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Genesis 1, 28 says that we should "go forth and multiply, and replenish the earth." Not all Bibles have this "replenish the e...

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Nersa: Let's act together



Nersa is an Independent Regulator. As such Nersa makes the rules. As per the photo of part of a document in the header of this article, Nersa has already stated that Eskom is out of line, and Nersa has advised Eskom what needs to happen in terms of policy in the Energy White Paper of 1998 and the Renewable Energy White Paper of 2003, which advocated competition in the electricity sector. Not only that but we know that Eskom are currently operating outside their licence conditions, and they aren't meeting the requirements of the EIA's that they entered into with their public.


And therefore if Nersa are not enforcing Eskom's license conditions, then Nersa cannot enforce anyone else's license or registration.

Government represents the will of the people. This people will this government to act on this peoples behalf. If this cannot be done, then Nersa is not independent, but is rather a rubber stamping machine, and in the interest of efficiency and effectiveness, Nersa should immediately be disbanded. The same would then go for every other Public Protector type institution, and the Public will have no other recourse but to set up Prosecution Associations to defend their (the public's) interests.


For more than 10 years I have been writing letters to so many parts of government; I've spoken personally to many politicians and political leaders; I've spoken and had meetings at conferences; I've had letters and articles published; I've written commentary about Acts and Policy and Proposals; I've been to International Conferences and Spoken to International Energy Experts; and I've made suggestions as to how South Africa's problems can be solved. And I've been told that government will change the tariffs to solve the problems. And government will penalize private people who install infrastructure, because that infrastructure competes with government infrastructure. My wife constantly complains about the amount of money that we spend on infrastructure, and that we therefore haven't had a holiday for over three years. But in an insecure environment, one must protect oneself. This includes private police services and neighbourhood watches, private schools, private transport, private food supply, private water, private electricity.


Unfortunately government is getting advice from companies that have their own interests at heart, and perhaps the interests of the countries where they have their headquarters, and for 536 years these companies have hoodwinked the South African government's into believing their advice. This must end.


Nersa's mandate is to listen to all sides of the Energy equation and to Regulate, i.e. make regular (mundane) what happens in our most beautiful country.


South African citizens need cheap and abundant and clean and organic and quality electricity; cheap and abundant and clean and organic and quality water; cheap and abundant and clean and organic and quality food; cheap and abundant and clean and organic and quality air.


It is every citizen's right to be heard; it is every citizen's right to be able to compete with Eskom (and the other utilities) and to therefore be able to supply this country with the electricity, water, food and air that this country needs.

The competition Act wills competition. The Constitution protects peoples rights and gives the people access to level playing fields and a clean and healthy environment.


Over the past 20 years since I started on my mission to provide a safe haven for an unemployed population in a world without work, a world that is becoming known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and even the Fifth Industrial Revolution, I have met numerous citizen scientists and DIY'ers, who know how to make cheap and abundant and clean and organic and quality electricity, cheap and abundant and clean and organic and quality water, cheap and abundant and clean and organic and quality food, cheap and abundant and clean and organic and quality air, and it is now time for us to turn toward them to help us solve the crises that the current experts have gotten us into.


Unfortunately as Edison and Tesla and Einstein and many others have written about, experts are expert at protecting their turf, and their dogma. They have studied for decades to be expert at what they do. And in order to protect their jobs they need to protect their industries. Well the world is revolving, turning towards a new dawn, where millions of electrical and water and food micro-grids make up a much large whole, where the end user is a prosumer, responsible and understanding of xe's needs and understanding the complexity of xe's environment and able to contribute and maintain xe's environment. And if you understand history, then you know that in the late 19th Century, this was how the grid was, but that there wan't a regulator, ensuring competition, and so, instead, by 1904 1% of American companies controlled 45% of the manufactured products. And then these companies invented the term "natural monopolies" (to protect themselves and their long term investments, and they even created a term "stranded assets" which means that their customers pay them even if the customers have found better goods), which as we have come to see created the richest and most powerful people the world has ever known (Rockefeller, JP Morgan, Insull, etc), but which hasn't lasted, and most of these big industries are now failing, because monopolies are not natural. Just consider carrots. There are 100 varieties of carrot. Available for every condition, sun, rain, humidity, every climate, but we try to produce orange ones and create a "natural monopoly" and then we have crop failures.


It is now time to act, and Nersa acts in terms of the Electricity Regulation Act, No 4 of 2006. It is time to help Nersa rise to the occasion and achieve Chapter II, point 4(a)(iv) "issue rules designed to implement national government electricity policy". South Africa has incredible policy, as Nersa is well aware.


