The possibility of load shedding by Eskom in South Africa this winter is larger than the Day Zero water crisis that engulfed Cape Town until last month, independent energy expert Ted Blom told Fin24 on Wednesday.
Eskom, however, told Parliament in April that South Africa’s electricity grid is “stable” as the country heads into the winter months when electricity usage rises.
Eskom told Fin24 on Wednesday that load shedding this winter is not likely, as it implemented plans to manage a shift in plant performance and coal-stock levels.
Blom, however, said Cape Town’s Day Zero was avoided by people starting to save water ahead of time. Eskom, on the other hand, only sent out tenders for emergency coal supplies last week after permission was obtained from National Treasury.
Although Eskom’s new board is trying to follow compliance in the process, Blom claims the power utility’s management should have foreseen six months ago already that there would be a problem with enough coal supplies for the winter electricity spike.
Apart from his own knowledge of the industry, said Blom, his claims are substantiated by reliable sources at Eskom.
“Chances are more than 50% that there will be load shedding this winter. Where is Eskom going to find coal? Coal does not just fall out of heaven. You have to mine it. You need skilled miners and equipment for that,” he said.
He suspects Eskom has a coal shortfall of about a million tonnes per month and is of the view that, even when all is in place to obtain more coal supplies, it will take three to five months to catch up on the backlog – in other words, during the winter period.
Eskom issued a statement in April indicating that seven of its power stations’ coal stockpile levels stood at 20 days, below the required target.
Eskom told Parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises that the coal supply issues are made worse by the fact that Tegeta is in business rescue.
It also told Parliament in April that it has plans in place to manage its primary energy resources and achieve healthy stockpiles across its power stations.
“Eskom has already admitted that it is between 3 and 5 million tonnes of coal short. That is more than half of its stockpiles,” said Blom.
“Eskom’s board now consists of a lovely bunch of new guys, but they don’t know anything about the electricity industry. At least half of Eskom’s board should consist of people with knowledge of electricity generation and coal mining.
“Electricity is crucial for South Africa’s economy and diesel has already been used for generation since January at a rate of more than R1bn per month.”
In Blom’s view, South Africa’s energy sector needs a major revamp in which regulation loopholes are closed.
“If Cyril (Ramaphosa) is serious, he should upgrade energy generation regulations and avoid rogue behaviour in the industry,” said Blom.
In his view, energy needs to be declared a basic industrial input factor and every measure taken to keep it as cheap as possible.
“Sensible energy policy is probably the most relevant topic in Africa at this time, and the South African policy is clearly not the one to emulate. We need to start our thinking from the ground up, rather than continue with the patchwork efforts of the past. Without affordable cheap energy, economic growth is not possible,” he cautioned.
Blom will be a speaker at the upcoming African Utility Week taking place in Cape Town from May 15 to 17, during which over 7 000 decision makers from more than 80 countries will discuss energy and water issues faced on the continent.
Fin24 reported last week that Eskom said it is not bailing out Gupta-linked Optimum Coal Mine, which is in business rescue. This was in response to a report by City Press, claiming the proposed business rescue plan for Optimum would see Eskom pay twice as much for half the coal it can get from the mine.
Eskom has said it is in discussions with the mine’s business rescue practitioners and no agreement has been reached.
As energy investors eagerly await announcements of the preferred bidders in the latest round of South Africa’s renewable IPP programme – the so-called expedited bid window – it is worth reflecting on the successes of the country’s Renewable Energy Power Producer’s Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) and why it has achieved what many commentators believed was an unachievable feat.
“The REIPPPP has been a resounding success, spurring not only investment into South Africa’s energy sector, but in the broader region,” says Scott Brodsky, Partner and energy lawyer at international law firm Macfarlanes, who are advising clients across Sub-Saharan Africa on all aspects of renewable and other energy projects, including project financing and bankable power purchase agreements. “The effect of load shedding on life, on businesses and the wider economies is devastating. Although South Africa is having temporary respite from load shedding, some countries in the region are experiencing 12 to 16 hours per day with no electricity. The good news is that IPPs are helping tremendously and the need for new generation has translated into significant new opportunities,” says Brodsky.
The successes of the REIPPPP have been notable; Brodsky and the Sub-Saharan Africa team of Macfarlanes have power and energy specialists based in their offices in Johannesburg and London.. They are currently advising on energy projects throughout the region, including in South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, and Mozambique.
The success story of South Africa’s renewable energy programme is impressive when one views the figures. Sandra Coetzee, Head of Strategy at the Department of Energy’s IPP Office, recently shared the Department of Energy’s latest figures at the third annual IPP conference held in Sandton.
