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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Saving for a rainy day

Dear friends

We put money away for a rainy day.

We have insurance to cover us if something gets stolen or if our house burns down or if our property is damaged.

We have pension plans.

So from these things that we do, we can see that we think about the future and we prepare for it.

However, we are really only between 2 and 4 days away from catastrophe at any time! So why are we planning for events in perhaps 30 years time, but not being prepared for events tomorrow?

So what can possibly go wrong in the next few days which should concern us?

Our electricity supply is becoming more and more precarious. Eskom should be able to supply 42 GW of electricity but on a regular basis it can only supply only around 30 GW. The grid infrastructure is overloaded which puts a large burden on transformers which are reaching end of life in half of their usual life, ie 12 years life instead of 25 years life.

Our grid itself is behind with maintenance and many of our power stations are already beyond end of life and are being kept running, but who knows when they might break.

Our best coal is exported and we use poor grade coal in our own power stations, and everyone knows what happens to their car engines when they use poor grade oil in them!

And then Eskom have shown since Koeberg was built in the 1970's that they cannot manage the build of new power stations which usually take years longer to build and are usually 50 to 100% over budget, yet we continue to allow this.

With all this damage being done to our system, willingly or unwillingly, we are placed in a dilemma.

If our electricity supply is suddenly switched off the following will happen very quickly:

  1. Most people are meat eaters. They won't be able to cook their food, unless they have reserves of braai (BBQ) wood. They will get hungry.
  2. Backup generators will kick in. Many of these only have 16 hours of reserves which is seen as more than sufficient under normal circumstances, e.g. expected power failures of 1 to 4 hours a day.
  3. After 16 hours the Backup generators will stop working.
  4. Petrol pumps won't be able to operate because they rely on electricity.
  5. All transport will stop within days. There is only 4 days of food in our supply chain, and without transport, our just-in-time systems will not be able to be replenished. And there won't be transport to get diesel to our backup generators.
  6. Water pumps won't be able to operate because they rely on electricity. So we will be without water very quickly. We won't have drinking water and we won't be able to flush our toilets. And we can survive for 2 weeks without food, but we cannot survive for 2 days without water. How many people have got water backup at their houses and businesses?
  7. Within days, fridges and freezes will get hot and food stored in them will be useless.
  8. Within one to four days there will be a complete breakdown in all forms of civil obedience. Hungry, desperate people, who normally aren't violent, will suddenly become violent as they search for food and water.

So should we care? And what solutions are at hand?

If you are interested in finding the solutions for yourselves, then please go to the Renewable Energy Festival at the Green Point Park in Cape Town on Saturday 8th February 2014. Renewable Energy isn't only about electricity. It is also about water, about food, and about self sufficiency. So renew your energy and keep yourselves secure. See you there.

I am also available for consulting. In as little as an hour you can get a handle on what you can do for yourself, your family, your company and if you have staff, your staff. If you need more details, my colleagues and I can also provide whatever depth of knowledge you need.



  1. If only we could find a way to get people to work together for our own common good, we would be able to solve our problems.

    South Africa is one of the very few countries in the world with ample raw materials, eg coal (for power stations and coal to oil), off-shore gas, bauxite (for aluminium), iron ore (for steel), platinum, more than enough space for food if we use it wisely, more than enough minerals for our own companies to manufacture and for us to be a net foreign currency earner, i.e. more exports than imports. We have more than enough people to do the work.

    But we export all these raw materials for them to be made into finished goods which we import. This cases us to have a terrible exchange rate and very high inflation. And South Africa's true biggest export? JOBS!!

    The only thing missing is ELECTRICITY. Eskom can supply about 30 GW, but South Africa's real demand is closer to 100 GW. Eskom and the government (DA and ANC) holding onto the power they have in their small electricity incomes are missing the bigger picture of how electricity can change South Africa's economy.

    I pray that we all wake up and make our beautiful land much more beautiful, before it becomes an unmanageable state of war, which is so unnecessary in the 21st Century.

  2. http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2014-02-05-analysis-bonfires-of-discontent-in-horrifying-numbers/#.UvOOwpQ-JUl

    This is what happens when more than 70% of our rates is spent on rebates of one sort or another, instead of our politicians working to grow our economy.

    The rebates include: free water, free electricity, free rates, massive spending on training programs, free sewerage, free cleaning, free toilets, etc.

    This is all very nice, but people want to feel valued, And the only real way they will feel valued is if they have jobs.

  3. Six of the ten biggest power stations in the US are fossil-fuelled, while the other four, including the two biggest Grand Coulee and Palo Verde, are hydro -and nuclear-powered.

    I recently read an energy site that profiles the
    ten biggest power stations in the US based on installed capacity.