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Ancient Teachings

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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Renewable Energy 2015

If everything is renewable then we all eat the same food, we all drink the same water, we all breathe the same air, we are all made with the same stuff, and for all intents and purposes we are all the same. I mean we are 99% the same, but until this century we have focussed on our differences.
In 2015 let us start focussing on the 99% that is the same. Let's start helping each other, liking each other, trusting each other, and looking for the good in each other. Even when bad things happen.
Happy new year 2015.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Cape Times Letter: 22nd December 2014: Make A Difference

I refer to my letter on November 6 in the Cape Times: "Delivery of power solution needed, but not at huge cost and long waiting period".

Many people disbelieve what I am saying, that it is possible for millions of homeowners and small business owners to work together in groups called embedded microgrids, to create baseload electricity for the grid in the 21st Century.

Well, here is one of the word's biggest companies, Alstom, saying the same thing:
It's time for the general public to believe that we can make a difference and perhaps next year we will start powering the South African electricity grid and helping Eskom and the Department of Energy with the massive task they have to kick-start the South African economy.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

My Power Station - Embedded Generation

Dear all

Many people have disbelieved my writings over the past few years. Well here's one of the word's biggest energy companies, Alstom, saying the same thing!

I've been writing about Embedded Micro-grids for some time and renamed my company My Power Station a few years ago. Here is an example of a recent article that appeared in our local Cape Times newspaper in Cape Town: http://mypowerstation-sa.blogspot.com/2014/12/delivery-of-power-solution-needed-but.html


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Become a Power Station

7,843 people have signed a petition to stop poaching.

Only 226 people have signed a petition asking the South African government to Level the playing fields in the electricity sector. This will decrease our cost whilst improving our economy.


If we have enough electricity, we'll have enough jobs, and people won't need to poach!!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Load Shedding and Power Failures effecting you? Please sign this petition

To my friends:

I just signed this petition -- please will you join me?

South African Government: Level the Playing fields in the Electricity Industry:

To: South African Government

The petition is really important and could use our help. Click here to find out more and sign:

Thanks so much,

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Eskom's 400 Nkandlas

Dear all

Letter in 4th April 2014 Cape Times.


Dear Editor

I've been wondering what all the fuss is about re our president's chateau? After all it is "only" R250 million. But our two new power stations, Kusile and Medupi were quoted at R79 billion each, and are currently R50 billion over budget each. R100 billion is 400 Nkandlas!

And Eskom have said that these new power stations won't even include the environmental requirements as per their Environmental Impact Assessments. So the costs are even higher. And South African's have already paid for this electricity with higher electricity prices, and therefore every other price increase in South Africa over the past 6 years! Everything we do depends on electricity. If electricity prices go up then so do water, transport, food, inflation; everything!

According to Eskom's Fact Sheet on Medupi published in 2010, the first 800 MW should have been online in June 2012, with units coming on stream at 8 month intervals. This means that 2,400 MW should already be on-stream and we should be half way at Medupi. 2.4 GW is about 6% of South Africa's current electricity capacity, therefore Medupi should grow SA's GDP by 6%. This equates to R210 billion; and assuming Kusile was also on target, with its first unit coming on stream at the end of 2013, we could assume the additional GDP would equate to R280 billion! Our economy needs to grow faster to create jobs. With 8.5 million employed people in South Africa this R280 billion of additional turnover might already equate to an additional 680,000 permanent jobs.

South Africa is growing slowly because our government cannot deliver on its electricity promises, and it has cleverly diverted the public's attention away from 400 Nkandlas, to one particular Nkandla. A modern economy relies on electricity to grow. If this money had been spent on people power, i.e. on decentralised renewable energy grids backed up with micro-hydro, localised battery and sewerage to gas systems, local coal power stations, local water supply and purification, about 2 million houses would already be being made into power stations thus freeing up this electricity to be used for industry, thus growing the economy even faster, with at least 35,000 people employed in the alternative energy system build, which would last at least another 20 years. So about 715,000 more people would already have jobs in this alternative scenario.

Why hasn't the public protector investigated this waste of public resources? And why isn't alternative people power really being investigated? We have 1 month till our democratic elections. Who can answer these questions? Which party truly stands with the people, with a decentralised people powered electricity system powering South Africa?

Yours faithfully,
David Lipschitz

We have the power

Dear all

Letter in 2 October 2014 Cape Times.


