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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...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

South Africa's National Development Plan (NDP) in Mortal Danger. 2013-09-10.

"Development Plan in Mortal Danger"


My comments:

"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" from Hamlet by William Shakespeare : http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/something+is+rotten+in+the+state+of+denmark

If the ANC implements the NDP, the chances are they will win more votes. If they continue to create promises and not implement them, they will lose votes. Yet they say that they won't implement it until the voters give them a mandate to implement it! But the voters don't know about it because it hasn't been implemented!

The ANC is out of touch with reality. I don't agree with everything in the NDP, but the ANC needs to start implementing it asap. I commented on it in May 2012 and it was "adopted" in November 2012! Yet the ANC has done nothing to implement it. It as put together by a whole lot of "commissioners" supposed to be experts in their fields. And then with hundreds of "Active Citizens" like me commenting on it. You can read my comments here: http://issuu.com/davidlipschitz/docs/npc_plan_2030_david_lipschitz_comments_final

It is a 40 page response to the 440 page National Development Plan (NDP). I didn't get a response even though I took a week of my time to read the plan and write my response.

It has become typical of the ANC to create policy, like the very good, Energy White Papers of 1998 and 2003, and then do everything to prevent their adoption in the worse case, or else not even try to implement them.

Yet we voters allow this government to spend R7 billion on consultants every year. If only the consultants would actually be told to implement what they have written.

Can anyone help us solve this problem?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Message to my followers

Dear all

Sorry if you have received a number of messages today. I have just copied all my posts from my Net Metering BLOG to my My Power Station BLOG as I am closing the Net Metering BLOG at the end of September 2013.


The Localisation Myth - 2013-08-14

The Localisation Myth.

The government keeps saying we need localisation and I agree with need it in the textile industry, but not in the Renewable Energy Industry. See why here.

Localisation is yet another government (DTI in this case) ploy to delay Renewable Energy adoption in South Africa!! I am not making this up. Dr Hermann Scheer says this in his book, The Solar Economy.

After Feed In Tariffs were "introduced" in South Africa a number of huge international PV and Wind Turbine companies started building and investigating building manufacturing plants in South Africa. In order to build these plants they need orders of 1GW per annum each. We were even going to get the very first Silicon Manufacturer built in the Southern Hemisphere at the Old Burg River Textiles Plant in Paarl. FITs never happened and these companies left in disgust. They won't be back until they get to 1GW of sales per annum in South Africa.
Furthermore, the NPC (National Planning Commission) report says that 11 million more people must be employed in South Africa by 2020.

My research shows that 75% of jobs are automatically "localised" in a Renewable Energy system, eg designers, installers, call centre staff, support staff, electricians, distribution chain people, inspectors, etc. If you visit a modern PV plant, there are hardly any people.

And what about the mass consolidation happening in the PV industry at the moment and the many businesses going out of business due to lack of profitability? Who in their right mind would want to open a new factory in a globalised world?

And Engineering News says somewhere that they expect 100,000 people to have jobs in RE manufacturing in SA. Sounds good?

Ok, what about the other 10.9 million people who need jobs? And the ONLY inhibitor in South Africa is a lack of electricity.

We need to get electrification going as fast as possible in SA. The only "incentive" we need is not financial. It is that government adopt their energy and renewable energy policies of 1998 and 2003 allowing for Reverse Feed and 30% of the Grid to be privately owned by 2010! IPSA spent billions building power stations due to this policy, but AFAIK, they have now sent all their equipment overseas, because Eskom chose not to buy their electricity, and also prevented them from Wheeling the electricity across the grid, something that is allowed in Australia, where my brother buys Green Electricity across the Grid.

With the Eskom and ANC monopolies in South Africa, and their narrow minded thinking which taxes our means of production (electricity, water, rates, high taxes on petrol, e-tolls, high cost of doing business, red tape, etc), rather than getting taxation from growing businesses (company tax), Nothing is going to happen in South Africa until the Voters demand that our electricity prices come down and the only way this can happen is with a decentralised electricity system where homeowners and SMMEs can get the same benefits as big business, eg rebates, Demand Response, Time of Use Tariffs, etc. This is where I am focussing my efforts.

Brian Dames and Dipuo Peters speeches on 14th May 2013

Brian Dames, Eskom CEO, at the African Utility Week this morning says that "gas is clean." 

What he means is that gas is cleaner to burn than coal. What he doesn't say is exactly how dirty it is to get gas out of the ground. And he also says that a national gas grid can be "easily" created. Amazing: what I've read suggests that if we go all out with gas in South Africa, we will be 12 years away from a real gas supply.

The other horrifying news which comes out of Dipuo Peters', Minister of Energy, budget speech today is that the government continues to support Nuclear as another clean way of powering South Africa. The word Nuclear appears 14 times in her speech; gas 10 times; renewable 10 times; roof-top PV once.

"Nuclear will help to leap-frog South Africa into the knowledge economy as well as massive industrial development." This at the same time that the rest of the world is dramatically reducing nuclear usage and moving to renewables and smart-grids. Note that electricity itself doesn't help leapfrog anyone. It is the results of this electricity. Nuclear will take around 15 years to build including EIA's, opposition processes, etc. Unless of-course the ANC gets its 2/3rds majority next year, in which case it will probably ignore environmental legislation and process.

And she says that South Africa has won awards for its incredible renewable energy program! It's a real pity though that this program completely ignores the small consumer and SMMEs, and their potential contribution to energy saving and production in South Africa.