“Launched in 2011, the REIPPP Programme is bringing about a tangible transformation to our country’s power sector and economic and physical landscape. The competitive bidding approach clearly demonstrates that renewable energy options, and specifically onshore wind and solar PV power, can already be delivered at lower costs in energy terms, than new build fossil fuel solutions,” said Coetzee.
Here are some of the facts and figures:
• The AfDB estimates that nearly 654 million Africans still have no access to energy. This signals enormous potential for energy investment on the continent.
• In 2010, the South African government adopted a plan to grow the share of renewable energy in the electricity mix from 0% to 21% over the 20-year planning horizon to 2030, simultaneously reducing the capacity share of fossil fuels in the electricity mix from 86.5% to 57%.
• The REIPPP Programme has attracted vibrant investor interest both locally and abroad. Commitments to the value of 194 billion rand have been raised, contributing to South Africa being rated by the Climate Scope Index as 3rd and 4th most attractive renewable energy investment destination among emerging markets (in 2014 and 2015 respectively).
• The annual competitive bidding process effectively leveraged rapid global renewable energy technologies and price strengths, buying cleaner and cleaner rates with every bid cycle. Consequently South African citizens are getting the benefit of renewable energy at some of the lowest tariffs in the world.
• At the end of 2015, 6376 MW of power was successfully procured from 102 IPPs in four bid rounds of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer’s Procurement Programme.
• This 6376 MW of power procured represents an extraordinary 92.1% of the target 6925 MW renewable energy to be operational by 2020.
• Of the 6376 MW of renewable energy procured, just over 2GW of electrical generation capacity has been connected to the national grid. This is equivalent to half of the capacity of an additional coal powered station, delivered in only a third of the time.
• This renewable energy capacity is contributed by 40 operational renewable energy plants that will be producing approximately 5.12 terawatt hours of clean energy per year, enough to supply 1.5 million average South African households with power for a year.
• South Africa’s renewable energy share of installed capacity has grown from 0% to in 5% in five short years, making it one of the fastest growing renewable energy programmes in the world.
• Onshore wind has contributed 3308 gigawatt hours to the national grid, making it the biggest wind energy producer in Africa, followed by Morocco, whose installed capacity stood at 787 MW in 2015.
• South Africa was recognised among the top 10 countries with the largest installed utility scale solar photovoltaic capacity in the world, having reached 3300 gigawatt hours by December 2015. Concentrated solar power’s contribution to the grid was 181 gigawatt hours, whilst small hydro technologies made 40 gigawatt hours.
• A study by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) found that the wind and solar power capacity operational during 2015 showed an R800 million net benefit to the economy achieved during that year, followed by a further marked increase in the first 6 months of 2015, helping to save more than an additional 4 billion rand in costs to the economy.
• From programme inception to date, 7 million tons of CO2 equivalent reductions have been realised, of which 4.7 million tons alone were realised in 2014/2015. The procured renewable energy portfolio is projected to produce well over 19 terawatt hours per annum of clean energy, reducing the need for conventional fossil fuel based power supply.
• The environmental benefit of the renewable energy portfolio at full operation will displace 45 million tons of CO2 emissions per annum. Over 20 years this will amount to a total of 902 million tons, in other words, the equivalent of four full years of South Africa’s current electricity emissions at the reported 2014/2015 levels.
• The environmental significance and benefits of the renewable energy portfolio extend beyond the reduction of the country’s carbon footprint. Our current power system requires 1.4 litres of water for every kWh of energy produced. In comparison, wind and solar PV technologies require and consume hardly any water, offering a means to supply our energy needs without further burdening our scarce water resources. Beyond diversifying the supply and nature of SA’s electrical energy production, the programme is also providing a vehicle for delivering the country’s social and economic development objectives:
• The renewable energy IPPs have committed 19.2 billion rand towards social economic development initiatives in the country, with 15.2 billion thereof specifically allocated to local communities.
• Over 23 000 job year opportunities have been created to date for South African citizens; which continue to grow beyond the original expectations of project developers.
• At least 12 new industrial facilities that have been established in the country in direct response to the REIPPPP to date.
• The Programme has been called a flagship public private partnership model for South Africa and the rest of Africa by the WWF and is considered a blueprint to inform programme design in other African countries.
• The country has benefitted from an influx of foreign direct investment. The REIPPPP has attracted 53.4 billion rand in foreign investment and financing to date. Foreign equity in the REIPPPP is 35 billion rand, equivalent to 56.9 percent of the inward FDI attracted by SA during 2014.