Dear Editor

Your editorials 
​"Global warning" and "Climate crunch" (September 30) 

In February 2009, I attended a keynote address at a 
nference in the US where the late Dr Hermann Scheer of the German 
vernment, and the father of Feed
Tariffs in Germany, said that no government has ever changed anything technologically, of its own accord: "Which technological revolution happened because of a global treaty? None."

He was referring to all the Conference of Parties (COP) annual conferences, global climate change talks, global inter-government climate related treaties, etc
. COP20 happens this year. How much has changed in 20 years?

People are marching all over the world demanding that governments change.

But there is a much easier way, which doesn't damage property, and which doesn't threaten society due to these mass demonstrations: 
​we c
onsumers must change our buying habits and only buy from organisations which are clean and "green", which care about the environment, which offer recycling services, which don't take shortcuts in their interaction with nature, which sustains us all, and which make their own clean electricity, or which buy green electricity.

And if there is nothing to buy, we consumers must just stop buying and make alternative arrangements
​ -​
 for example
 doing that age old thing of working with our neighbours and/or communities to make or grow what we need.

This simple change will dramatically change the way consumers interact with our suppliers; and the way that suppliers interact with us customers
​. A
nd when big business goes to government and says
e need this law changed to allow us to fit into this new way of thinking (paradigm)", then governments will change.

Yours faithfully,
David Lipschitz

Power and Jobs

Dear all

Letter in 23rd October 2014 Cape Times.


Dear Editor

​There is much talk of the Russians having been awarded a nuclear contract.

As long as the Russians build 
​power stations
 with 100
​ percent
 of their own labour and 100
​ percent​
 of their own materials
 and as long as they sell the electricity at 30c
kWh, which is what they've said it will cost
​ -​
 and as long as the Russians insure South Africans for any type of nuclear risks, and as long as the power stations are delivered on time
​ -​
 then I guess its ok.

Note that we have localisation at the Medupi 
​power station
, which is over 
 years behind schedule and 60
​ percent​
 over budget.

​The c
urrent cost around R130 billion
​, and
 8,000 locals have jobs building the power station, over 
. BUT if the station was up and running at close to full capacity as it would be by now, up to 2
5 million more South Africans would have jobs!

South Africans are fixated on the number of jobs in infrastructure construction, but have forgotten about the millions who depend on jobs because of that construction.

Yours faithfully,
David Lipschitz

Energy Solutions

Dear all

Letter in last 23rd October 2014 Cape Times.

They called it "Energy Solutions".


Dear Editor

In the wider international news (Car and Driver Online Magazine), we read the following:

"Today’s Tesla Electric Vehicle Model S batteries are manufactured in Japan before taking the long boat ride to California. Moving those processes to the USA eliminates logistics expenses and Tesla’s exposure to Japan’s electricity rates, which are roughly twice those of the United States.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, plans to drive his energy expenses even lower with an expansive solar array and wind turbines on-site."

I think that this particular paragraph is the most important for the South African government to notice

If it is cheaper to move production from Japan to the USA because of cheaper electricity, amongst other things, then it is becoming cheaper to move electricity guzzling operations out of South Africa, where our electricity prices are already higher than those in India, China and the US.

The fact that our government compares our electricity prices to those in Germany which are up to 3 times higher than here, is all very well, but Germans are prepared to pay those prices because the grid is free, everyone has access to it, and everyone can be a power station.

Germany has benefitted magnificently because of its setup, where overall electricity prices are actually falling now, and where its network is probably the most robust in the world. But our government want
 the price increases, without giving away grid access.

Delivery of power solution needed, but not at huge cost and long waiting period

Dear all

Letter in 6th November 2014 Cape times. They called it "Delivery of power solution needed, but not at huge cost and long waiting period."


Dear Editor

Andrew Kenny suggests that nuclear is the answer
​ ("The power facts", Cape Times Letters, November 4)​
. I agree that nuclear has helped us get where we are, and although it has been cheap in the past, there is absolutely no indication that once all external costs are included, it can still be seen to be cheap.

The main problems I have with nuclear are: 1) 
hat it takes 
 years to build nuclear power stations; 2) 
ur grandparents said that their children would know how to deal with nuclear waste and nuclear accidents; 3) 
very time we build a nuclear power station, it costs much more than the previous one; 4) 
 monsters are incredibly expensive, leading to massive corruption; 5) 
 the time
​ frames
 are long, we don't know if they are on time or late, hence even more corruption.