Our government has dithered about the new Integrated Energy Plan (IEP), and the new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), and it really isn't surprising, because government is only looking at part of the picture.


When one sees the whole picture, one can Act.

Let's Act together.

Monday, May 27, 2019

A world without work

For 20 years I've been designing a new retirement paradigm for a world without work.

Let me know if you'd like to discuss: david@mypowerstation.biz.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

12 times less cost

In 2009, I spent R160,000 taking 1/3rd of my house off the grid.

Every 10 years the value of the Rand halves, so in real terms in 2019, this R160,000 is now R320,000.

In 2019, I am spending R160,000 to take my entire house off the grid. And I am allowing my family to use twice the electricity as compared with 5 years ago.

So the real cost of a battery based system has dropped 12 times in 10 years.

I believed that this would happen and I’ve worked towards it, tirelessly.

Why couldn’t our utilities and their strategy and management consultants see what I saw 10 years ago?

And what will you do with this knowledge? Will you become a powerhouse like me, eliminate your negative thinking and depression, and work towards my dream of no cost of living, for ourselves, and our home, planet earth, and know the future, because you are creating it?


Please help me with this dream: https://www.patreon.com/mypowerstation 

Friday, May 24, 2019

Retirement: Air, Water, Food : Electricity

"Surprise, when it happens to a government, is likely to be a complicated, diffuse, bureaucratic thing. It includes neglect of responsibility, but also responsibility so poorly defined or so ambiguously delegated that action gets lost. It includes gaps in intelligence, but also intelligence that, like a string of pearls too precious to wear, is too sensitive to give to those who need it. It includes the alarm that fails to work, but also the alarm that has gone off so often it has been disconnected. It includes the unalert watchman, but also the one who knows he'll be chewed out by his superior if he gets higher authority out of bed. It includes the contingencies that occur to no one, but also those that everyone assumes somebody else is taking care of. It includes straight-forward procrastination, but also decisions protracted by internal disagreement. It includes, in addition, the inability of individual human beings to rise to the occasion until they are sure it is the occasion - which is usually too late. (Unlike movies, real life provides no musical background to trip us off to the climax.) Finally, as at Pearl Harbour, surprise may include some measure of genuine novelty introduced by the enemy, and possibly some sheer bad luck."
From Pearl Harbour: Warning and Decision, by Roberta Wohlstetter, Stanford University Press, 1962.
My comments: When our government and business leaders understand this quote, they will know why we are in this mess. I refer to water, electricity, State Owned Enterprises, corruption, transport, and so many other crises that have "slowly" crept up on us in South Africa, but which have been "visible" to some of us for decades.
"To carry out a timely response to warning ... two conditions must be met: we must not only receive warning, but also take the decision to respond. The first task has long been recognized; it calls for strong intelligence capabilities. It is the second task that has been neglected or misunderstood. We cannot assume that the enemy, if he actually plans to attack, will necessarily do us the favour of furnishing warning that is unambiguous. Military history reminds us that we ought to expect a massive and skilful effort at deception.
"The Soviet Union failed to anticipate the German Attack in 1941; the Soviets, in turn, surprised the Japanese in 1945. Despite the lesson of Pearl Harbour, we were caught unprepared again in June 1950 by the North Koreans. The Israelis achieved surprise in 1967, only to fall victim to surprise in 1973.
"It seems likely that skilful deception could deprive us of clear warning. Indeed, Soviet military doctrine puts great emphasis on deception and surprise. Hence we have to change our policy for reacting to warning. Our forces and those of our allies must be prepared to respond to warning indicators that are highly ambiguous ... Being prepared to respond only to warning that is unambiguous means being prepared for the kind of warning we are least likely to get."
Caspar W. Weinberger, United States Secretary of Defence addressing Congress, February 8, 1982
My Comments: This quote is just as applicable to a human enemy as it is to an environmental enemy. We are so brainwashed into believing that we need to save for retirement or that we need to buy expensive consumer "durables" like cars, watches, computers, phones, TVs, sound systems, even go to restaurants, or eat cheap food instead of organic healthy "expensive" food, that we have forgotten about the most critical things in life.
Analysis:
For me the most critical thing to be prepared for is to make sure that I am alive next week, in seven days time!!
What do I need to be alive in seven days time?
·     Electricity.
·     Water. Potable (Drinking) Water. And a way to collect and clean and keep water clean.
·     A Sewerage System. Maybe drop toilets or a septic tank and French drain or a biodigester.
·     A Waste Removal System, which could include recycling and worm farms.
·     Food. And food that can be kept outside a refrigerator and that won’t go off, e.g. dried fruit, dried meat, smoked foods, seeds and nuts, etc.
·     Refrigeration.
·     Shelter.
·     Security.
·     Clean Air. A Fellowes Aeramax is good for this, especially in a City with its dirty air.
“Surprisingly”, in 2019, I can make electricity and water and food and much else cheaper than I can buy it. And I can feel good about achieving the goal I set in 1999 of being able to “Live Off Grids”. Actually what I want is for people to share their surplus, which means we don't need e-volution, but rather re-volution. Not the dirty, waring revolution. But a revolution in the way we think. A new paradigm. A paradigm shift.
I have been on a “crusade” for 20 years, telling “the world” of my dream of being retired. And being teased about it by many of my colleagues and friends and neighbours and even by some of my family members for decades.