The average person living in a big city can spend up to four months of his/her life sitting, waiting and wishing in traffic. This is becoming ever truer in downtown Johannesburg and its surrounding metropolitan business hubs, particularly Sandton. The influx of people to the big city over the past few years has seen the dark, looming shadow of traffic grow exponentially until, at times, becoming nearly unmanageable, especially when load shedding knocks out power to Sandton’s robots and traffic systems, bringing traffic to a literal standstill.
Growing traffic congestion has serious economic consequences for fast-growing cities, but the most concerning effects of gridlock is on the individual. Imagine you could get back all the time you spent sitting in traffic – an extra hour in the evening with your son or daughter or half an hour more in bed every morning. The pressing question is ‘how many moments are you missing while you’re stuck behind the wheel of a car?’.
According to the latest traffic index report, released annually by TomTom, a global leader in satellite navigation technology, more than 40% of South African employees are late for work due to traffic congestion. Johannesburg is currently ranked the 77th most congested city in the world, and climbing steadily.
“There are many factors that contribute to traffic congestion in South Africa, poor public transport is one of them,” said Etienne Louw, General Manager of TomTom Africa.
This was solemnly acknowledged by Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau at the Ecomobility Festival in October this year. For the month of October, roads in the commercial hub of Sandton were closed off to private vehicles, for the purpose of promoting the use of public transport and getting the public to experience a version of Sandton without all of the congestion, noise and smog.
The soaring number of cars moving in and out of Sandton every day contributes enormously to the city’s CO2 emissions, and the gridlock experienced during rush hour is costing the country a huge amount of money each year, as noted by Tau during the festival: “As it stands, the economic impact that results from congestion in the whole of South Africa is over one billion rand (each year), and Johannesburg accounts for the highest loss, with more than 1.5 million vehicles registered across the metropolitan.”
Those numbers aren’t looking to drop any time soon; commuters in Sandton are rising by 3.4% annually. Currently, the picture of traffic in the precinct is a very gloomy one. On a daily basis, between 7:30am and 8:30am, almost 150 000 people move in and out of Sandton. The scary part is that 70% of the vehicles coming in and out are private.
Gridlock is a global problem affecting every major metropole in the world. The obvious long-term solution is the development of a fully integrated public transport system, but as this will take time, the motor industry is looking to technological development to help alleviate the rising surge of global traffic.
This topic was covered extensively at the TED conference in March 2011, by Bill Ford, in his talk: “A Future Beyond Global Traffic Gridlock“. In his talk, Ford reveals some shocking figures about the rate at which the numbers of cars are increasing in cities around the world, and the cost of gridlock to the economy and the individual: “Today, there are about 800 million cars on the road worldwide. But with more people and greater prosperity around the world, that number is going to grow to between two and four billion cars by mid-century. And this is going to create the kind of global gridlock that the world has never seen before.”
When considering how to navigate around the problem facing us, Ford notes more of the same will not do, and we are going to have to – very quickly – begin developing technology to help us manage traffic flow in big cities.
“We are going to build smart cars, but we also need to build smart roads, smart parking, smart public transportation systems and more. We don’t want to waste our time sitting in traffic, sitting at tollbooths or looking for parking spots. We need an integrated system that uses real-time data to optimise personal mobility on a massive scale, without hassle or compromises for travellers.”
For South Africans, particularly those living in the buzzing metropolis’ of Johannesburg and Cape Town, a smart move toward alleviating traffic congestion – minimising time wasted behind the wheel – is to make use of dedicated sat-nav technology like TomTom. The TomTom GO5000 and GO5100 have independent, unlimited access to TomTom maps, which has more map data for southern Africa than any other mapping resource in the world. A device like this receives over 700 000 data points each second, allowing deadly accuracy, up to 2cm, updating traffic information in real-time. This appears to be the most intelligent short-term solution to minimising your commute time, dodging speed cameras, and getting where you need to be, faster. The only difference between the two is the GO5100 comes with World Maps as well.
With traffic congestion reaching all-time highs, TomTom aims to provide the general public, industry and policymakers with unique and unbiased information about congestion levels in urban areas, making your trip a little more bearable.
High demand for affordable, innovative eco-building coupled with dramatic rise in green-star certified projects; Estate agencies report ‘green’ homes are more sought-after by top-end buyers
Soaring electricity prices, frequent load-shedding and crippling drought has seen a surge in green developments nationwide as landlords seek to ease their reliance on the strained and ailing national grid.
Backing this trend is the sharp rise in eco-friendly buildings which have been green star certified by the Green Building Council of SA (GBCSA) – from four in 2010 to 56 during 2015 alone (January up to mid-October), bringing the total in the country to 121. The trend is spurred by buyers’ eagerness to have homes and businesses which are load-shedding ready, and also boast a reduced environmental impact, according to real estate agencies Pam Golding and Seeff.