In the meantime the levy that was instituted to pay for the Feed In Tariff (subsequently cancelled) will increase from 3.5c per kWh to 4.5c per kWh from July. Part of this levy is being used to pay for Solar Water Heaters.

David Lipschitz comments on the 2013 City of Cape Town Electricity Strategy. 2013-05-10

City of Cape Town Electricity Strategy comments by David Lipschitz.

I have downloaded and read the electricity strategy. I am very disappointed with it. But why should I be disappointed? It has become very obvious to me that this government does not want renewable energy production. And this even though we paid 2 cents per kWh tariff on our electricity bills for two years and for the past 2 years have been paying 3.5cents per kWh. Over R20 billion collected to pay Feed In Tariffs, etc, but no willingness on government to actually use these taxes for the purpose we are paying them. The same goes for the plastic bag tax and the car emissions taxes. Then we'll have the carbon tax from 2015 and all for the single purpose of collecting more tax. With no wish to implement Renewable Energy as envisioned in the 1998 and 2003 government white papers, ie government strategy.

And if you look a the graphs in section 1.2 you can see that we are currently 30% under our expected consumption. This because of massive efficiencies in households and businesses mainly due to electricity price increases and also solar water heaters, insulation, CFL's etc. Cape Town continues to grow fast, yet electricity supply is not growing. Yet we have been asked to save even more electricity. Are we mad? And what of the huge growth in electricity income for the City over the past 5 years? Where has this money gone? Why can't the City implement its own Feed In Tariffs to make Cape Town a world class city? Cape Town will be the Design capital of the world in 2014, but we may just be the laughing stock of the world!

Part of the reason also stems from the fact of industries continuing to close and the strikes which have the perverse effect of South Africa using less electricity.

And then if you look at 1.3, you see the words "where practical" and "finalization of national technical specifications" and "PPA's with IPP's" and nothing re residential and SMME roof top solar; nothing re Net Metering; nothing re Tariff Strategies for residential and SMME electricity users. Why not?

All this is geared to: 1) keep the small producer out of the equation; 2) further delay the adoption of RE (the government has been working on the specifications for a decade, yet there were companies reverse feeding the grid in the 1960's without any "technical" problems; 3) "where practical" means that no matter that Reverse Feed happens in millions of locations around the world, it is not practical in South Africa, which is fixated on the income it can derive from electricity pricing, instead of realising that we need electricity to grow the economy and the money should come from taxation associated with corporation tax and employee tax.

Furthermore in this section, we have the threat of Load Shedding and the request to switch off at peak times. Why should we do this? Switching off at peak times simply makes Eskom and the Cities richer without any benefit to the small users. Big users get paid to switch off and reduce load. Small users just get inconvenienced. It costs Eskom between R6 and R13 a kWh to run the diesel powered Ankerlig peaking power station, depending on who does the calculations. This electricity is sold to the residential customer at R1.50 a kWh. Why not allow Time of Use Metering and Net Metering and residential customers could thereby be incentivised to feed the grid at peak times? How much better it would be for Eskom to pay private people R2.60 a kWh which is there peak demand winter tariff? Everyone would actually be better off. At the moment, everyone, and especially the South African economy, is worse off.

And the department is "in the process of establishing a smart meter pilot." This pilot has been ongoing for years with no end in sight!! Why can't we actually do things instead of talking and writing about them?

It is time to start producing electricity so that the economy can grow. Until this happens South Africa will continue to be the 37th fastest growing economy in Africa and one of the world's poorest performing economies in an age of mass sustainable employment elsewhere in the world.

Written after David Lipschitz presented to parliament in November 2009. Many of the issues are still the same. 2013-05-05

Written after I presented in parliament on behalf of Free Life On Earth in November 2009. So much of this is still valid; so much that should have happened hasn't happened; and so much of this is applicable to our Anti-Fracking Movement.

Dear all

Disclaimer: please note that the ideas and solutions presented below are my own and may not represent those of Free Life On Earth.

After two days in Parliament and feeling very tired, I feel the need to write a summary of what transpired - in summarised form as I have 20 pages of A5 format notes - and a huge number of handouts as well as mailings from various presenters - and lots of ideas about what can be done. (I see that this summary is 3 pages long, so I have put especially important bits in bold (you can't see the bold in FB).)

There were about 30 presentations in Total. We have been told that they might be available on the government web site at some point. I'll let you know. There were about 100 people in the Old Assembly Chamber each day and about 20 of them were MP's besides the portfolio committee chairpersons.

You can see me in action on our Free Life On Earth BLOG. Scroll down to FLOE Speaks Up in Parliament.
I came away feeling happy that these events took place inside parliament considering that FLOE has attended these types of conferences before. For example the Energy Caucus Conference. These conferences have happened outside parliament and there was a suggestion at the June Energy Caucus conference that we present in Parliament and this has now happened. [2013: these energy caucus conferences have stopped. I guess they were before their time!!!!!]

The main points in FLOE's presentation were:
* we need to consider internalising the externalised costs, eg costs to the environment, water resources, air pollution, etc;
* we need to think about decentralising centralised electricity production and allowing private citizens and business to make their own electricity and easily supply the grid;
* we need to separate Eskom into a Generating Division and a separate Transmission and Distribution Division. We called this division the National Grid Company.
* Many of the chairpersons of the parliamentary portfolio committees were there, for example, Finance, Agriculture, Environment, Energy, etc. One of the presenters said that it was the first time in three years of presenting to parliament that there was such a great cross-section of representatives from the different portfolio committees who each have a serious concern about Climate Change.

