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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Renewable Energy Examples Offered

Dear all

Letter in 12th November 2014 Cape Times. They called it "Examples Offered" and I wrote it in response to John Walmsley's request for examples and his belief that only Nuclear Power can offer countries, specifcally South Africa, the base load it needs.


Dear Editor

John Walmsley's letter
​, "Offer an alternative" (Cape Times, November 10th),​

What us homeowners and roof top owners want to do is supply the grid with electricity, not only during the day, but also at peak time and at night. This is something that the nuclear engineers and their colleagues haven't heard and don't understand.

After all, how is it possible for a homeowner to supply the grid with base-load electricity? Well, thousands or millions of homeowners working together in a distributed energy internet can provide this level of sophistication
 and the technology and finance is available to make it happen at a huge economic benefit.

The big systems installed in South Africa, by Eskom and the so
called "independent" power producers, supply large
scale electricity exactly as Walmsley has described. Erratically. Varyingly. But not unpredictably. They are essentially designed to show South Africans that
​ renewable energy 
does not work, so that nuclear and coal engineers and their suppliers can build old fashioned technologically out of date fossilised systems that others in the world don't want anymore.

Walmsley wants examples. Two that come to mind are Wildpoldsried in Germany and Tsumkwe in Namibia.

In 2011, Wildpoldried was supplying twice as much power as it needs, using 
​ -​
 in a farming community
​ -
 with electrolysis systems making hydrogen and methane, and a small 
tation. Germany has 40
​ percent 
of the sun of South Africa, therefore the same financial investment in South Africa would yield 2.5 times the amount of electricity.

And because this electricity is localised, the homeowners can decide which day to use their excess electricity and which days to conserve. Eskom, with their large scale wind farms and solar plants cannot do this, an "essential" design flaw in their system, designed to sway the taxpayer to
​ believe 
that the only solution is large scale coal and nuclear power, with huge, but "necessary" environmental and financial costs and risks.

Tsumkwe is an example of an "off-grid micro-grid", which also became operational in 2011. Until 2011, NamPower
​ was​
 supplying diesel to run generators 12 to 14 hours 
 day, but they had problems with the supply, with frequent breakdowns, inability to get trucks through on 
​sandy ​
desert roads, and other problems. A 200kW off
rid system with batteries was installed, plus energy efficiency, plus a special tariff structure, and now the generators only need to run 
 day, yet the town has electricity 24 hours per day.

The cost saving is initially 25
​ percent
 and will grow as diesel and other costs increase
 and solar electric costs keep coming down.

When we change the way we think, the answers will be obvious.

How do we change our minds? That is the question. And they only answer I have to constantly ask questions, to constantly find out what other communities around the world are doing
 and to constantly discuss the options we have.

Yours faithfully,
David Lipschitz

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