Developers and home owners are more willing than ever to fork out for eco-building solutions, given the long-term savings amid surging electricity prices and increasing water scarcity, according to green building solutions firm Rhino Green Building.
The firm has been involved with the development of the entirely off-grid Rhino Group showcase home, House Rhino, which is located at Crossways Farm Village outside Port Elizabeth and recently won acclaim at a global sustainability conference in the UK.
The home is unique for South Africa and, according to green building academics, one of about 50 globally to incorporate unique water and energy-centric eco-building solutions, making it a green energy generator (also known as energy-plus houses). House Rhino treats its black and grey water using a high-tech filtration processes, while natural aqua-gardens allow for a chemical-free swimming pool. It also harvests rainwater.
According to architectural designer and Rhino Green Building director Ian van der Westhuizen, there is an increasing need to “respect and promote the importance of green design principals” given the electricity crisis and increasing scarcity of water. The firm focused on combining water and energy-centric eco-solutions, such as was used for House Rhino, he said.
“We are at the forefront of exploring innovative eco-building methods. We work with architects, engineers and developers in order to incorporate cost-effective and cutting-edge green building solutions on their projects,” Van der Westhuizen said.
The firm is now involved in developing other green residences at Crossways Farm Village. It was also involved in the construction phase of the nearby R1.7-billion Baywest Mall.
Government has also joined the green building trend, with the departments of Environmental Affairs in the Western Cape, Public Works in Kwa-Zulu Natal and the City of Cape Town all boasting Green Star SA rated state buildings.
“Apart from the obvious cost savings associated with sustainable and energy efficient buildings, hopefully those who live and work in green buildings will start to see the [cost, health, and lifestyle] benefits of doing so,” said GBCSA chief technical officer, Manfred Braune.
“Corporate South Africa will benefit from the cost savings – direct and in terms of increased productivity – increased asset value and return on investment, as well as increased global competiveness.”
Braune said that issues feeding into the demand for green building included:
- Rising electricity prices, which have put energy efficiency onto many agendas, while load-shedding was causing property owners and occupiers to seek alternative energy sources;
- A rising awareness of humans’ impact on – and role in – protecting the environment. An increased consciousness of water scarcity, for example, appeared to be resulting in an increase in the installation of rainwater catchment devices, grey water systems and low-flow taps; and
- Several major banks and property funds which were differentiating themselves in terms of green buildings.
Department of Construction Management academic at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Chris Allen, along with colleague Katharina Crafford, co-authored a study of House Rhino and the benefits of green building.
“This paper reports on a case study of an energy-plus residential building in South Africa, one of the first of this project type on the African continent. House Rhino… provided an unprecedented opportunity to research the potential for a residential energy-plus building as a proof of concept for a future where energy and water are rare commodities. House Rhino combines active and passive features in a modern residential design that has been created as a living lab,” the paper’s abstract reads.
Allen presented their study, African Energy-Plus construction: A case study of House Rhino, at the international sustainability conference known as SEEDS (Sustainable Ecological Engineering Design for Society) at Leeds Beckett University in the UK in September.
The firm also incorporates other unique, but utilitarian green building concepts, such as light-weight concrete.
“The light-weight concrete walls aid in sound proofing as well as thermal insulation,” explained fellow Rhino Green Building director, Jarred van Niekerk. “It’s a fast means of construction and our team can construct up to 150m² of wall in nine hours.”
According to a report, fossil fuel savings and reduced load-shedding have saved the economy R8.3-billion in the first six months of the year.
Despite independent power remaining a very small part of South Africa’s energy mix, wind and solar projects have generated a R8.3-billion benefit in just the first six months of the year.
This is according to a recent report by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) which attempted to calculate how much money renewable technologies are saving South Africa.
From January to June this year, the collective contribution of wind energy and solar power (photovoltaic) projects to the economy exceeded their tariff (of R4.3-billion) by R4-billion. Wind energy produced the most net savings of R1.8-billion, the CSIR report said.
This is significantly more than last year’s findings where, in the CSIR report for 2014, renewables brought net savings of R800-million over the entire year.
“The latest figures demonstrate clearly that the benefits renewables bring to South Africa are increasing all the time as more developments connect to the grid – now bringing 10 times more financial benefit than last year,” said the South African Wind and Energy Association (Sawea).
The benefits of renewables for the electricity market are calculated by the CSIR in two ways.
Firstly, diesel and coal fuel cost savings, totalling R3.6-billion, created by solar and wind energy that replaced what would otherwise have been fossil fuel-generated power. Secondly, the saving to the economy through avoiding “unserved energy” (load-shedding).
