THICK END OF THE WEDGE: Trillion-rand nuclear build scares more than crows

Peter Bruce, BDLive, 27 May, 2016

A TRILLION rand,” Eskom CEO Brian Molefe told a young reporter for Radio 702 the other day, “is just a scarecrow. People get overwhelmed by it. I think our approach to finance is a little bit on the pedestrian side.”

Molefe was defending the government’s plan to build nuclear reactors capable of producing about 9,600MW of electricity. His strong support for the programme is music to the ears of President Jacob Zuma and the Gupta family, which hopes, along with Zuma’s son, Duduzane, to profit from what would be the biggest single nuclear order ever.

Zuma is desperate to nail the programme down and place the order before he leaves office in 2019. He has privately agreed with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin that Russian reactors would be used. Because of this secrecy and because of extensive corruption in Russia and, increasingly, in SA, the nuclear build is already deeply tainted.

It is Molefe’s enthusiasm for nuclear that has triggered speculation that Zuma may soon try to appoint him finance minister as the president has battled to find traction for the project in the National Treasury so far. The Treasury says the country can only order what it can afford…

Read the full article here

Wind and solar become new “base load” power for South Australia

Australia Energy Week, 16 May, 2016.

This article outlines precisely how/why we don’t need baseload power and increasing amounts of variable renewable energy can be integrated into the grid without creating reliability issues or increasing costs.

Wind and solar become new “base load” power for South Australia

By Giles Parkinson

It has only been a week since the closure of South Australia’s last coal-fired generator, but already a new pattern is emerging that points the way to a new energy system, away from “baseload” built around coal, gas or nuclear, to a new system built around wind and solar and other renewables.

This graph – provided by Dylan McConnell from the Melbourne Energy Institute, shows he first week of production since the closure of the Northern brown coal generator on May 10.

It shows wind energy provided the vast majority of power over the past seven days, supplemented by some rooftop solar, and by peaking and combined cycle gas plants.

This is expected to be the pattern of the future, as energy systems with high renewable energy penetration rely first on variable energy providers such as wind and solar, and then on “flexible” or “dispatchable” energy from the likes of gas, but ultimately hydro, solar towers with storage, and emerging technologies such as geothermal and ocean energy and battery and other energy storage.

Read the full article (very interesting!) here:

Eskom taken to task for its pricing structure

Engineering News, 18 May, 2016.

pendent energy adviser Ted Blom has lambasted Eskom for its pricing structure, saying it does not work to have cost-reflective prices in a monopoly. He told delegates at the African Utility Week that using the pricing system to justify very sharp price increases was hurting the South African economy. “The mark-up in the electricity price is killing industries,” charged Blom.

As Eskom faced no market competition, he said, it should not be allowed to motivate tariff hikes within the current billing system. “Electricity should not be run at a profit. It’s a primary activity in an economy, like water and infrastructure. The building blocks of your economy should not be profit-driven but cost recovery-driven, like Eskom used to be. “Prior to 2001, nobody had to call on guarantees from government. Why is the model so sick that we need double-digit increases every year?” asked Blom. Blom stated that the actual price of coal-based electricity was much less than consumers perceived it to be and hinted that a bloated bureaucracy was pushing up prices. “If you have poor policy, governance and regulation, you end up with an unfriendly tariff regime, which deters investors and industry. We should not be surprised to see we are not moving forward in our economy and seeing more unemployment every year,” Blom charged. National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) electricity pricing head Brian Sechotlho said there was a great need to encourage investment in the industry, but to do this, investors needed to earn a return on their investment. He conceded that municipalities as well as Eskom needed to be fully ring-fenced and keep proper records. Nersa last month said it wanted to establish a coal benchmark cost, based on the average rand per tonne cost of coal, as part of its decision-making process on Eskom’s multiyear price determination applications

Read the full article here

DoE unveils S.Africa’s first compulsory energy efficiency label

ESI Africa, 17 May, 2016.

South Africa’s Department of Energy today launched a new energy efficiency label that will become mandatory for household appliances.

Energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson revealed the new label at African Utility Week in Cape Town saying that a culture of saving energy was still “at a rudimentary phase” in South Africa.

Joemat Pettersson said it was an “uncomfortable truth that South Africa is among the least energy efficient countries in the world. When there is loadshedding, South Africans
look for more energy, rather than saving energy.”

Read the full article here.

Government dragging its heels in nuclear court case

SAFCEI, 16 May, 2016.

According to the court rules, Friday 13th was the day government was supposed to respond to civil society’s application to the high court, but failed to deliver their answering affidavits by this date.

“We have instructed our lawyers to apply to the court to force the government to respond,” stated liziwe McDaid, SAFCEI spokesperson. “We believe that the government is once again dragging its heels in responding”,

SAFCEI launched its court papers on October 12th 2015, and then waited for months for the Minister of Energy to provide the records of the decisions being challenged. In that period, SAFCEI and ELA generously allowed the government extensions which eventually meant that government only provided the requisite documents on 16th February 2016.    The nature of these documents led to a SAFCEI and ELA amending and supplementing its court papers, and the government deadline for responding to them was the 13th May 2016.

On the 6 May 2016, the state attorney’s office wrote to our legal team, asking for further extended timeframe. While SAFCEI and ELA will accept service of the answering affidavits on 20 May 2016, they have instructed their lawyers to issue a rule 30A notice to protect against further delays. The rule 30A notice was served on the State Attorney today.

SAFCEI and ELA have taken the government to court to stop what they believe is a flawed and illegal non transparent nuclear procurement process.   “Sensible South Africans want to see good governance.  The constitution and the laws of the country require a fair and transparent nuclear procurement process, and it is not a fair and transparent process when government makes decisions behind closed doors. Nor can it be fair and transparent while the government continually delays the matter from being aired in the courts.  If following the laws of the land becomes optional, then that will open the doors wide to corruption and government capture.” said SAFCEI Executive Director, Buddist Venerable Tsondru.