone layer until
international treaties banned those chemicals. Industry responded and
now alternative refrigerants, propellants, and solvents are widely
available and inexpensive. Straightforward carbon regulation will
likewise open new routes to energy independence like biofuels, and in
particular cellulosic ethanol, which can reduce carbon emissions
dramatically while reenergizing U.S. agriculture.
Download the testimony as a PDF:
6. African Energy News
Algeria’s Sonatrach Finds Oil in Libya’s Ghadames Region
By Maher Chmaytelli
13th of April 2009
Sonatrach, Algeria’s state energy company, said it found oil at a well
in Libya. Test production from the well, called A1-65/02 in the region
of Ghadames, 230 kilometers (143 miles) south of Tripoli, delivered
1,344 barrels a day of crude and 1.88 million cubic feet of natural gas
a day, the Algiers-based company said in a statement on its Web site today.
“It is the first discovery made in bloc 65,” a region where Sonatrach
won exploration rights at a tender by the Libyan government in March
2005, the company said.
Libya’s state-run National Oil Corp. is a partner with Sonatrach in the
venture exploring for petroleum in this area, according to the
statement. Under the agreement between the two companies, National Oil
will take 75 percent of any production, and Sonatrach, the operator of
the license, 25 percent.
Libya and Algeria are members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting
Countries. Libya has Africa’s largest oil reserves, while Algeria is
Africa’s largest crude producer after Angola, Nigeria and Libya.
South Korean Group May Build 210-Megawatt Wind Farm in Tanzania
23rd of March 2009
A group of South Korean investors plans to build a 210-megawatt
wind-power farm in Tanzania’s central Singida region by 2011 at a cost
of $400 million, Chris Incheul Chae, chief executive officer of Good P.M
Group, said. The project, which comprises of 100 wind-generating
turbines of up to 60 feet each (18.3 meters), will be located about 150
kilometers (94 miles) northwest of Tanzania’s capital, Dodoma, Chae,
said today in an interview at Stone Town in Zanzibar.
Chae’s group has signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire the
500-hectare (1,235-acre) property in Singida from Tanzania’s Power Pool
East Africa Ltd., he said. Korean contractors will start construction of
the wind farm by year- end, said Chae. In the second phase, the group
may acquire 900 hectares of adjoining land and build as much as 1,800
megawatts of capacity, he added.
About 90 percent of Tanzania’s population has no access to power. Peak
demand for electricity is about 782 megawatts, compared with a capacity
of 570 megawatts, with demand growing at about 15 percent a year,
Minister for Energy and Minerals William Ngeleja said March 13.
Zimbabwe needs $3,3bn to stabilise power supply, taskforce reports
By Barnabas Thondhlana
20th of March 2009
Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government requires over $3,3-billion in the
next six years to boost the country’s electricity generation capacity.
Pressure is amounting on government to seek alternative power sources in
light of the current below-capacity performance of the country’s power
plants and the breakdown of the Zambia–Zimbabwe interconnector, which
transmits electricity imported from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to the National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF) energy
taskforce report for February, at least five energy ?plants – Hwange
thermal, Kariba South Extension, Gokwe North, Lupane Gas and Batoka
Hydro – should be commissioned by 2015 if government is to tackle
domestic and commercial energy shortfalls.
Currently, the country generates and imports a total of 1 340 MW, a far
cry from a target of 2 090 MW.
This means that the new inclusive government will require urgent
financing for transmission infrastructure and the construction of new
plants during a planned lead time of six years. All coal deposits
parcelled out to individuals in the Bubi area, the report states, must
be consolidated into one big coalfield where a thermal power plant can
be built. The NECF also blames poor government policies and unviable
tariffs for Zimbabwe’s failure to partner with South African investors
in a multimillion-dollar energy project.
“It is noted that South Africa was building gas plants in Nigeria while
Zimbabwe, which is next door to South Africa, had enough resources.
While politics could be at play, tariff structures in the energy sector
are the main reason why foreign investment in the gas sector is
nonexistent,” reads the report.
It adds: “The task force noted with grave concern the effect of
diminishing generation, which compromises international system
integrity, given that Zimbabwe is at the epicentre of the Southern
African Power Pool.”
A lack of funds, the report states, has hampered government plans to
explore the feasibility of a coal-bed methane project. The taskforce has
appealed to government to “seriously consider” external investors in
major exploration projects.
“A flexible framework [with respect to] shareholding must be allowed.”
South Africa: Shanghai Electric Wins Botswana Deal
By Siseko Njobeni
24 March 2009
Johannesburg — CIC Energy, the company developing the Mmamabula energy
complex in Botswana, yesterday announced that it had awarded the
engineering, procurement and construction contract for the construction
of a power station in the complex to Shanghai Electric.
Most of the power from the $3bn coal-fired power station will be sold to
SA's Eskom and the state-owned Botswana Power Corporation (BPC). Subject
to the conclusion of a power purchase agreement between Eskom and CIC
Energy, SA will have an additional source of electricity when the 1200MW
station starts supplying power to the grid in 2013.
CIC Energy president Greg Kinross said yesterday the Toronto and
Botswana stock exchange-listed group was on track to complete the power
purchase agreements and financing this year. CIC Energy said last year
it expected to conclude the power purchase agreements with Eskom and BPC
in the middle of this year. CIC Energy said discussions with the two
entities were continuing.
"Formal bids have been submitted to Eskom and BPC, the expected
electricity off-takers for the Mmamabula Energy Project for the proposed
30-year power purchase agreements," it said.
Eskom and BPC were considering the bids, CIC Energy said. Eskom
spokesman Fani Zulu yesterday confirmed receipt of the bid. Construction
of the power station is set to commence later this year, according to
Jianhua Zheng, president of Shanghai Electric Power. The group said it
was in "active" discussions with potential partners to take an equity
stake in the project. The project also entails a coal mine that will
supply the power station.
Meanwhile, CIC also announced the appointment of Absa Capital -- an
entity that normally plays a leading role in the financing of projects
-- as mandated lead arranger. CIC has said that possible sources of
funds for the project are development finance institutions such as the
Industrial Development Corporation, the Development Bank of Southern
Africa and the African Development bank, credit export agencies and
export facilitation banks and commercial banks.
"The financing process for the Mmamabula Energy Project is well under
way," Kinross said.
More information about the Debate-list