The report showed load shedding occurred during 82 days, out of 181 days, in the first half of 2015. In these days load shedding occurred for approximately 709 hours accounting for 1 095 GWh of unserved energy.
Over and above this the research identified a further 203 hours in which consumers’ energy would have been curtailed had wind and solar energy not been providing power to the grid. These macroeconomic benefits are calculated at R4.6-billion.
Tobias Bischof-Niemz, who heads up the CSIR’s Energy Centre which produced the report said the centre had developed a methodology to determine whether at any given hour of the year, renewables have replaced coal or diesel generators, or whether they have even prevented “unserved energy’”
The cost of unserved energy is a macroeconomic cost per kWh to the entire South African economy of not being able to serve customers’ electricity demand. In the Department of Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) this cost is assumed to be R90 per kWh in April 2015. This was the number used in the study to calculate the economic value renewables have contributed.
CSIR noted Eskom had presented a study with a slightly lower number, but the research opted not to use it as it was still in the consultation process.
The department of energy is procuring new generation capacity and has already allocated a total of 8.1 GW of renewables (mainly wind & PV) for procurement from Independent Power Producers
In May, an additional 6 300 MW of renewable energy would be procured; over and above the existing 5 243 MW’s already awarded under the renewable energy independent power producer procurement (REIPPP) programme.
The CSIR research outcomes were based on projects commissioned through the earlier biding windows.
New wind and PV projects have become significantly cheaper in recent years. “The cost of wind energy is now between 60-70 cents per kilowatt hour (KWh) with solar managing to get close to 80 cents. Wind energy is now close to 50% cheaper than the predicted costs of new build coal powered stations Medupi and Kusile,” Sawea said.
Johannesburg – State power utility Eskom has asked the national energy regulator Nersa for permission to recoup R38bn of costs incurred in its 2014 financial year through higher electricity tariffs starting April 1 next year.
“If approved, the outcome of this application is expected to impact the electricity price commencing in 2016-17,” acting chairperson Ben Ngubane said in the company’s annual report, released on Tuesday.
The regulator in June rejected a request by Eskom, which is struggling to meet demand in Africa’s most-industrialised economy, to raise prices by as much as 25% for the year to March 2016. The additional funds would have been used to buy power from independent producers and for diesel to fuel generators the utility uses to curb scheduled blackouts.
Electricity prices in South Africa have almost quadrupled since 2007, when the country first had power shortages. Scheduled supply cuts, known as load shedding, have taken place almost once every two days on average this year.
In October, the regulator gave Eskom permission to raise tariffs by an average 13% from April 1, 2015, more than the 8% initially approved, to help the utility recover R7.8bn of unbudgeted costs for the three years through March 2013. The company had applied to recover R18.4bn.
Eskom has struggled to finance new generating capacity and is battling to meet demand after delays in building new power stations and as aging plants suffer from breakdowns.
Kusile, which will have 4 800 megawatts of capacity, making it Africa’s biggest coal-fired power plant when completed, will be fully operational in 2021, while the 4 764-megawatt Medupi facility will be ready in 2019. Both were to be completed by 2018, the company said in 2012.
Load shedding is having a severe financial impact on South African food production, according to an expert at energy efficiency firm Energy Partners.
Load shedding is having a severe financial impact on South African food production, according to an expert at energy efficiency firm Energy Partners.
According to Dawie Kriel, the head of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration at Energy Partners, this affects not only primary food production, but also post-harvest handling and the retail sector.
“The interrupted electricity supply is costing the local food production industry millions every month and could be depriving South Africa of quality nutrition,” said Kriel.
His comments follow a plea from the South African Poultry Association earlier this month for government assistance to help them guarantee electricity supply to the nation’s biggest abattoirs as almost-daily load shedding is harming the birds’ welfare and creating health risks.
The slaughterhouses, some of which can process as many as 13 000 chickens hourly, can’t rely on generators as they aren’t able to create sufficient power for their needs, said Kevin Lovell, CEO of the poultry industry body.
Lovell told Bloomberg the birds are typically stunned unconscious by electrocution before they are decapitated while hanging upside down.
When power cuts interrupt the process, the birds “have been stunned but they haven’t been killed; they’re hanging upside down and they’re coming back alive”, he told Bloomberg.
“It’s a real problem. And it’s a huge waste problem because everything that stops in the process, sometimes hundreds of tons, has to be cleared. You have to clean and sterilise everything and then you have to dump at a medical waste site.”
Kriel said on Wednesday that the entire supply chain – from primary production through to the consumer – is impacted in one way or another, because farmers are highly dependent on electricity for key processes such as irrigation, livestock care and harvesting.