But my vision has been clear even through the dark times when people left me to my own devices because I was “out there”. If I was rich, I would have been eccentric, but I am an average middle class kind of guy, and so I am “out there”, and who wants to be with an “out there” kind of guy? Luckily my wife, and she is my strongest support and my strongest critic and whilst we fight about my dream sometimes, after our fights I always tell her that I love her and that I appreciate what she is telling me, and I love that she keeps me grounded whilst my head is in the sky and my mind is daydreaming.
A dreamer has a vision. A corporation has a vision. A vision is a dream; of the future; an achievable dream.
Retirement for me isn’t about having millions in the bank and living off the interest, or the annuity income.
Retirement for me is waking up in the morning and deciding what I want to do today. Retirement is about knowing the future. And that isn't actually all that difficult!
It is living in the moment, and if I feel like going on a hike, then that is what I’ll do, and if I feel like reading a book or writing an article then I’ll do that, and if I feel like writing a computer program or learning some new technology or mentoring or doing my strategy consulting, then I’ll do that. I am in the moment, in the now, meditating all the time, and being “on holiday” all the time. If one lies on the beach and worries about work, one is not on holiday! And the only time I am not on holiday is when something is urgent, because someone hasn’t done something by a certain date, or because there are loose ends, or because a delivery hasn’t arrived, or because my water project is three months behind schedule, because I constantly have one week delays or my suppliers and contractors don’t turn up for work or they don’t have the right tools, or they don’t understand project management.
In 1999 I did some consulting at one of South Africa’s biggest Insurers in Johannesburg, and when I came home, I phoned my broker and I cancelled (actually made “Paid Up”) my 3 retirement plans. I did this because of a 3 story marble waterfall in their entrance hall. I didn’t mind that the CEO drove a Rolls Royce. I did mind that they wasted my money on a valueless item in their foyer.
I decided that I would create my own retirement plan. And that if I got to retirement age and had no money, it would be entirely my own fault and I would only be able to “blame” myself.
You see, I don’t know anyone who can retire just on retirement savings. Even people I know who saved 15% (before tax) per year from the age of 20 and who retired at 65 don’t have enough to continue the lifestyle they had at 65, with their big houses and planes and yachts and other stuff. And until recently the retirement age in Europe was 60 for women and 65 for me. It is now 67 for women and 67 for men. After a lifetime of "saving for retirement", there just isn't enough money to retire, and so people must work longer. We need a paradigm shift in our thinking, a new way of thinking, and a way to get there.
And the ones who do manage to continue that lavish lifestyle are the ones with assets that they have built or save up for, e.g. buildings, or investments. I know people who have saved with experts who have actuaries and consultants and people earning R5 million per annum, really clever people with multiple degrees and the most expensive computer systems in the world, who still ended up losing hundreds of millions when a Dimension Data or a Siltek or a Steinhoff Crashed, or when the gold price crashed or America found new gas in the mid 2010's and so slowed down their appetite for Middle Eastern Oil and hence peoples’ returns in oil companies slows down.
And so I decide to help myself to retire!
And it was very simple. Ensure that I am alive in seven days time, no matter what happens on this planet. By doing this, I know the future. And I don't even need to be psychic.
And what of the seven days after the next seven days? If I (and my family and my friends, and the people I have promised to help) am alive in seven days, then I just need to repeat what I have just done. Staying alive from days 8 to 14 is exponentially easier than staying alive for the next seven days, especially if one considers what might happen if we run out of electricity or water.
In a modern city, using a Just-In-Time supply chain, there is 4 days of food in the supply chain. If that supply chain is disrupted for some reason, then in 4 days the supermarkets and my local shops will be empty of food.
If electricity was switched off today and only turned on again in 10 days time, due to a catastrophic failure, e.g. at De Aar switching station, (which is why there is an army base at De Aar, essentially to protect that switching station), or a terrorist group blows up the main electrical supply line from our power stations on the coal fields to Cape Town or to Johannesburg (and we cannot protect every km of that power line, although we can using modern IOT technology, but that is another 10 page article), then we will have a meltdown in our electricity system.
People and companies with generators tend to have 8 hours of diesel or gas reserves for their generators, so on the first day after the power failure all the fridges and freezers in the supply chain and in my house are switched off. On day 2 the food starts rotting. By day 4, most of the refrigerated food is spoilt. And the food in the supply chain is also spoilt. Riots break out as people search for food …
A one day electrical failure implies an immediate water crisis. Water is pumped about 100 km from Theewaterskloof dam to my house. A power failure means those pumps won’t work, and assuming Theewaterskloof was full(er), that water wouldn’t get to me; and Caltex Refinery would be off, and I won’t be able to get petrol to put in my car to drive the 116 km road distance to get to the dam. The sewerage leaving my house won’t be able to be pumped to the Athlone Sewerage works. Stagnant decaying sewerage is a recipe for Cholera and Typhoid.