The real problem is that we need electricity NOW. Eskom
​, its
 their civil engineering contractors, and 
 other suppliers and staff have shown that they cannot deliver on two coal power stations on time, and they are massively overbudget, causing hardship to at least 2.5 million people who would have jobs now, if that electricity was available.

So why should the people trust Eskom and the government to build another 
 nuclear power stations
 each bigger than Koeberg, when we know they will be late, massively overbudget, and that they will not be able to start supplying much needed electricity in the next few weeks?

Not only that
 but Eskom 
 way behind on maintenance of existing power stations and transmission infrastructure, so if they can't build new power stations
 and if they can't maintain the existing system, then surely we need a new way of working, and thinking

With Embedded Generation, be it renewable, small scale coal or other power plants, we have the unique opportunity for the people to power the country for the first time in history. Image the Khayelitsha Power Station or the Milnerton Power Station
And imagine if these people could provide not only clean, green, sustainable, reliable, electricity, but also clean, green, sustainable, reliable, water at the same time

Imagine if Khayelitsha and Milnerton could remove their need for the grid from 6am to 10pm every single day and
 not only this
but provide electricity at peaking time? For the first time in history
 it is possible that by removing ourselves from the grid, we, the people, can give the utility and
 more importantly, the country the opportunity to provide the electricity it needs today, 
​and ​
not in 12 years time

ut Eskom and the Department of Public Enterprises and the Department of Energy just aren't interested in buying electricity from the small person, rather preferring to buy really expensive electricity from nuclear power station engineers and their colleagues, and to wait decades for this electricity to come on stream, thus putting the country at risk of all the ills of even more massive unemployment.

Yours faithfully,
David Lipschitz

Renewable Energy Examples Offered

Dear all

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


Dear Editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours faithfully,
David Lipschitz

Let us all benefit

Dear all

Letter in Wednesday 19th November 2014 Cape Times. They called it "Let us all benefit".


Dear Editor

John Walmsley's letter
​: "Please do the math" (Cape Times, November 18), refers.

Assuming 10 million houses with an average of 3 kW systems, we get 30 GW of 
 about 136
​ percent
 of the electricity available most of the time on our national grid today.

If we include all the other rooftops
 we get substantially more than this.

I believe that homeowners and SMMEs can eliminate the need for the national grid and/or supply the grid with electricity between 6am and 10pm and make use of the grid between 10pm and 6am, with many of the same incentives that Eskom give to their big users.
​ ​
In order to do this we need to be able to install systems before VAT and before tax. We need time of use tariffs, demand response and we need to be able to do net metering without a service fee. And we need to be able to purchase electric vehicles without the 100
​ percent
 import duty currently imposed. Most of these things are available to large scale electricity suppliers and users. Why not make them available to homeowners so that everyone can benefit?

Why is it ok for the electricity generators and their existing coal and nuclear suppliers to make massive profits
​ while
​can't make 
a profit from their actions? After all 30 GW of PV systems would cost about R600 billion without batteries and about R1 trillion with batteries, assuming one can use the grid to top up the batteries at off
peak time. And none of this would be for the taxpayer's account, with no need for public borrowing. Assuming a 20 year build, over 10,000 houses would have solar-electricity systems installed every single week, a dramatic improvement over the current situation.

The R1 trillion budget is still less than the current budget of R1.4 trillion for 
​nuclear energy 
and as per the Integrated Resource Plan, even when that Nuclear Energy is on stream, South Africa will still have load shedding at least until 2029!

And there is almost zero opportunity for corruption in these 10 million installations, which have a build time of about a week each and where one can see if they are over budget or over time in a week. A far cry from the corruption and incredible delays and budget overruns we have seen in the recent coal and nuclear power station build.

Yours faithfully,
David Lipschitz

South Africa near tipping point

Cape Times letter from me, yesterday, Monday 1st December 2014: They called it "Country less than three years away from tipping point as pleas fall on deaf ears."

Dear Editor

​Minister ​of Public Enterprises ​Lynne Brown says that we will have load shedding because the existing power station build is ​four​years behind schedule.