My first learning point from this conference was that whether climate change is happening or not, environmental degradation and destruction is happening at a faster and faster rate. Many scientists believe that man is not responsible for climate change, but what is a fact is that the following IS happening:
* forests are disappearing;
* fisheries are dwindling;
* agricultural land is disappearing;
* although crop yields are up, quality in terms of minerals and vitamins in the crops are down;
* crop production and cattle production especially by formerly disadvantaged communities is down in many places. One presenter, who lives in a "location" next to Sasolburg said that cows are now routinely sold for R4500 each whereas before they were sold for R6000 each. And this isn't because of the recession. It's because the cows are thinner;

* health risks, especially in terms of deficiencies and mental health problems, are increasing;
* pollution is increasing, not just air pollution, but environmental pollution;
* pollution of water is scary, especially pollution from open cast mining, for example coal mines. 60% of rain water is trapped underground and under normal conditions runs off into river systems and dams slowly. Mines can be as close as 100 metres to river systems. If the underground or above ground water gets into the mine on the way to the river, it causes Acid Mine Drainage as the water becomes acidic. Not only this, but the water is contaminated in many other ways;
* Our country's security is under threat as more and more people leave drought stricken parts of Africa and make their way to South Africa. I'm not xenophobic. But if we are to support these people, we need to protect our water resources.
* What's the point of having a coal mine operational for 20 years and then have water problems for 100's of years afterwards? One presenter said that environmental cost to repair our water resources in the mining areas is R14 billion per annum for the next 100 years!! Eskom pays R18 billion per annum for its coal. Eskom's external costs of water and air pollution are R16.5 billion. So Eskom are telling us that they need to triple our costs in the next three years just to pay for their new build. After that they will need to double our costs to pay for their pollution. Our electricity bills, if left up to Eskom, could go up 6 times in the next 5 to 10 years. How can we afford that? Why should we?

Now you might say that the external costs are ok, but the EC and other areas are putting bills through their parliaments which will help them decide where they buy their goods from and they might not buy from high polluters! What happens then?

40 New Coal Mines by 2020? A presenter showed that many of the new coal mines will be in the major water sources of the Orange River system which feeds millions of people downstream including in Gauteng? What's more important? Electricity or clean water? What is truly more precious? Water or Electricity? Especially if we can make electricity using wind, sun, ocean currents and tides, rivers, geothermal, etc? How long can we survive without electricity? How long can we survive without clean water? And why are the farmers up in arms?

We have a Feed In Tariff implemented in March 2009, but no process to allow Power Producers to connect to the grid legally. NERSA's document says that Standardised Direct Agreements and Connection Agreements will only be available in March 2010. Presenters from Deloitte and Touche and Nedbank said they have clients with 100s of millions of Rands to invest in projects, but the government is dragging its feet and not allowing these developments to go ahead! Why not? Maybe Eskom doesn't want competition. Maybe they are scared that there really are cheaper forms of electricity than coal and nuclear. Maybe?

We heard about "state of the art clean coal" from one of the ministers. Simply put, Eskom finds ways of trapping the green house gasses and other noxious by products of coal burning and therefore the coal burn is clean; ie the air is clean. Even if 100% of the dirty stuff is trapped, where will the dirty stuff (sulphur and other waste products) be stored? And what of the coal mines and the acid mine drainage?

One presenter said that Eskom should pay for the roll out of solar water heaters instead of paying for a power station. I have done some calculations: 100 Billion Rand for a power station equates to 10 million solar water heaters at R10,000 each. That's at least one solar water heater for every house in South Africa. And after this there are hardly any running costs and no raw material costs. And many many jobs will be created. And there will be less need for coal mines and less acid mine drainage. It takes 8 years to build a big R100 Billion power station. Imagine if 5,000 solar water heaters were installed per day all over South Africa. How many jobs would this make? How many solar water manufacturers would pop up?

We are told that the power stations take 8,000 people each to build. And 1,000 people to run a power station. Consider that the equivalent is 5,000 solar water heaters manufactured and installed per day!! For 8 years! According to ITS Solar, a water heater saves the equivalent of 2,900 kwh per annum. At 8 kwh per day and assuming the heater is on for 4 hours using 2 kw to run, we are looking at a power station replacement of 2 000 W * 10 million which is 20 GW. So if we roll out 10 million solar water heaters we get 20 GW of energy for the same "price" as 5 GW of coal energy. We are talking about vastly different "prices" here. One for a sustainable clean reliable generator of heat. The other for a dirty, unsustainable, continuously increasing in price, source of electricity to make heat. We have the heater. It's called the sun. It's much more efficient to use it directly to create heat than to create electricity to create heat. (If you are thinking about buying a solar water heater, please email me for a competitive quote.)

If my calculations are correct, we would need to spend R400 Billion to heat the same amount of water using electricity as R100 Billion will heat if we use the sun. Which is cheaper, more reliable, and efficient?
So to get back to the hearings.

A presenter said that if the taxi fleet was retrofitted with catalytic converters, we would have an instant "forest" as the emissions using catalytic converters are hydrogen, oxygen and water. I haven't checked what it will cost to convert my car, but I intend finding out. And this creates jobs for the catalytic converter industry in South Africa, which unfortunately uses Platinum, but I think a good cost benefit (including external costs) could be done especially as one doesn't need more Platinum once the converter is fitted.

