The environmental activist grouping, Earthlife Africa, had asked the Gauteng High Court to halt smelting operations at the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA) Pelindaba plant on the grounds that they were illegal.
The organisation, which wants the smelter to shut down, argues that the possibility exists that it could be turned to commercial use which would result in South Africa becoming ‘a nuclear waste junkyard’.
Earthlife Africa has been in a decade-long dispute over the smelter which was constructed to decontaminate radio-active metal by smelting and mixing it with scrap metal.
To read the article titled, “Earthlife Africa tells court Pelindaba smelter ‘illegal’,” click here.Source:BDLive
Environmental and anti-nuclear organisation, Earthlife Africa says fracking will have negative environmental consequences in the long-term.
President Jacob Zuma, in his State of the Nation Address, announced the possibility of pursuing shale gas, which is recognised as a game changer for the economy.
Earthlife Africa Johannesburg project coordinator, Tristen Taylor, points out that, “What we are discovering from shale gas field in the United States is that the decline rate is very high.”
To read the article titled, “Fracking will have environmental consequences: Earthlife Africa,” click hereSource:SABC News
Power utility, Eskom, has declared an emergency as four generating units developed ‘technical problems’.
Eskom spokesperson, Andrew Etzinger, has requested large industrial consumers to reduce their electricity consumption by 10 percent.
Etzinger states that as per regulatory protocols available to Eskom, they have declared an emergency, which requires all large industrial users to reduce their load.
To read the article titled, “Eskom declares electricity supply emergency,” click here.Source:Mail and Guardian
Survival International, a British-based NGO, says the world should pay attention to the potential threat that hydraulic fracturing for gas has for the indigenous Khoisan people of Botswana.
The organisation, which aims to protect the rights of indigenous tribes, reported yesterday that large parts of Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve – home to Africa’s last hunting Khoisan – had been opened up to international companies for the controversial practice of fracking.
It warns that if the Botswana government’s plans go ahead, it could be the first country in Southern Africa to carry out the extraction of gas from deep underground.
To read the article titled, “Fracking puts Khoisan at risk, claims NGO,” click here.Source:The Post
According to Wagdy Sawahel, while a fierce debate rages about fracking in South Africa and elsewhere, the Botswana government has been silently pushing ahead with plans to produce natural gas, keeping the country in the dark as it grants concessions over vast tracts of land, including half of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve - the ancestral home of the San.
Sawahel says that a new documentary film - the High Cost of Cheap Gas - has uncovered incontrovertible evidence that drilling and fracking are underway in Botswana and that international companies are planning massive gas operations in the future.
However, he says that there has been little attempt to inform the public, despite growing international concerns about the harmful effects of natural gas production.
To read the article titled, “Fracking the Kalahari,” click here.Source:All Africa
Eskom has publicly apologised to three environmental non-governmental organisation – Greenpeace, groundWork and Earthlife Africa - after it was accused of spying on them.
Eskom chief executive, Brian Dames, argues that the use of private companies to gather intelligence from stakeholders is unacceptable and not how Eskom does business.
“To the extent that this may have happened as a consequence, even if unintended, is regrettable and Eskom apologises for this,” he explains.
To read the article titled, “Eskom apologises for spying on NGOs,” click here.Source:News 24
If energy companies and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) are successful, the Karoo a semi-desert wilderness, will soon be home to scientists and geologists mapping out shale gas fields touted as game-changers for Africa's biggest economy, and determining whether fracking will work here.
The fracking process is incurring challenges from multiple opponents - pro-fracking activists assert that a lengthy legal fight is inevitable.
"After the licence has been granted, there is going to be legal battle after legal battle after legal battle," states chairperson of the Karoo Shale Gas Community Forum, Vuyisile Booysen.
To read article titled, “Water, wealth and whites - SA's potent anti-fracking mix,” click here.Source:SABC News
Environmental group, Earthlife Africa , says Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan’s medium-term budget policy statement is clear that government must curb spending where possible.
The organisation argues that fiscal responsibility should be applied to the planned dirty and dangerous energy investments in coal and nuclear.
"We are dismayed that Minister Gordhan is continuing to support our over-reliance on coal by indicating future spending for a new coal-fired power station, Coal-3. This contradicts National Treasury's own statements that South Africa needs to reduce its carbon emissions, the very reason that Treasury wants to place a tax on carbon," it explains.