The Integrated Resource Plan says South Africa will be short of electricity until 2029. The government believes that less electricity is required than originally forecast because demand is falling. But demand is falling because people are leaving and setting up businesses elsewhere where electricity is more reliable and cheaper.​

​The government believes that the solution is to build another coal power station, to build another ​five​ Koeberg power stations, and to "frack" the Karoo. But ​all three of these solutions are at least 10 years away and if the existing two power stations are ​four​ years behind schedule​,​ and an equivalent amount of existing power stations to Medupi and Kusile reach "end of life" in the next 10 years, then who knows when they will be ready and if they'll actually help the South African economy and its people​?​

​In​ the meantime, because Medupi and Kusile are late, our existing power stations, cabling infrastructure, transformers aren't being ​sufficiently ​maintained and are falling apart.​ ​South Africa is in a crisis of epic proportions.

But the biggest crisis isn't the electricity crisis or the Eskom crisis.​ ​The biggest crisis is that government​ -​ ANC and DA ​- isn't listening to the people, ​but ​is​ centralising decision​-​making at such an alarming rate that soon ​officials won't even hear their people.

I've been trying for a long time to get the government to see that actually they won't lose any revenue by allowing Embedded (homeowner) Generation, but they just won't listen, and so month by month South Africa has less electricity and more unemployment. I've had meetings with the DA, ACDP, IFP and ANC, all the way up to advisors who advise the cabinet.

But we are getting to a point where everyone will be able to make their own electricity economically without Eskom​,​ and then there will be a ​tipping ​point. I believe this is less than ​three years away.

But it will be a huge pity, because people will make their own electricity and the excess which could have been sold to the grid will be wasted, and this could completely change South Africa.

​Yours faithfully,
David Lipschitz

Friday, October 17, 2014

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Who actually owns South Africa's power stations?


R1 Trillion.

Would you spend R1 trillion of your money on Nuclear power stations? This represents another R2,500 per tax payer per month, of after tax money, plus VAT!! Or from an electricity price increase point of view, this represents at least another 150% increase in our electricity prices.

And South Africa's electricity prices are already higher than India, China and even Texas electricity prices. Why should international companies invest in South Africa? Why should South African companies invest in South Africa when there is cheaper infrastructure cost outside South Africa?

Government wants to spend our money on an old fashioned fossilised fuel system, propping up out of date companies and technologies.

I believe that our money should be spent integrating ourselves in Localised Micro (Smart) Grids, which are part of the bigger system, and which are better for the environment, better for our pockets, more reliable, and which allow Eskom to supply electricity to its large and business customers.

Watch Carte Blanche on Sunday night. 21st September 2014. 10 GW of nuclear electricity, or 17.5 GW of removed electricity? @carteblanchetv #Nuclear4SA Alternatives are cheaper. For R1 Trillion we can remove the entire homeowner peak grid demand, 17.5GW, and only use Eskom at off peak times between 10pm and 6am.

Note that the world is moving away from centralised power stations due to storms which destroy power lines and infrastructure and due to potential terrorist threats and also because it is getting a lot cheaper to run a distributed grid rather than a centralised one.

Government and Eskom have proved that they cannot build to budget and that they cannot built on time. If the power stations they are currently building were 65% over budget, but were delivered on time, perhaps we would forgive them. But the power stations are 2 years behind schedule. And worse than this, the other corner of the cost, time, quality triangle, also isn't being met. Quality is lower than expected, with all sorts of quality problems and also the lack of Flu Gas Desulphurisation, a part of the EIA process, which is not being built. Hence the new "clean coal" will not be "clean", actually cleaner. Burning coal can never be clean.

So the Government and Eskom can't deliver on Cost, Quality or Time. How much better for 10 million homeowners to be allowed to spend R100,000 each on average, or R1 trillion on providing many micro-grids. R100,000 is easy to manage. It is a one week project. If it is over time, or over budget or under quality, one can see this in a week.

And if you are concerned that homeowners don't have R100,000 each to spend, then that is actually not a problem, as homeowners will just be spending whatever they are spending on electricity now. Its just that the homeowner will eventually own the power stations. And this is applicable in areas where there are taxpayers and areas where people don't pay tax or receive grants.

And the money and its use is under direct control of the people spending it, i.e. the electricity buyer or 20th Century consumer, who becomes a 21st Century prosumer, a person who manufacturers the stuff he or she needs.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


What is Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) and Shale Gas. Is it good or bad?