“The biggest problem for primary production is the uncertainty around the load shedding schedule. It is very difficult to halt production or manufacturing processes once they are in progress,” said Kriel.
“In the dairy industry, for example, a herd of dairy cows and the infrastructure to support milk production run predictably every day according to the animals’ biorhythms. It is not something that can be switched on and off at a moment’s notice.”
This was the same problem for the poultry industry. Lovell said while load shedding followed schedules, it was sometimes imposed at a few minutes’ notice.
Kriel said once fresh milk is in a silo it has to be treated, cooled and transported to a dairy plant for careful processing to ensure that quality and safety are maintained.
“Once in the factory, it needs to be kept at the perfect temperature and then processed through a series of heating and cooling stages to provide the milk, cheese, yoghurt, butter and many other products used daily,” said Kriel.
The cooling plant is a crucial element and a big energy user in the production process. It needs to run 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.
“While solar and wind energy can assist, it is not ideal for this type of load and has to be integrated with a form of standby power generation.”
Kriel pointed out that reliable energy is of equal importance in the post-harvest sector, as the long-term quality and safety of food products depends on accurate temperature management throughout the process.
“If this process is interrupted at any stage, the food product deteriorates in quality and cannot be sold as premium grade or worse, has to be discarded due to food safety concerns. This means food producers are losing valuable income and the country is deprived of quality nutrition,” said Kriel.
Cold chain disruption affects retail sector
Power interruptions also have an impact on the safe handling and storage of perishable foods in the retail sector.
“If the cold chain is disrupted, shelf life is affected and shop owners either have to remove affected products from their shelves or face unhappy customers who return inedible products,” he said.
“Lights, refrigeration, ovens and all other energy intensive elements must be as energy efficient as possible and energy usage must be monitored closely. Once this has been implemented, store owners can invest in standby generation and solar power, especially if they trade mostly during daylight hours,” said Kriel.
Johannesburg – South African chicken producers will ask the government to help them guarantee electricity supply to the nation’s biggest abattoirs as almost-daily load shedding is harming the birds’ welfare and creating health risks.
The slaughterhouses, some of which can process as many as 13 000 chickens hourly, can’t rely on generators as they aren’t able to create sufficient power for their needs, South African Poultry Association chief executive officer Kevin Lovell said.
The birds are typically stunned unconscious by electrocution before they are decapitated while hanging upside down, he said.
When power cuts interrupt the process, the birds “have been stunned but they haven’t been killed; they’re hanging upside down and they’re coming back alive,” he said at Bloomberg’s offices in Johannesburg last week.
“It’s a real problem. And it’s a huge waste problem because everything that stops in the process, sometimes hundreds of tons, has to be cleared. You have to clean and sterilise everything and then you have to dump at a medical waste site.”
Eskom has cut supply almost every other day this year as it struggles to meet demand amid regular breakdowns of plants and delays starting up new units. While load shedding follows schedules, it is sometimes imposed at a few minutes’ notice.
Abattoirs belonging to producers including RCL Foods and Astral Foods slaughtered about 958 million chickens last year, Lovell said.
Request to Eskom
SAPA, as the poultry lobby is known, will approach the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries about asking Eskom and municipalities to directly control power supply to 20 of the largest slaughterhouses, which process about 80% of the country’s production, and provide about eight hours’ notice before cuts are introduced, Lovell said.
Eskom will attempt to accommodate the needs of the poultry industry once producers have made an approach, Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said by phone on Tuesday.
A company operating in the Western Cape has arranged that it gets forewarned about planned disruptions and switches off supply to its feed mill during the day in exchange for not having electricity to its abbatoir cut, Lovell said.
“Maybe that’s the sort of solution we can come up with,” he said.
Sufficient warning will limit losses and help processors and farmers plan transportation of the birds more efficiently, he said.
“Farms need to be no more than two hours away from abattoirs as that’s the sort of time period that the chickens can safely be contained in those crates” on trucks, he said. “If it starts to take longer than that, you start to get mortalities.”
About 58% of Eskom’s electricity sales are to direct customers such as mines and factories, with the rest is sold to municipalities who then distribute to residents and businesses, according to the company’s 2014 annual report.