So what do we need to be concerned about?

1) Eskom is owned by the government of South Africa which is elected by the people of South Africa. It is therefore owned by the people of South Africa. The people of South Africa therefore have a say in how we get our Energy. With more jobs or with more money to a few already incredible rich people? We can't the people take responsibility for part of their lives and not leave everything to the government? If the government does something, they need to raise taxes. We pay!
2) One of the chairmen said that "South Africa has the most cohesive policy with regard to climate change in the world. See the National Climate Change Report of 2004." Well if that's the case, then why aren't we rolling out massive solar water heater and photovoltaic and wind projects as is happening in Germany, Spain, China, and other countries? Where is the problem?
3) Whether Climate Change is happening or not, Environmental Degradation and Destruction IS happening. What are we doing to prevent it?

Lastly I wish to concern myself with a question that kept popping up at the conference: "Who Pays?"

The answer is that whether we pay now or we pay later, we all pay. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Someone pays. At the moment the environment is paying, but the environment is getting cross and the environment is getting sick. And we are getting more stressed and we are getting sicker. We are popping more short term fix pills and hoping that one day we will find a "pill" that will solve our environmental problems.

So what to do:

1) Keep canvassing;
2) Keep lobbying;
3) Understand what is happening;
4) Reduce your meat consumption by half. 18% of greenhouse gasses come from cattle. 13% from transport!
5) Don't buy any more plastic toys for your children for the next three years. (There are lots of other types of toys, eg township children make their own toys; and there are things like Meccano which used to be made out of metal.) Don't throw away any plastic products unless they are being recycled. This will send a message to the manufacturers that we are fed up and sick and tired of supporting industries that aren't kind to the environment;
6) Remember that the customer is truly king. What we buy or we don't buy depends on us. The suppliers want us to buy with lots of advertising.

So how to truly change:

Change your mind set. Consider a paradigm shift. "Successful people are environmentally neutral or carbon negative" instead of "Successful people having bigger cars or bigger houses or holiday houses or golf clubs or whatever." I have huge satisfaction in knowing that my spending behaviour change has contributed to the sustainability industry instead of the car industry. One could say that my new car is on my roof, making electricity and saving coal on a daily basis. Helping to really make the world a better place in my own small way.

Join the revolution today. Are you concerned that if changing your habits will mean job losses? If so, you are wrong. More people will be employed. Car manufacturers will become solar panel manufacturers. Fewer machines. More job satisfaction. More people working from home. More fed people. More sane people. More money in the local communities. More happiness.

Lots of love and I look forward to your comments,

Creating Jobs by solving South Africa's Energy Crisis. 2013-02-07

Nuclear Power and Fracking vs Renewable Energies

I've learnt from Einstein's writings that engineers and scientists typically want to sell existing technology they specialise in and are loath to learn new technologies. This has dramatically slowed down progress over the centuries.

The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) of 2010, which is South Africa's strategic document for energy expansion and implementation until 2030, gives nuclear a high risk factor of 10 out of 12, whereas Wind has a low risk factor of 2 and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), which uses mirrors in a "solar farm" to heat salt to 800 degrees celsius scores a 5 out of 12. Nuclear is therefore high risk from a Cost Assumptions, Lead Time Assumptions and Operations Risks point of view. It scores the same as Wind from a Security of Supply point of view! Solar Photovoltaic systems were not scored in this risk analysis, but gas scores between 6 and 10 out of 12. Coal scores 7.

One can therefore see that the government's own studies show that renewable energy is far less risky than nuclear, coal and gas, yet this government is doing its best to prevent and/or delay the adoption of this technology.

Not only this, but the new build of 9.6 GW of Nuclear energy, representing 5 Koeberg Size power stations, is somewhere between R377 billon and R1.4 trillion, depending on who does the analysis and depending if cost overruns at new nuclear power stations are taken into account. How come after more than 60 years of building nuclear power stations, we still don't understand the costs?

The time scales are also long for non-renewable energy. The first phases of the two new coal power stations, Kusile and Medupi, should have come on stream last year and assuming the government says Nuclear Will Happen, then it could take up to 15 years for this energy to come on stream. Renewable Technologies can come on-stream in weeks, and in a country with massive unemployment, this factor should be considered.

And even if South Africa decided to destroy its pristine Karoo by allowing Fracking, it would take at least 12 years for the production of this dirty energy to come on stream. And South Africa is not the same as the USA which has established gas usage mainly used for district heating, as well as cooking and heating homes. The USA already has piped gas. It already has the knowledge to pipe the gas from Source to End User. South Africa would need this and without this one can assume that the government's intention if they allow Fracking would be that most of the gas is exported. The Karoo would be ruined. And South Africans wouldn't benefit. And we'd need to spend hundreds of years cleaning up. Some rich people would become richer, which the majority of South Africans would become poorer, not just financially, but also naturally.