Our water management crisis really isn't over, even if our dams are full. We are still restricted in the water we can use, and therefore our economy is constrained. What about if we have another water “crisis”, like last year in Cape Town, but we still have electricity, then we also have a really big problem. Imagine 4 million people queuing at 200 water collection points (20,000 per collection point; and assuming 100 taps, that is 200 people per queue, and at 10 minutes to fill a 25 litre container (bearing in mind low pressure due to low water in the dams, etc), that is 2000 minutes which is 33 hours per day!), where each person carries a round 25 kg container of water and tries to carry this home, one kilometre away. Have you ever dragged a 20 kg suitcase through a bus station or a train station or an airport? And this 20 kg suitcase is designed to be carried relatively long distances. A 25 litre water container is designed to be carried 10 meters to one’s car and another 10 meters from one’s car to the kitchen.
And after queuing for 6 hours, I finally get my ration of water, and as I’m leaving I get hijacked and I have no water. I then have to pay a ransom for my water, and I end up paying R50 per litre, when if I had just planned my own water provision I would be paying R50 per 1,000 litres. Yes, I know that I could previously get 6 kl “free of charge” or I could pay R120 for those 6 kl, but how expensive is this free or R120 6kl anyway, especially if there is no water, and I have just bought a new Rolex instead of providing for my water needs?
And then we have the poor complaining that the rich will have water and they will miss out. Well my poor friends, the rich have spent over R10 billion (this is my estimate and I believe it to be conservative (low)) on private water infrastructure between 2017 and 2018 during the main part of the drought, and because of their investments you will have water! You see whilst you think the rich are misers and only interested in themselves, the rich want to survive the impending water disaster as much as you do. And so this particular “rich” middle class citizen cancels 4 years of holidays, and works 16 months a year, so that he can pay for infrastructure that the government promised us in the 1996 Constitution and the 1998 Water Act and which the previous Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, took an Oath to deliver. And an oath is to God. And when Nomvula (which is a Zulu word meaning “with the rain”), who believes that it will “rain soon”, goes to heaven and she has helped 4 million people die because they ran out of water, then she will have her day of judgement with the King of the Universe.
And if and when Cape Town runs out of water (from the dams) then all the Smart Meters that the City is installing and the Billions of Rands and hundreds of people working on them will have been for naught. People will simply bypass their meters.
Farfetched?
Many people already steal electricity, by connecting themselves directly to electricity sources. And in many cases, Eskom does nothing about it, because Eskom is scared of entering those “crime hot spots” and the government is scared of switching off the electricity to those areas because then the crime will spill over into the neighbouring areas, where people are working and paying tax.
Our government says that they are installing valves in the system so that the 200 water collection points will have water, and so that critical infrastructure such as hospitals will have water. But if people can steal electricity, then these same people can drill into the water main and steal water. And the water meters will be useless and the 200 water collection points will have yet another reason why they won’t work.
Note that whilst the government says that this is the “worst drought ever”, statistically the current drought is the worst in 33 years. And yes, it is the worst Water Management Crisis ever. And when was the first Water Management Crisis? 1994? 1812? 1800? 1652? 1483?
Cape Town’s first Water Management Crisis was in 1800 and Cape Town’s first two dams on Table Mountain were built 100 years later because of this Crisis. Large scale infrastructure such as power stations and dams can take 50 to 100 years from conception to realisation, never mind the time it takes to fill the dam!
So since 1800 we have been aware that we are in a “water scarce region” and we have done little about it. I still see new cars. I still see people with expensive watches and going on holidays, when we already live in the most beautiful place in the world, and if we had abundant and cheap and reliable and clean energy (water and electricity) we could live here and have millions of visitors and be happy.
But instead we have bickering and infighting and one party blaming another and a party which could take action by doing a Mandamus doesn’t do it, and this Citizen does a Mandamus himself, and knows that the Constitution gives this Citizen the right to declare a State of Emergency should the Premier of the Western Cape be unwilling or unable to do it. See http://mypowerstation-sa.blogspot.co.za/2018/01/david-lipschitz-mandamuses-south.html
So when I spend R200,000 on a Solar Electric (Photovoltaic / PV / Battery System) in 2008 and my electricity cost is R5.00 per kWh when my neighbours are paying 50 c (South African cents), then it is up to me to choose how I spend my money. My neighbour taunts me that my electricity cost is so high, but buys a new R300,000 car and spends R150 per hour driving it. He spends 50 cents per kWh on electricity whilst I drive an old paid off car and spend R5.00 per kWh on electricity. Who is right?
Ten years ago it would have cost R600,000 to take my entire house off the grid, and I would have had to live frugally and constantly be energy efficient. Today I can take my entire house off the grid for R175,000, and I don't even need to be energy efficient, but I do need energy efficient appliances. This R175,000 includes a Lithium Ion Battery Bank and an LPG Generator and 6 kW of PV and a 10 kW inverter. And I get security of supply, and green electricity.
Do you want to be able to retire, securely?
Do you want to know the future?
Do you want to be stress free?
Do you want green, environmentally friendly, electricity, water, food and air?
Do you want security of supply of your electricity, and water?
Do you want to be secure in your electricity, water, food and air, knowing that its quality is constantly improving, whilst its price is constantly coming down, in real terms?
Do you want to help to bring in the new world, the new paradigm, and change how things are?
Yes to any of these questions? Please consider being my patron at https://www.patreon.com/mypowerstation.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Mabuza responsible for 2 million jobless