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Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown has ruled out the privatisation of basic services, such as the provision of electricity and water, and has said load shedding will continue for three more years. Until the “end-state” of Eskom was clarified “we can’t say what parts should go where”, said Brown, who was speaking at
a media briefing ahead of her budget vote in the National Assembly on 14 May. Reuters reported on 13 May that South Africa was considering either partially privatising Eskom or putting up some of its assets for sale in order to secure funding for the power producer and resolve an energy crisis.Quoting a statement from the National Treasury, it said South Africa was considering ring-fencing and selling stakes in the state power utility as it sought to secure funding for the power producer and resolve an energy crisis.”Given Eskom’s constrained balance sheet and government’s constrained fiscal position, there is a need to explore all options,” the Treasury said. “Consideration is being given to ring-fencing and selling stakes in Eskom’s non-core businesses or power stations as well as into Eskom’s business as a whole.”However, Brown was emphatic that she did not believe one should change the state-driven ownership model “for now… until you know what you are working towards. You can’t make a decision [about] what happens to Eskom or any of the other state-owned companies [until then]”.
My long politician’s answer
Turning to what she called “my long politician’s answer”, namely the question of what could be privatised by the state, Brown said: “Basic services must be provided by the state. How private companies and the private sector interact with that is part of what we are trying to do now. [But] we must be able to remain in charge as a state, for want of a better word.”Turning to the troubled Eskom, Brown said that even “in the deepest difficult time” – apparently referring to load shedding – Eskom had been able to connect 160 000 households with electricity.”It [Eskom] can’t be driven by capital… or profit,” she said, noting that it was the state’s responsibility – through Eskom as a commercial venture – to carry out the developmental responsibility.While acknowledging that load shedding would continue for the next three years, the minister said that some Eskom achievements “seemed to have been lost in the avalanche of publicity about other matters”.”Today, I am very pleased to announce that the ramp-up towards full output at Medupi has passed the 700MW milestone. When fully operational by the end of June 2015 as promised, it will deliver the equivalent of more than 40% of the output of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant.”Scheduled maintenance of Koeberg’s Unit One was well on track and was expected to bring more than 900MW back to service by the end of May.
Eskom build programme
“Looking ahead I have tasked the leadership of Eskom to accelerate the completion of the build programme, with improved project management, contracting and increase the generation capacity of the existing fleet,” Brown said.The state-owned companies under her department – Eskom, Transnet, Denel, South African Express, Safcol and Alexkor – had combined annual revenues of over R200- billion, she said, and would contribute the lion’s share of the state’s investment in infrastructure of more than R330-million a day every day over the next three years.”In conclusion, I want to say that over the next five years the highest priority goals which the department and I are required to drive are set out in the National Development Programme-rooted Medium-Term Strategic Framework. Foremost among these are critical initiatives to lower the cost of doing business to stimulate job-creating growth and to increase the efficiency of the economy:
- First, ramp up the electricity generation reserve margin from its current levels to 19% by 2019;
- Second, increase the tonnage moved on rail from the current 207 million tons to 330 million tons by 2019;
- Third improve the operational performance of sea ports and inland terminals by increasing the average gross crane movements per hour by 25% by 2019; and,
- Fourth, use the Eskom and Transnet infrastructure development and replacement investment spend to drive the overall national investment rate to 25% in a way that crowds in private sector investment and creates opportunity for new suppliers and sectors.”
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Banks are funding the fossil fuel industry, and profits continue to be harvested at the expense of lives and the planet, writes Nicole King.
Johannesburg – Last year was the hottest on record, it has been confirmed, and we risk runaway climate change, so it’s time for a Global Day of Divestment action.
Load shedding. Coal and oil price volatility. Greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change. Devastating floods in Malawi. New mining licenses under consideration. Your bank is potentially funding them.
On Global Divestment Day, millions of people across the world pulled hard on one of the threads that connects all of these pieces together, drawing the fossil fuel industry and the banks and institutions that fund it into the spotlight.
Friday the 13th might well have been unlucky for those who would prefer that business proceeds as usual and that profits continue being harvested at the expense of people and the planet.
The scientific health check for the Earth is dire. Last year was the hottest year since records began in 1880, with average combined temperatures across sea and land rising to 0.77º Celsius above the 20th century average. Nine of the 10 warmest years have been experienced since 2000. As a result, the frequency and severity of flooding and droughts are increasing and sea levels are beginning to rise.
We are shattering other records too: burning record amounts of coal and oil, investing record amounts of capital in fossil fuels and producing record levels of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global temperatures to rise. Burning fossil fuels is the number one driver of climate change and globally. At least 80 percent of all known reserves need to stay in the ground if average temperatures are to be kept to a 2º Celsius future rise, a target that is unlikely to be met without radical change.
We have to act now. That is why people of conscience are using their collective power as bank account holders, students and academics, religious leaders and members of faith-based communities to get banks to stop future investments and public institutions to divest from coal and oil. The global divestment movement includes 181 individuals and institutions – representing more than $50 billion (about R583bn) in assets – that have pledged to divest from fossil fuels.