In the meantime South Africa suffers in a recession of its own making. The reason? Lack of electricity supply! There are people who want to expand operations, but can't because of lack of electricity. There are people who want to build shopping centres, but can't because of lack of electricity. And there are even people who want to build houses, but can't because of lack of electricity. And yet our people cry out for housing!
South Africa's central problem is lack of electricity. And this lack is effecting every one of our citizens now.
Enter CSP, one of the many renewable energy technologies. Spain regularly runs its CSP Plants for 16 hours a day. This is done by having a storage system, would could be molten salt or molten sulphur. 16 hours a day could be 6am to 10pm, which would more than cover South Africa's peaks, which are 7 to 10 am and 6 to 8pm. The evening peak demand is higher than the morning peak. And CSP has already run for 24 hours per day! CSP technology is getting more and more efficient, and cheaper and cheaper. Nuclear is getting more and more difficult to implement due to safety concerns and more and more expensive, not just because of safety, but also because of expensive mining operations and the need to rehabilitate the mines and keep out of date reactors cool for hundreds of years after they close.

CSP with storage is already cheaper than Nuclear to build.

If the many South African nuclear and nuclear construction engineers applied their minds to CSP and the other Renewable Energies, our electricity crisis would soon be at an end. If homeowners were allowed to produce their own electricity and use Time of Use Metering to restrict electricity usage at peak times, our electricity and jobs crisis would soon be at an end.

And South Africa would start increasing its growth pace from being the 37th fastest growing country in Africa to the fastest growing country within a decade. Ghana, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Botswana are all growing faster at more than 6% per annum. South Africa languishes as around 2% per annum, not enough to create new permanent employment.

The big question is: when will South Africans realise that renewable energies are the answer to our problems and that the shortage of electricity is happening now and that we can't wait decades of new fossilised fuel energies? By 2017 our electricity prices will have increased 540% since 2008. Is this sustainable? Is our economy becoming more productive? And is nuclear going to a part of this mix?

"David Lipschitz is a software developer who developed a passion for renewable energy 9 years ago when he realised how expensive our fossilised fuel energy would become both in financial terms and in environmental terms. David is a available for your financial software projects as well as in writing about energy. David is also an accomplished conference speaker and can do motivational talks to your company, residents association or board of directors. Contact David on 021 551 9935 or david@mypowerstation.biz."

Grow Green. David Lipschitz Letter in the Cape Times on 19th November 2012

David Lipschitz's letter in the Cape Times today:

There are alternatives to the strikes, unemployment and massive problems afflicting South Africa.
The population of South Africa is being hampered by government legislation that prevents private people and businesses from selling electricity across the national grid. Yet the energy policy white paper of 2003 says that competition should be allowed.

South Africa is at a state of war with itself because of rapidly rising prices and growing unemployment, similar to what is happening in Greece and Italy. The National Planning Commission's report shows exactly how the unemployment figures are massaged and it is not good reading.

However, there is an alternative. Safe, green, sustainable, electricity, with the price coming down every year or at the very least never going up again - ever.

However, the government sees electricity as a cash cow, instead of realising that electricity is there to grow the economy. If the economy grows there will be less unemployment and therefore people who feel better about themselves, who earn rather than receive grants and who therefore strike less and cause fewer problems. People who work and earn a living feel good about themselves. People who receive grants feel terrible, although our government believes this is the only way to get votes, because they see these people as dependent on them for handouts!

If government allows electricity, transport, water, fuel, etc, costs to stop increasing and even start decreasing, by levelling the playing fields, as is envisaged in our policy and strategy, South Africa will grow as fast as the 25 countries in the world which are growing at greater than 5% per annum.

We might even grow like Ghana and other countries and like China has grown, ie at 10%+ per annum. At this rate, unemployment will be gone within 10 years. South Africa will be the richest country in the world. We have resources and we have population growth. With electricity we can turn these resources into finished goods for export to the world and especially Africa which will be the world's biggest market within the next 10 years.

There will be no need to export our raw materials and jobs to countries which are adding Gigawatts to their electricity grids weekly and making the finished goods that South Africa needs, whilst using South African raw materials! Hence making our balance of payments and exchange rate worse at exactly the time these factors should be improving.

Although South Africa'a problems seem complex, they have a simple cause. When will we wake up and realise this?

High electricity prices and cross-subsidisation are hurting the poor. 2012-11-03

What's better? A sustainable economy with great low cost sustainable electricity supply and massive job creation leading to higher overall corporate and personal taxation? Or weak electricity supply with high costs, low security of supply, but where grants are given so that the poor can have electricity?

Potential 20% price increases from Eskom over the next 5 years and 9% per annum after that!!

"Eskom calculated that it needed 13% annual increases over the next five years to meet its own needs, and another 3% annually to support the introduction of Independent Power Producers (IPPs), bringing its request to 16% annual increases for the next five years. However, later on, it was explained that if further demands were made of Eskom after Kusile completion, with Eskom needing to supply 65%, its request would be 20% over the next five years, and 9% over the next five after that. These figures excluded municipal increases. In order to contain and create a safety net to manage the demand, within the assumed demand growth, Eskom had suggested an energy conservation scheme, coupled with a legislative framework if necessary. Block tariffs were to be revised to cushion the poor, using a simpler, two-block formula. Energy saving programmes such as solar energy, CFC bulbs and solar geysers, would continue." From Eskom's Multi Year Price Determination Document submitted to Parliament on 30th October 2012.

If you are paying R1000 per month now, you will be paying R3000 per month in 5 years time and R5000 per month in 10 years. And your bill has increased at least 150% over the past 5 years from perhaps R400 per month.
This is purely a tax for the rich (and the truly suffering middle class who are living off their bonds and credit and which is truly unsustainable) to pay for the poor's electricity, with Eskom taking its massive profitably cut in the middle.