My letter in the Cape Times on Monday 20th May 2019

Newspapers are emblazoned with a report from Jabu Mabuza, Eskom's chairperson, and chairperson of Business Leadership South Africa, where he says "South Africa is facing 'unemployment time bomb'".

Eskom believes that it can employ everyone and pay them very high salaries!

Eskom and its construction company subcontractors have forgotten what electricity is for! It isn't for the number of people who can build power stations and how long they can be employed for.

Electricity is for the economy. For job growth.

If Medupi and Kusile Coal Power Stations were complete, as they should already be, then 2 million more people would have work.

Mabuza can blame himself. He, and his colleagues, got Eskom and South Africa into this mess. He must solve the problem, or resign.

I am also confused by the employment statistics referred to in Mabuza articles. If 27% of people are unemployed, which is 6.2 million people, then full employment equals 23 million people.

But there are 55 million people in South Africa. How come 32 million people are unemployable. I get that there are under 18s and over 65s and people who cannot work in the equation, but 32 million of them, which means that only 42% of people are employable?

If Medupi and Kusile were operational, then they would directly contribute 2 million jobs, and if Eskom could get its general efficiency from 60% to 92% where it should be, then perhaps another million people would have work.

And companies would be able to plan, knowing that there is security of supply, and would possibly be able to employ more people, so let's say this is now 4 million people.

Take 4 million from 6.2 million and you get 2.2 million and unemployment is then 9.6%, which is a much more manageable.

So Mabuza is directly responsible for at least 2 million people being unemployed and directly responsible for unemployment of 27% instead of 9.6%.

DAVID LIPSCHITZ, Milnerton

Thursday, May 16, 2019

What key factors stop Private Power Generation in South Africa?

(the small print: Quick Summary of this article: The world, Our world, has Changed, For the better, Forever.)

Believe it or not “the key factors” are only the ways we think.

[caveat: I welcome any responses, and critical appraisal. david@mypowerstation.biz]

We have been socialised (brainwashed) into believing that 24x7x365 electricity requires Coal, Nuclear, HydroElectric, Gas. But those run at a 92% capacity factor (per power station) and sometimes that goes down. South Africa is currently at about 60% as we regularly have only 28 GW available on our 46 GW grid. And in a Normal Well Maintained Electricity System there are times that power stations are switched off for maintenance, unexpected shutdowns, lack of coal supplies (for example), wet coal, broken supply chains, and all kinds of other problems.