I did a presentation at a Conference on Sunday 24th August 2014.

I have loaded the presentation on SlideShare at http://www.slideshare.net/DavidLipschitz/hydraulic-fracturing-fracking-a-modern-and-biblical-view

Is Fracking good or bad? What do the pro and against people say? How can we get a balanced view? Does age old Biblical Wisdom apply? Does South Africa need to Frack? Are there other options?

This presentation refers to 7 videos and two other peoples' presentations in an attempt to get a balanced view of this energy industry.

A question to consider: if we pollute the planet, do we pollute our minds?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Crank up old machine for new tricks

My first ever Comment on the Insight page of a newspaper.

We are all very excited here in Milnerton. Thank you to everyone for your support and to the Cape Times for publishing my letters over the past 6 years since I started writing about electricity. I feel like I just got my degree in journalism after more than 6,000 hours invested and very many conferences, reports, newspaper articles, magazine articles, discussions, forums, debates, presentations to parliament, meetings with political leaders, my friends at the Milnerton Proper Residents Association and the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance, etc.

I'd especially like to thank my Facebook community friends for your ongoing support on this particular forum. Being an Active Citizen is often very lonely, but you guys and girls always show up with your "likes" and the many comments, critical sometimes, but always appreciated, and your ongoing support.

Thank you to everyone. You are always in my prayers.

Click on the picture above to read the article.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

20140812 - Letter in today's Cape Times

Just a reminder: Eskom's first 800 MW Medupi Power Station turbine (unit) was meant to go on stream in September 2012. And then we were expecting the other units to come on stream at 9 month intervals, so we should have at least 2,400 MW on stream by now, but we have nothing, and the latest news, from our new Minister of Public Works, Lynne Brown, is that the first 800 MW unit will be on stream in December 2014 and then the units will come on stream at 12 month intervals.

South Africans are being held to ransom by our government, Department of Energy, Eskom officials, and their consultants, advisors, contractors, staff, and foreign suppliers. They are impeding growth and contributing to South Africa's debt crisis, unemployment, exchange rate crisis, inflation, and the possibility that South Africa might be downgraded to Junk Bond Status. Foreign Investors cannot invest in "Junk Bonds" and will sell their South African debt (bonds) and possibly investments, potentially causing a massive crash in our stock market and possibly worse strikes and hardship. But the situation doesn't need to be like this. We can change it.

The situation must change.

South African citizens must take responsibility for themselves and not rely on government to help anymore regarding electricity provision, although government obviously still has a role to play.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Roof Top Net Metering compared with Centralised IPP's (Independent Power Producers)

Just a reminder that it is even cheaper to allow Net Metering on private roof tops as no government Capex is required and government only pays for the net electricity fed into the grid, and there are no transmission line losses, and local transformers and distribution equipment is used less so lasts longer and therefore has less maintenance costs; as against centralised IPPs transmitting Renewable Energy over long distances and requiring large Capex and not reducing equipment maintenance costs.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dramatic Slow Down in Solar Electric (Renewable Energy) Training in South Africa

How to dramatically slow down renewable energy in South Africa. Take a qualification which takes a month in the USA and make it 2.5 years in South Africa!!

These are my official comments:

"2.5 years to do something that can be done in one month in the USA.

"I agree that we need inspectors and perhaps this qualification is more suited to inspectors. However, there are many people who are already installing very competent systems in South Africa and some like mine, which meet the USA NEC Article 690 requirements as far as possible."


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Harmful Electricity?

This photo is from a sign in a 100 year old house, explaining to the occupants that electricity isn't harmful to your health and that candles, lamps and gas lamps aren't required anymore:

Read the small print at the bottom:

Re-scripted by me:

"The use of Renewable Energy for electricity is in no way harmful to health, nor does it affect the soundness of sleep."

As we know, "Edison Electricity" is extremely harmful to health. Just look at Coal mines, Acid Mine Drainage, Coal Ash accidents, Smog, Smog in Beijing, Nuclear radiation, gas explosions, etc.

I think that 100 years after this sign was fitted, we can finally take the small print at its real meaning. Electricity does not need to be harmful to one's health.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Peter Carruthers on Entrepreneurship

This is exactly how I feel on a daily basis, and how I know so many of my entrepreneur friends also feel and act.