Yet it is negative for the economy. So many more people could be employed; so much more business could be done; done much more corporate tax could be paid; so much more PAYE and UIF could be paid: IF ONLY WE HAD ELECTRICITY. And how do we get this electricity? By creating the competitive environment as envisaged in the Electricity White Paper (policy document) of 1998 and the Renewable Energy White Paper of 2003. These are great documents.

But the South African government is doing everything in its power to prevent competition and thus prevent Renewable Energy. For example, to install a rebated RE system in South Africa, one needs to follow 15 laws, 10 standards and fill in 10 documents. In the USA there are 2 laws, 3 standards and 1 document. In Germany the process takes 8 working days. In South Africa it can take months or even years as government delays and delays again.

And if you are watching the news and seeing strikes and unemployment rising in Italy, whilst Germany is the power house of Europe, then you can see the similarity with South Africa. Italy has a monopoly, Enel. South Africa has a monopoly, Eskom. Enel put huge rules in place that prevented RE adoption. Eskom put huge rules in place that prevents RE adoption. This myopia damaged the Italian economy in the long term. Does this need to happen in South Africa as well?

Rules (laws) are changed in 3 ways. Government changes them whilst people are asleep, except for Fracking!!! Big Business gets the rules changed using lobbying. Private people get the rules changed by mass action, peaceful or strikes. Unfortunately strikes damage the economy, but in some cases strikes have led to better working conditions and better economies.

The power is truly in our hands. But will we use it?

South African Strikes and the Electricity Crisis. 2012-10-19

In my humble opinion, the major problem in South Africa is lack of electricity. We are somewhere between 5GW and 40GW short depending on who you talk to. South Africa's biggest exports are raw materials and jobs. And then we import the finished goods when we could manufacture them here. Our balance of payments is badly skewed for such a resource rich and employee rich country. Yet the government sees electricity as a taxation cash cow and milks it at every opportunity. However electricity is an enabler that gets an economy going. What's better: a few billion from electricity sales or country growth at 7%+ like at least 25 other countries in the world (in this so called recession) which would add over R400 billion to South Africa's GDP in the next year, and therefore R120 billion to the governments's coffers as the government represents 30% of our economic spend. Our failing: lack of electricity.

And yet we have incredible policy like the 2003 Renewable Energy White Paper which calls for increased competition in the electricity sector. And the recent renewable energy announcements like Feed In Tariffs in 2008 (supposed to be implemented in 2009) and then the IPP bidding windows (which have been delayed time and again).

Why hasn't the policy been implemented? The same reason as the policy in Italy wasn't implemented in the 1990's. Enel. Enel is the Italian monopoly. It helped to create a series of laws which prevented the adoption of Renewable Energy (RE). South Africa has 15 laws, 10 standards and 10 documents one needs to fill in to be connected to the electricity grid. The USA has two laws, 3 standards and one document. In Germany it take 8 working days to get a grid connection, reverse feed and feed in tariff agreement. In South Africa it is almost impossible, yet companies like Mondi have this agreement!

This overburden of red tape and bureaucracy is what is causing the lackluster implementation of RE in South Africa at exactly the time we need it most. We can decrease our costs whilst at the same time all become power stations helping ourselves and helping the economy at the same time. Yet we are prevented from doing this by our government and by Eskom, which say one thing and do another. Yet the citizens of South Africa are lashing out at high taxation and high electricity, fuel and food costs. And the solution is so simple! We can copy what other countries are doing at no cost to ourselves. We don't have to invent anything. Many of the problems foreseen in the 1990s have been solved, even though Eskom still sees them as problems.

The grid should be a nationally owned resource which people can feed into and take out of. This is called "retail wheeling" where a power producer can sell to a power consumer. And there are already retail wheeling tariffs in place, for example in the City of Cape Town. The City of Cape Town even has a Net Metering Tariff, but there is no way to implement this and so the tariffs send false signals to investors and homeowners and waste huge amounts of consultants and potential installers time.

This green washing should be illegal. Sending a message whilst preventing its adoption should be illegal. Someone should be accountable for this disaster.

Retail Wheeling is already in place in grids like:
  • The train network in Europe where private train owners like Virgin can run their trains on the public network
  • The airport network worldwide where operators pay to use airways and airports
  • The telephone network which is the most complex system of all in terms of its billing.

In each of these cases there is a charge per km and a charge for using the station.

And there is a process in electricity called Net Metering which allows one to sell electricity and buy electricity at the same rate. I have said that I am prepared to sell at my rate less the retail wheeling tariff and to buy back as my rate. With a R3000 smart meter it isn't difficult to know how much one buys and how much one sells. And this meter can automatically update a central database.

Then there is the problem that Eskom keep telling us about which is peak demand which is outside sunny hours in South Africa. Yet Eskom created a standard called NRS 097 02 1 in December 2010 which allows Net Metering and Time of Use (TOU) Tariffs. And this Standard was adopted by NERSA in November 2011!!! TOU Tariffs in the City of Cape Town have a R5939 per day service fee. This service fee prevents homeowners from using TOU Tariffs and therefore helps to prevent the adoption of NRS 097. Yet it gives large users of electricity the opportunity to save money, make higher profits and pay their directors bigger bonuses. If the TOU Tariffs where R1.50 at normal (standard) time, R3 at peak time and 75 cents at off peak time (10pm to 6am), then the homeowner would be incentivised to cook at 10pm. For example a few weeks ago my wife ran our washing machine and did some baking from 10pm to 12pm. Why did she have to pay the normal rate for this usage?