Add to that that we only get 38% of the coal’s energy out of it, and then we lose up to 20% in transmission, we are at 30% capacity factor, which is the same as a wind farm! Of-course someone might say that we don’t get 100% of the wind’s energy out of the wind, which is true, but I’m just trying to make a point. Nothing runs at 100% efficiency. Solar PV is currently about 20% efficient, i.e. for every 100 Watts that hits the ground at sea level at 25 degrees celsius without wind, we get 20 Watts of electricity.

Then we are told that Solar and Wind and so on are intermittent and that they waste energy. This is true. If the batteries are full and the Pumped Storage is full and there is “spare” wind or sun, then that spare wind or sun is being “wasted.” But it would have been wasted even more if we didn’t take the free energy out of it!
The sun is shining for a few more billion years regardless of whether we use the energy for electricity or not.
And then what about the coal power station? Let’s assume you want to BBQ (braai in South Africa) for your friends at 6pm. When do you start the fire? 5pm? When does your utility start the fire? 5am?
Of-course the utility models how much they expect their customers will use, but when you turn on the light, there is electricity, and if you turn on your kettle, there is electricity, and if you turn on your swimming pool pump, there is electricity. Now try turning one of those things off for five minutes, and then switch it on, there is still electricity! So what happened to that electricity for the five minutes you didn’t use it? It was wasted! And the utility has to factor in this “wastage” in its selling price and you / we have to pay for unused (wasted) electricity.

So we have the technology to do what we need with Renewable Energy. And we have the money. But we don’t have the will, ie we have a thinking problem.
People have temptation, and people have free will. A person's will is their ability to overcome their temptation. For example a runner gets out of bed at 5am to run for an hour before getting ready to go to work. So much more tempting to stay in bed for that hour! The same with anyone who uses their will to overcome their temptation. Normally we only think of sexual temptation, but there is temptation everywhere. One temptation is to use the Coal (because it is readily available, like a prostitute on the corner) and other resources because they are there. But someone famous once said : I hope that we don't have to run out of coal and oil before we start using solar energy. It was Thomas Edison. From a religious point of view, one could say that temptation comes from the d-evil, and free will comes from God. Who will win? Up to you, and me. Evil is live backwards. Evil is the unconscious. We have to be conscious (awake) to use our free will. Apathy is so much easier, and hence why it is so much easier to be a couch potato and watch TV or play computer games, than to spend one's time writing essays about energy.

And one of the reasons we don’t have the will is because of something called “Stranded Assets.”

In my small SME (Small and Medium Sized Business) business, let’s suppose I buy a piece of equipment, and I don’t use it? I’ve still paid for it. And let’s suppose I buy some software for $1,000 and then I only use it for three months before I find something better, I still need to pay the capital cost of the $1,000 equipment. This actually happened to me this year. I paid about $1,600 for some software and a month later I got a contract using some other software that I’m expert at. This $1,600 is “wasted”, as next year when I perhaps go back to this software, I’ll need to pay another $1,600 to upgrade again.

But (coal) power station owners get special treatment. If they can’t sell their electricity, then someone (you and me via our government - we are called the underwriters) pays the power station to be “stranded.” There is almost zero risk of owning a coal or nuclear or gas or hydro-electricity power station, at least from a being paid point of view. You could also have this (see link) problem and then you have other worries!

And if you’ve signed for coal and your power station is five years behind schedule, then every month that you are late, you still have to pay for the coal supply, assuming that the coal mine that was meant to supply your power station is on time with their delivery.

And this “stranded asset” problem allows utilities and their managers to make massive (expensive) mistakes. In South Africa’s case, our government has spent US$28 billion on two coal power stations that were budgeted at $10 billion.

So if we’ve (over) spent $28 billion out of a $10 billion budget AND we are five years behind schedule, what do we do? What would you do? What if you had decided to build something that was going to cost $1000 and now it was $3000, would you stop? When would you stop? At $1200? Or maybe at $200 when you realised that it would cost $3000? And would you decide to build using a new technology for $10 billion or would you do a prototype project for $100 million first to see if it works?