To read the article titled, “Mid-term Budget fails to deal with carbon emissions: Earthlife Africa,” click here.Source:SABC News
- The challenge for all electricity sectors is to ensure an adequate supply of electricity at an affordable price. All countries have their own challenges, degrees of private sector involvement and of political intervention, but nowhere in the world is the system as archaic as in South Africa (SA).
In this country we have Eskom, a government-owned, vertically integrated monopoly still in control of the whole process of producing and distributing electricity, except for the 50 percent or so of distribution carried out by local authorities. We do not know the real price of our electricity because the real price could only become apparent if our electricity were traded, like any other commodity, in a market where prices are determined by supply and demand.
In the United Kingdom (UK), privatisation of the electricity sector proved hugely profitable for government. Profitable, not only from the sales revenue, higher taxes on industry profits and dividend income but also because the government was relieved of the financial responsibility of trying to prop up a failing electricity sector. Governments elsewhere, and particularly in SA, seem strangely reluctant to exploit such revenue-raising opportunities.
In a snapshot of the UK electricity sector, the following is evident. While the sector has been completely privatised, it is heavily regulated and subject to political interference, interference from green pressure groups, and the European Union bureaucracy. There are numerous taxes, green levies, renewable energy subsidies, and the bizarre wind farm constraint payments. Wind farms, subsidised to generate electricity, are paid constraint payments, which amounted to £30 million last year, to shut down in stormy weather for fear of destabilising the grid.
The National Grid desperately needs to upgrade and modernise to allow for the levels of renewable energy committed to by the UK government, but it cannot afford to do so because its profit margins are tightly regulated by the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (OFGEM).
Consumer prices in the UK are not transparent. Although there is a bilateral trading market, confidential bilateral contracts remain the dominant market mechanism. Competition in generation and retail has increased substantially, but there is still a large degree of vertical integration with the ‘big six’ energy companies in the UK owning three quarters of generation capacity. Initially, the liberalisation of the energy sector was very successful and there were significant price decreases, but the sector now faces enormous challenges due to political intervention and excessive government control.
In New Zealand, the electricity sector is not completely privatised but consists of a combination of State and private entities competing with each other. Regulation in the industry is light-handed and flexible. There are minimal barriers to entry for small businesses, and market participants and all consumers have a large degree of choice. There is free trade in electricity and participants can choose to either purchase on the spot market, or use bilateral contracts and all prices, contracts and investment costs are transparent. Companies are carrying the cost of upgrading. The cost of modernising, as can be seen in the rollout of smart meters, is being absorbed by the distribution companies. Effective retail competition exists with up to nine suppliers to choose from in some areas, and the switching process takes a mere 24 hours. Other incentives are also offered to consumers who use electricity efficiently.
To effectively coordinate outages in transmission and generation, the government uses sophisticated methods such as procuring ancillary services through contracts with electricity generators, retailers and distributors. Government participation and facilitation, rather than intervention and regulation is evident.
In Chile, despite difficult odds, endeavours to create competition in the electricity sector, particularly in generation, have been largely successful. There is a vast grid relative to a low population density. Chile has very little natural energy resources which makes it heavily reliant on the importation of fossil fuels. Disruptive and damaging earthquakes also pose a problem to the viability of investing in nuclear energy production.
Although the sector is completely privatised, it is heavily controlled by the government. Two markets exist alongside one another, a free market for large industrial consumers and a regulated market for households and commercial operators. There is no retail market so captive household consumers lack choice and while free customers and distributors may purchase electricity on a spot market, spot prices are capped.
The Chilean government, however, has been proactive in addressing security of electricity supply. It has identified the need to move away from reliance on hydropower and is exploring new sources of fossil fuels to support thermal electricity production. An important element of the success of the electricity reform has been the institutional bias to protect the property rights of original owners of capital in the electricity sector yet limit their ability to exploit market power by encouraging competition. For most developing countries the opposite bias prevails where the tendencies to renege on regulatory contracts with initial private property holders have led to failed reforms.
Chile’s neighbour, Brazil, faces somewhat greater challenges due to its institutional design. The sector there faces rapidly growing demand as it is estimated that an additional 3 000 - 5 000MW of generation capacity is needed annually.