In parts of Europe the rate is determined per minute and in some cases one can get electricity at 1 Euro Cent a kWh. Therefore in South Africa when the turbines are pumping and the sun is shining and the other RE sources are feeding power and the pumped storage dams are full and the big users have taken the additional demand they need at these points, then the price of electricity could be dropped to 10 cents per kWh. I know three friends with Kilns. They could set their Kilns to run at this low tariff.

TOU Tariffs also incentivise people not to use electricity at peak time and importantly incentivise people to install battery backup systems so that they can sell electricity to the grid at peak time.

Eskom currently spend between R4 and R11 per kWh running peaking power stations, in many cases using diesel, so if they can get electricity at R3, its a bargain for them.

And then there are solar powered power stations which have storage which is done using molten salt or molten sulphur. There are already power stations in Spain which run for 16 hours a day using the sun. And there are already cases of these power stations running for 24 hours. And these power stations cost less than nuclear power stations to build. And we have the huge North West Cape and Namibia region where these power stations could be built and a one hour time difference to the Eastern Part of South Africa, so there is a way to solve our electricity crisis, even at night.

All this renewably, sustainably, with prices that are coming down rather than going up. And this will avoid further widespread violence in South Africa because prices are going up so much faster than people's wages. The government says that job creation is its highest priority, But currently it is exporting jobs at an alarming rate to countries like Korea, China, Germany, etc, which are adding vaste amounts of electricity including renewable energy weekly. It is estimated that by the end of 2013 Germany will have more photovoltaic PV electricity than South Africa's entire capacity and that in 2013 China will add more wind energy than South Africa's entire capacity.

The RE industry worldwide is growing at around 14% as a whole and the PV component of that industry is now growing at 40% per annum and for the past 10 years it grew at 35% per annum compound annual growth rate. The reasons are obvious. People want cheaper electricity. And they also need electricity for their economies, businesses and homes.

The answers are available. They are easy to implement, but they demand that we all stand together.

Will we?

Ekurhuleni Reverse Feeds the Grid. What about the rest of us? 2012-10-15

If you're the government then you're always first, even when there are already thousands of people with PV in South Africa.

But perhaps they mean they are the first City to reverse feed the grid.

But if government can reverse feed the grid, why can't the rest of us?

Reverse Feed means feeding electricity into the grid.

Rooftop Solar Revolution Book. 2012-09-12

This is truly excellent news. It is great to have books like these which support the Solar Revolution which is now a Social Revolution rather than a Technological Revolution, as the technologies now exist and their pricing is approaching grid parity in many parts of the world. From a really simple point of view, all we need is Net Metering and Time of Use (TOU) Tariffs and no service fees, except perhaps a Retail Wheeling tariff for electricity sold into the grid. The Time of Use Tariffs are required so that homeowners and others are incentivised to move their electricity use outside peak time. In South Africa, our peak times are 7 to 10am and 6-8pm. My wife did some baking last night at 10pm. She should have received a lower electricity rate for consuming this electricity late at night. Also Concentrated Solar Technology with Storage has reached parity with Nuclear build costs and so should be built instead of nuclear. Concentrated Solar has the further advantage that it will supply peak load, something nuclear cannot do.

Stop Complaining and Start Doing. A paraOlympic example. 2012-09-09

Some good news and possibilities ...

With so much "bad stuff" going on, I am so happy to have witnessed the amazing athletes at the ParaOlympic Games. The Parallel Olympics.

South Africa has 8 golds, 12 silvers and 9 bronzes, making 29 medals. And we are 17th on the log at the moment, ie in the top 20 countries. I am very proud of our guys and girls. They have inspired me to continue reaching for my ideals and values in this difficult world in which we live.

Initially I felt sorry and compassion for them. But after a few days, I realised that they don't feel sorry for themselves. They are an inspiration to all of us, whether we have physical or mental problems. We can overcome them. We can even overcome our environmental problems which lead to so many mental problems!!

We just have to stop complaining and start doing. As soon as this happens, our world will truly change for the better.

I won't make a decision because I don't want to make a mistake. South African Government Officials. 2012-08-31

South Africa has lost 350,000 jobs and trillions of rands of economic turnover in the past decades.

Jacob Zuma accurately sums up the problem: exports of raw materials, especially coal and other commodities, and imports of finished goods. Why is this? The report concludes: cheap Chinese imports. As usual South Africa and its consultants blame external factors.

The real underlying problem in South Africa is a severe shortage of electricity which is rated as being between 5 GW and 30 GW and within 10 years might be closer to 40 to 50 GW. This lack of electricity means that a resource and labour rich country such as South Africa cannot turn its own raw materials into finished products, and rather has to export them, use other countries labour and electricity, and then import finished goods. What a waste!

There are 1000's of applications from industry, builders, entrepreneurs, shopping centre owners, etc, for electricity provision and these are being denied by Eskom and the Cities in South Africa. And South Africa cries out for housing. But how can our government build houses if it can't supply them with electricity?

At the same time as this renewable energy, especially solar photovoltaic and wind energy are growing at close to 40% compound annual growth rate. The reason for this: they are cheaper than "normal" coal and nuclear power.