I wrote in 2010 that we should scrap this new power station build. Imagine if we had. Maybe we had already spent $1 billion. We would have saved $27 billion, which is a lot of money. It equates to $260 million a month of capital and interest repayments and this at 10% interest over 20 years. But Eskom, South Africa’s utility is at Junk Bond Status (you can see why!), and so its borrowing cost is likely to be closer to 17%. With $530 million a month, you can make a big difference in people's lives, especially in a poor country like South Africa. And at the moment this $530 million a month is going to the financiers regardless of whether people and business actually get electricity or not.
IMHO, this $530 million should be paid per month, and the power station build should be stopped! This is the same advice I gave in 2010 when we had perhaps “only” $18 million a month to pay!
But this requires leadership and we don’t have leaders in South Africa anymore! At least not at the national or provincial level. And if a bank fails or a government fails, then normally we would have a war, but as you’ve seen with “quantitative easing” over the past 20 years, no-one wants war. And in any case, there is a very big alternative now, that we have for the first time in history, and you’ll see what it is - carry on reading.

But hey, if you own or build coal, and if you make a mistake, someone will still pay your salary! Not so for me, an entrepreneur, who has to be mighty careful not to be negligent, especially with my shareholder’s (my wife and family!!) money. An Eskom director has no sureties, no cares, gets paid handsomely for making mighty big mistakes, and really doesn’t care about it, because if his asset is stranded, he still gets paid. But he should sign surety. And then the world will change.


Graph showing when we get to Grid Parity without Batteries in South Africa. With some assumptions, like 100 kW build (12 houses). The green line is reducing cost of Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Electricity. The red line is what homeowners are charged in the City of Cape Town. The purple line is what homeowners should be charged if the City of Cape Town put up their tariff at the same rate that Eskom puts up their tariff to the City, and the Blue line is what the City pays Eskom for electricity. Note how the red line is increasing quite a bit faster than the blue line!
Having said all this, we are finally at Grid Parity including batteries in Cape Town. Grid Parity means we can make our own electricity cheaper than we can buy it, excluding batteries. As can be seen from the graph above, we got to this point in 2012. Grid Parity Including Batteries means that homeowners and SME’s can make our own electricity cheaper than we can buy it, including with batteries and generators!

This means that Eskom and the Municipalities are already irrelevant and redundant, for the rich and for the poor, especially the off-grid poor!

They can threaten us, cut us off, and so what! They can say they’ll cut off our water, but we just had a “drought” and most of the people I know have installed rainwater collection systems and systems to make their well point or borehole water drinkable. Note that before the “drought”, which was actually a water management crisis (Cape Town’s “first” Water Management Crisis was in 1800!), and a drought in thinking, one didn’t need a license to have a wellpoint or borehole. Now the government says people must “Register”. But history has proved that the only reason for registration is for taxation, as one “Re-venues” oneself. No registration. No tax. A recent case in point in South Africa is Road Tolls (eTolls) in Gauteng. Those who registered must pay the eToll. The other people who did not register are liable for zero payments.

On 3rd December 2013, I went to see Alderman Ian Neilson, Executive Deputy Mayor and Head of Finance for the City of Cape Town, who also happens to be a Water Engineer. I explained that by 2020, his (DA) government would be redundant and that he should put measures in place to ensure that people did not “Defect” from the grids, and his government should put incentives in place for people to invest their hard earned money in embedded generation for the City to buy.

I explained that unless he change his thinking (the subject of this essay and answer to the question in the subject), he would be redundant because by 2020 (next year!!), we SSEG people will be able to make our own electricity and water (it is now relatively cheap and painless to even make water from the air) and food and everything, cheaper than we can buy it from the conglomerates, including government, and dare I say it, Amazon and Alibaba.

I presented this case to him and explained about Grid Parity and Stranded Assets. He said, “we’ll change the tariffs”. Fiddling whilst Rome Burns! And he is still changing tariffs, making them worse and worse and chasing more and more people from his electricity grid, and away from his “company.”

And most recently our city has told its few registered SSEG (Small Scale Embedded Generation) electricity suppliers that it will stop special treatment of SSEG’s. At the moment, this “special treatment” involves paying 50 cents per kWh for the electricity an SSEG sells, and charging R1.25 for electricity that the SSEG buys. And there is a Service Fee! But now the municipality is going to charge these SSEG’s the same as they charge everyone, which will be R2.50 a kWh from 1st July 2019. [Please note that these aren’t exact prices, but they are approximations, from my memory and they are here to serve a point.]