"Every couple of days I sit down at the local version of Starbucks. I pull out my black notepad and fountain pen and try to interpret this small-business world you and I inhabit. I am struck, as I always am, by the infinitely rich range of stories behind each of the men and women like you who invest their lives forging their own way through the world. Each of us appears, from the outside, just like any other person, facing the same challenges with weight and health and parenthood. Each of us is so much more; An effervescence of insatiable dreams and pent-up fears that relentlessly drive our hours.

"Not one of us is simple. Most of us are trying to make sense of a world that has defined us in one way but yet seems constantly changing, just beyond our reach.

"Every night we go to bed and those fears loom large until morning when the sun seems to melt them away. And each morning we chase those dreams until evening, mostly without despair.

"If we are lucky we catch glimpses of success, cresting a wave before being dumped, but we hop right back on the board and we start paddling out again, hoping for another sighting, knowing that maybe, just maybe, today is that day.

"Every one of us is so much deeper, so much more complex than the seemingly calm person we are talking to right now. That's not a prospect sitting there. That is a miracle sitting there.

"Treat her with the respect she deserves for making it this far, and then - only if you can add value to her life - show her how to make that next step easier. Otherwise enjoy the coffee and the time together. Life is too short to do otherwise."

More about Peter Carruthers and Business Warriors here.

Gecko Rock Solar Electric PV Installation in September 2010

Gecko Rock 8 minute installation and learning video
(as at 19th February 2014, over 2,000 people have watched this video)
(I removed the video in June 2016, and put it back in December 2016)

Gecko Rock (Jonathan Deal) Interview 1 year later
(I removed the video in June 2016, and put it back in December 2016)

Videos filmed and edited by Antony Stone at Big Bang Stunts and Effects
The Team:

Designers: David Lipschitz and Peter Burden
Main Installer: Peter Burden
Metalwork: Designed and installed by Steven Mulder
Videos: Antony Stone

The Client:

Jonathan Deal at Gecko Rock

  • 1.6 kilowatt photovoltaic array with 24 Volt 675 Amp Hour battery bank and 1,200 watt inverter charger with generator backup
  • 8 kwh of battery backup
  • 8 kwh of average daily solar production from the photovoltaic array
  • Location: Gecko Rock, 25 km South South East of Touwsriver, Western Cape, South Africa
  • Solar Resource: approximately 5 average peak sun-hours
  • Photovoltaic Array Size: 1.62 kW (1,620 watts)
  • Nominal Voltage Batteries: 24 Volts
  • Nominal Voltage Array: 72 Volts
  • Array Voltage at Max Power: 108.6 Volts
  • Array DC Current at Max Power: 15 Amps
  • Battery Amp Hours: 675 Ah (amp hours) at 20-hour discharge rate. Multiplied by 24 Volts and allowing for a 50% maximum depth of discharge = 8.1 kWh in the batteries for overnight and overcast periods
  • Record Low Temperature: unknown; we have allowed for Minus 15 degrees Celsius (during day light (operating) hours)
  • Average Low Temperature: 2.2 degrees Celsius in July
  • Average High Temperature: 28.6 degrees Celsius in February
  • Average Daily Production: 8.1 kWh
  • Average Electricity Available after taking account of efficiencies (or inefficiencies): Allow 7% for inverter loss; 20% loss for battery charge/discharge from photovoltaic array; and 2% voltage drop on the cabling: 8.1 kwh * 0.93 & 0.8 * 0.98 = 5.9 kwh per day of usable electricity (daily average over the entire year)
PV System Components:
  • 9 Tenesol TE1700 at 24 Volt nominal: 180 Wp STC, 36.2 Vmp, 5 Imp, 44.4 Voc, 5.4 Isc (133.2 Volts open circuit for the array (at zero amps, i.e. first thing in the morning) and 16.2 Amps Short Circuit current for the array)
  • Array: 1 “string” of 3 “panels” with 3 “modules” in each panel. Total 9 Modules, 1,620 Watts total
  • Array installation: Dual-axis (manual) trackers designed by SolarSells, and enhanced, built and installed by Intricate Steel
  • Inverters: 1 x 24 Volt Victron 1200 Watt multi-plus Inverter/Charger allowing 24 Volt DC to 220 Volt AC conversion of electricity and allowing automatic synchronisation of a generator input into the system to supplement the batteries in the case of long cloudy periods
  • Solar Charge Controllers: 1 x 80 Amp Outback FM80 MPPT (maximum power point tracking) controller. The FM80 allows array sizes up to 2,000 Watts when charging at 24 Volts. The FM80 allows one to use a higher output voltage PV array with a lower voltage battery, such as charging a 24 VDC battery with a 72 VDC array. This reduces wire size (and cost) and power loss from the PV array to the battery/inverter location and maximises the performance of the PV system
  • Batteries: Deep Cycle: 12 x 6 Volt Trojan T105′s in 24 Volt nominal configuration, i.e. 3 banks (in parallel) of 4 batteries (in series) making 24 Volts nominal and 675 Amp Hours capacity. Each 6 volt battery weighs 28 kg making a total battery bank weight of 336 kg. We expect the batteries to last about 8 years with an average discharge of 20% and a maximum discharge of 50%. The batteries have a 2 year free replacement guarantee assuming they are looked after and “watered”, i.e. the battery de-ionised water is checked and filled as required. We can tell how the batteries have been used by looking at the information on the Victron Battery Status Monitor. The Trojan batteries are designed in the USA and assembled in Cape Town
  • Generator: 5 kw Honda
  • System performance metering: Victron Battery Status Monitor BM 600 for DC performance and battery monitoring; Efergy e2 Electricity Monitor for AC performance and historical AC kwh tracking
  • 2 Earth spikes and open earthing cabling allowing all metal work to be earthed. System and Equipment negative grounding. We have used USA NEC Article 690 rules as far as possible as there aren’t standards for PV systems in South Africa yet.
Subsequent to this original installation, Jonathan upgraded to 3 x 1.6 KW Victron Inverters giving 4.8 KW. He also upgraded his battery bank to 1125 AH at 24 Volts. Interestingly he discovered that he doesn't need to cook with gas anymore and that he can power his cooking with his microwave / convection oven. This provided an unexpected saving with the system.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Saving for a rainy day