Economically the reason for fast growth of a sector is because it reduces costs and/or increases productivity and profits. This is exactly where China is now. It will add more wind power this year than South Africa's entire electrical capacity. Germany with 40% of South Africa's sun hours will continue to install the majority of Photovoltaic panels. If they can do it, why can't we do it at 40% of the cost?

Meanwhile Eskom, the ANC, the DA, the Cities and others, sit back and prevent private homeowners, SMMEs, Industry and Miners from producing their own electricity. The reasons are many, but the main one I hear from government is "I don't want to make a mistake, so I am waiting to see what mistakes other countries make." In the meantime, Africa is losing out because of its myopia in terms of questions such as: how much local content can there be? Who cares, in the short term? The reason I say this: electricity is an enabler. It gets the economy going. The cost of unserved energy in South Africa costs the economy R75 per kWh. And whilst our governments, both DA and ANC, languish in their myopia, with a view to how much money they can make from electricity sales, and how many jobs they can create building power stations, they miss the bigger picture, of how much damage they are doing to the South African economy, which sits on a huge resource base and a huge labour pool to turn these resources into finished goods for Africa and the world.

Greyton unreliable electricity. 2012-08-25

From one of my friends who lives in Greyton: 4 or 5 electricity outages this month, sometimes for two days at a stretch.............

I recommended:

Please ask everyone you know to Like NetMeteringSA. When we get to 50,000 likes we will change South Africa. We can already make our own electricity cheaper than we can buy it. And we can make it reliably and 24 hours a day. People think that renewable energy is only available during sun hours, but there are lots of different renewable energies:
  • Solar (from the Sun), eg for Heating and Cooling using Solar Water Heater and Solar Air Heaters; Photovoltaic for electricity; Concentrated Solar Power Trough (CSP); Concentrated Solar Tower (CST)
  • Wind, eg Wind Turbines on Land and on Sea
  • Water: eg River, eg Micro-Hydro and Large Hydro-Electric
  • Water: eg Ocean Currents (flow 24 hours a day; equal to a constant 80 km per hour wind)
  • Water: e.g. Tidal Power, Wave Power
  • Geothermal
  • Biogas: eg from Sewerage, Municipal Solid Waste (the black bins you throw away), Food Waste, and from waste products from farming
  • Storage, eg Battery, Pumped Storage using large dams, CSP with Storage and CST with Storage, Ultra-capacitors, etc.
  • Regarding Battery: note how the battery in your cell phone has reduced in size over the last 20 years and increased in capability at the same time. This revolution is happening in the large battery industry as well.
So I have listed over 20 ways of using renewable energy. Contrast that with fossilised fuel energy:
  • Coal
  • Nuclear
  • Gas
  • Oil
And since 1991, the cost of buying electricity using fossilised fuels has increased from 10c per kWh to R1.47 per kWh in the City of Cape Town, whilst the cost of making electricity using Photovoltaic technology has reduced from R11.50 per kWh to R1.36 per kWh. Prices include VAT. We need to thank Germany for noticing that fossil fuel costs would dramatically increase from 1991 to 2012 and that they needed to incentivise industry to reduce renewable energy costs. Germany introduced the "Feed In Tariff" which helped this revolution to happen. Note that there are also immense subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and even to the car industry, so governments incentivising industries is not new.

Back to Greyton: I would write to Eskom and your municipality and say that you pay them for reliable electricity. If they can't provide this, then it should be an automatic indication that you can install your own Grid Tie System with battery backup. See what they say :)

Warning to renewable energy investors; opportunity for social entrepreneurs. 2012-08-10

David Lipschitz, letter in today's Cape Times:

Dear Editor

Alan Winde's announcement of the Western Cape government's "intention" to create jobs in Western Cape is just that: an intention. When business reads this, it invests.

Since 2003, and especially since November, 2008, the local and central governments have been making announcements of their intentions. Companies have invested hundreds of millions of Rands in being ready for these intentions.

To no avail. Whilst government is saying one thing, it is enacting every possible legislation to prevent or slow down renewable energy in South Africa. This should be illegal and it is known as Greenwashing. Saying one thing publicly whilst doing something else entirely.

As an example, South Africa has 35 rules for generating electricity using the sun. The USA has 6 rules.

So this is a warning to any new market entrants. Be very careful with your hard won savings and investments. Many companies have come and gone in the past 5 years. Many fortunes have been lost in this latest gold rush where the gold (energy) is lying in the streets, but where government is preventing people from picking it up.

Although we have an ongoing electricity crisis in South Africa and South Africa's biggest exports are jobs and raw materials, due to lack of electricity supply to convert our raw materials into finished products, government is doing everything they can to constrain the economy by its myopic electricity policies. The fastest way for South Africa to get out of its electricity crisis and associated recession is to enact the NERSA legislation allowing "Embedded Generation" with "Net Metering" and "Time of Use Tariffs" for homeowners. This will mean that private people will generate all their own electricity whilst the tariff structure will mean that people will do everything they can to minimize their electricity use at peak time, ie 7 to 10am and 6 to 8pm.

Technically we can solve our problems. And from a money point of view, we can reduce our electricity and therefore petrol, food and all our other costs, by up to 85% over the next 20 years. These cost decreases will enable massive expansion in our economy so that we become one of the world's powerhouses with zero unemployment and massive government health, education, and other social investments supported by taxation rather than borrowing.

Our problems are not technical. They are social. And until we all work together and trust each other, we will continue in this environment of constantly rising prices.

Yours sincerely,
David Lipschitz
Ph 021 551 9935