I know someone who has already defected. And the council met him and said “we’ll disconnect you”, and he said “go right ahead.” The main disadvantage of this “go right ahead” is that he will never be able to sell his house, as current legislation says that a house must be connected to the grid and its electricity payments must be up to date. And this person has stopped paying his service fees. And he has lived in his house for decades, and it is self sufficient in electricity and water, and could even sell electricity and water to its neighbours, so he doesn’t want to sell. And I’ve lived in my house for 23 years, I want to live here forever [and one day when I want to sell, Eskom won't exist in its current form anymore, and the current "law" (as agreed by the citizens) will have changed, and won't matter).
And so eventually there will be millions of people making electricity and water and other “public goods” and the government won’t have any income. 
And guess what. It won’t matter!
Before governments, which arrived in the 19th Century, we had Friendly Societies and Prosecution Associations. South Africa’s biggest and oldest Financial House, Old Mutual, started life as a Friendly “Mutual” Society, in the 19th Century.

Ubuntu


And South Africa has the principle, although latent (unused) of Ubuntu, which means All for One and One for all, or alternatively “I am my brother’s keeper!” or “I am because we are.”

We are together, South Africans, and we are building embedded generation and embedded water and embedded food systems, and other systems, at rapid rates, for everyone. We are rebuilding the Social Fabric of Society with helpful systems like Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and free libraries, free Maps, so much free stuff.

Our government says that electricity use is decreasing and therefore we need fewer power stations. But that is because they can’t provide the electricity that people need and therefore people are installing their own power stations or generators. Our government says that they narrowly averted a major existential crisis when they made sure that the Western Cape did not run out of water in 2018. But government spent R12 billion on Water Infrastructure in the past 10 years, and in the two years of the drought, ie 2017 and 2018, private people spent R10 billion on private water infrastructure. [This is my extrapolation based on the number of water containers sold and then looking at the number of people I know who not only collected rain water but also put in potable water systems.]

And if you look at Tanzania (I was there in 1999 when everyone including all hotels and business and government businesses all had water and electricity backup systems), and you look at Ghana and you look at Zimbabwe (which can have 24 hour periods without electricity), you will see that everyone there already has their own backup generators and water systems. And they accept it as fact, and they don’t complain about it. Their investments in being self-sufficient have paved the way for the rest of the world to follow suit, with resources that won’t damage Earth’s fragile climate (I use “climate” in the full sense of the world - our climate (thinking) is changing - and we should welcome it!).
And this is therefore happening in South Africa, because we are African, and it is the African way for people to BE because of YOU.
We are because we are decentralised “tribes.” Just like we’ve been since ancient times.

At some point tribal leaders tried to make countries out of tribes. And that has failed miserably. Including in Europe. The Treaty of Rome is brilliant. Freedom of movement of people. Freedom of movement of capital. Freedom of movement of goods. But the Roman Treaty did not ask for a central authority (“Brussels”) to meddle in local affairs. And hence why Brexit will return the local lands to their local peoples. And then locals will again be able to make their own cheeses, make their own whisky and brandy and “champagne”, and make their own products of all types. And locals will again be allowed to be "poor".

My definition of a poor person is someone who doesn't pay tax. And this is what the centralised power hungry politicians fear the most.

Tribes do not work at a national level. People always vote for the same party in Africa, regardless of their government record, because of tribal allegiance.

But tribes are by nature small, efficient, agile, nimble. And that is where we (finally) are (again) in South Africa and in Africa, in 2019.

Renewable, decentralised, energy is allowing for a return to our ancient ways in Africa. And in the world at large. We are going back to the small self-sufficient-communities of the 15th Century, before “enclosure” turned poor, but self sufficient, peasants into destitute (dependent on the “new” system) slaves. Read The Voluntary City. And even though slavery has been abolished, most of the world are wage slaves, working to pay their bills. Not too many people earn whilst they are sleeping or away from “work.”

The world that I saw / dreamed / visioned in 1999 is becoming a reality. And it is thanks to a process that has changed our thinking for us, without our even knowing it.

This latest essay has crystalized 20 years of thinking and countless thousands of hours of R&D and has allowed me to finally come full circle and I can finally relax just a little bit. I’ll continue to be the starseed that I am, bring seeds for people to plant, and having ideas in my own one person think tank. Actually there are about a dozen people in this think tank, and without you all, I would long ago have “left” and gone back "home" to "the father".

The world has changed. That world actually killed me in 2016, but I lived, and Karma and my colleagues (you know who you are) have allowed me to live. And I am grateful that I will be able to live forever as an African, in my beloved country of my birth, continuing the tradition of countless generations before me.