In South Africa, all of the banks fund fossil fuels, so people have been getting behind the Fossil Free Africa campaign to call for their banks to change direction, starting with Nedbank. The “green bank” could become the industry leader by disclosing its investments as a first step toward ultimately committing to stopping funding future fossil fuel projects.
In the fight for climate justice, the human cost of rising temperatures is proving too high. The recent flooding in Malawi and Mozambique claimed hundreds of lives and left thousands more people homeless and facing food shortages and hunger.
At the same time, water scarcity across Africa is increasing, including in South Africa. Northern Kenya is experiencing its worst drought in 60 years. Too often it is those who have done the least to cause climate change who are paying the ultimate price, but everyone of us will soon feel the impact.
In Springs, for generations people have been living with the impacts of mining, first from coal then gold. Communities in Kwa-Thema and other locations now face four new open-cast coal mines, some of which will border residential areas. There is scepticism about the promises of jobs and fear about the health risks associated with polluted water and air.
Then there is the coastline. In November, President Jacob Zuma announced Operation Phakisa, the government’s plan to fast-track economic development through oil and gas exploration off the coast, including a potential 3.5km-deep oil well off KwaZulu-Natal’s coast. ExxonMobil has applied for exploration rights which include plans for seismic tests in the Indian Ocean in the highly volatile Agulhas Current, bringing with it a potential threat to marine life from Richards Bay to the Eastern Cape.
So why, with the risk to people and the environment, do we seem to be falling deeper into this addiction to fossil fuels? The impact of volatile oil prices is changing the energy dynamics globally and some, like climate campaigner Naomi Klein, see this as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make major global changes to energy policy.
These could include a moratorium on drilling in the Arctic and on countrywide fracking following the example set by countries like Scotland. Prices for a barrel of oil are at 50 percent of their mid-2014 levels, suddenly making extreme energy projects like fracking far less economically viable. Some projects face the potential of becoming risky “stranded assets” for banks and investors.
In South Africa, however, growing domestic demand for energy from coal means that many new coal mines are likely to be unaffected by oil price shocks.
There is also interest in the potential for oil, so new mining licences for coal and exploration licenses for offshore oil drilling are being considered by government.
The country has plenty of low-grade and highly polluting “cheap” coal, one of the key reasons for Eskom building the coal-fired power stations at Medupi and Kusile.
What government, labour and civil society do seem to agree on is that we must undertake a just transition away from fossil fuels to a clean energy future powered in large part by renewable energy
A clean energy future powering a low carbon development path is possible. What is needed is a step change in ambition and political will to scale up the renewable energy revolution.
Nuclear is not an option. A R1 trillion deal could bankrupt the country, the environmental risks are too high and the 10-16-year build time would mean breaching the upper limit of our agreed carbon dioxide targets as emissions grow.
Renewables can deliver thousands of megawatts more quickly than any other option and are the only solution to connect finally the approximately 1.5 million people in rural communities who would otherwise stay off the grid. South Africa is among the top 10 countries globally when it comes to renewable generation capacity, but according to Eskom this accounts for only about 500 megawatts out of a capacity of about 44 000MW. This renewables figure is planned to rise to 3 725MW by 2030, accounting for no more than 8 to 10 percent of total generation capacity.
Back the renewable energy sector and the benefits will multiply. Technology solutions will improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of solar and wind turbine units. Advances in electricity storage will help unlock the biggest win, to extend access to electricity potentially through community-owned local generation facilities that move us away from massive central production and costly grid infrastructure. With scale, job creation will follow.
This kind of just transition will not happen overnight, but with the lights going out, people are no longer prepared to sit and wait for government and businesses to act. For too long, global leaders have failed us by protecting the fossil fuel industry and putting short-term economic and political goals before our long-term survival.
The global fossil fuel industry and the banks financing it can no longer neglect their responsibilities.
In South Africa that goes for Nedbank, Standard Bank and Absa/Barclays, among others who continue to pump billions of rands into projects across the continent.
South Africa stands at a crossroads.
Your bank, pension fund, university, church, mosque, synagogue and temple could be funding the burning of more fossil fuels, the destruction of more land and livelihoods, and an increase in water scarcity because it uses huge amounts of water to dig out, clean and burn coal. Worst of all, we risk perpetuating the environmental crimes that will see people pay with their health yet still have no electricity to show for it just as their parents and grandparents before them.
The alternative is to demand divestment and fight for a vision and ambition that will sustain communities and connect millions more to clean electricity.
That is why, on Global Divestment Day, we will be standing in solidarity with the millions of people fighting the consequences of our changing climate.
Fossil fuels are history, renewables are the near future.
Book your seat here.
Join the discussion here.
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