Most of the distribution networks are privatised, but there is no retail competition and distributors compete with each other for concessions. Household consumers have no choice. The sector is heavily regulated and controlled by government.
In normal rainfall years, hydro, which is government owned, meets 100 percent of demand. Under drought conditions, Brazil faces huge supply issues. There is an institutional preference to dispatch hydro first, and Petrobas, a government controlled entity, regulates the supply and price of gas. This puts thermal production at a disadvantage and makes it uncompetitive to operate at present. Government controls the electricity supply by imposing rationing and rolling blackouts. The tax component of the consumer bill, slightly reduced recently because of upcoming elections, at the start of the year, accounted for 45 percent. Electricity theft through illegal hook-ups is as much as 20 percent in some areas.
A free market for large industrial consumers exists and there is private participation and competition in new generation capacity. The free market, which accounts for 30 percent of consumption, is growing fast and it is estimated that it will account for 50 percent in the very near future.
Where electricity sectors have been liberalised and competition introduced, prices have declined significantly. It is only where governments interfere for political reasons, and impose excessive regulation and taxes, that this trend reverses.
- Lisa Harraway is a researcher with the Free Market Foundation. This article first appeared on the Free Market Foundation website.
- Statistics about social problems are meaningless if they fail to jolt people into action. Commenting on statistics about forced removals, Colin Bundy made the following profound statement. He said “There is a sense in which these appalling figures have been cited so often that we are used to them; that we cease to realise their import, their horror - what they mean in terms of degradation, misery and psychological and physical suffering”. With the winter upon us with its attendant shack fires and destruction, media will be awash with statistics of burn victims, survivors and related stories.
I found myself thinking about this statement as a journalist asked me recently about household energy related incidents in South Africa’s informal settlements. Reluctantly, I informed him that globally, fire-related burns are responsible for about 265 000 deaths annually with over 90 percent occurring in developing or low and middle income countries (LMICs). I went on to indicate that burns are among the most devastating of all injuries, with outcomes spanning the spectrum from physical impairments and disfigurement, to emotional and mental consequences. Despite the fact that injury due to burns is largely preventable, Africa carries an extraordinary burden of fire related injuries. It is estimated that over a million patients are burned annually on the African continent, with 18 percent of hospital admissions and six to ten percent of mortality being burn related.
In South Africa, a Medical Research Council report estimates that each year 3.2 percent (1 600 000) of the country’s population will suffer from burn injuries, with the vast majority being from poorer communities. This high incidence is driven by negative impact factors including the influx of people to urban areas, haphazard urban development, overcrowding, inadequate electrification of homes in low-income communities, paraffin and bio-mass fuels used as the primary energy sources, and lack of effective preventative and education programmes.
Young children are particularly vulnerable, with death as a result of burn injuries claiming approximately 1 300 young lives each year. This concentration of burn mortality and injury among infants and toddlers occurs more frequently among very young black children below the age of three. Incidents of burn injury thereafter decrease until adolescence when burn mortality rates start to increase once older children become exposed to a wider range of high-risk activities such as cooking and lighting fires for morning and evening meals - both of which are activities common for older children in low-income settings. Older children also spend an increasing amount of time with other children, older siblings and adults outside the home. This widening social network exposes them to risks posed by open fires initiated for heating and cooking and managing heating appliances and heated appliances or utensils.
At this point I asked myself the question: So what? Until we answer this question by individually and collectively trying to do something practical about this. Government can address the socio-economic conditions that undergird these problems and implement regulations that promote household energy safety. Businesses can educate their employees about what they can do to prevent fires from taking place and invest developing safe technologies and systems. Individuals can take responsibility for their safety. Schools can include home energy safety in their curriculums and organisations can collaborate to eradicate this scourge. This is how statistics can jolt us into action.
- Patrick Kulati, Chief Executive Officer, Household Energy Safety Association of South Africa (HESASA)
Formerly the Paraffin Safety Association of South Africa (PASASA), which aimed at preventing paraffin related incidents, HESASA focuses on promoting the safety of all household energy sources and technologies used in the home for cooking, heating and lighting in all communities.
HESASA was formed after extensive research into the South African energy sector, which realized that the focus on integrated energy safety in households was limited. HESASA’s approach is evidence-based and prevention-focused. We research, educate and advocate on household energy safety across South Africa.