Dear friends

We put money away for a rainy day.

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

We have pension plans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My Professional Speaking, Sharing, Energy Research, Coaching and Guidance

Need a Powerful, Electrifying and Energetic Speaker?

I think everyone knows I love learning and discussing, that I love meeting people, and that I love sharing.

Someone just asked me for some speaking topics.

Here is a list:

Happy to speak on:

  • "Learning to Sail": Jargon of the Energy Industry and the Energy Internet
  • Energy Motivation: Internal and External
  • My Power Station: what is it? Why is it the name of my company? where is your power station?
  • What information do business board level directors need to make energy decisions?
  • Net Metering
  • Feed In Tariffs
  • Homeowner Electricity
  • Homeowner Power Stations
  • The Road to a Private Utility in South Africa
  • Community (Virtual) Power Stations
  • Can private homeowners and SMME's solve South Africa's and Southern Africa's electricity crisis? If yes, how and why?
  • Energy: The complete picture
  • Why do we need electricity, anyway?
  • Sustainable Information Technology
  • Government Policy and Regulation and how it has effected the electricity industry
  • A history of electricity in South Africa
  • Do or Did Nuclear and Fracking have a role in our future?
  • etc

I can speak for 15 minutes or 3 days. You decide how long you need. You decide what format it should be; it can be a lecture or a discussion; I don't use that many PowerPoint slides anymore, but prefer to use "scrolls" (A2 posters).

I have spoken to school kids, junior and high school. I have spoken to university students, religious organisations, NGOs and NPOs (e.g. Rotary), on the radio, in movies, been interviewed by all sorts of people, spoken to parliament a number of times, spoken to Political Caucuses and Parliamentary and Government Leaders, and spoken at conferences on all sorts of topics, in Cape Town, Durban and Joburg. I have chaired conferences and I have provided input for what topics conferences should contain. And I have even had an essay I wrote appear in the conference program of a USA conference when I was there in 2009. And I have spoken on behalf of the South African Alternative Energy Association and written comments on Energy Documents on their behalf a number of times. So much so that they gave me a special award.

I can speak to Activists and I can speak to business Boards of Directors and I have had private meetings with CEO's of many companies who just want to have a talk with someone informed about electricity and its future.

People, who want to understand the energy and electricity picture, call me and ask me to explain to them how it works and where it fits in, usually specifically to their circumstances and what they need to know.

If you need me to talk to you, your friends, your NGO or your company, please give me a call.

S&T (Sharing and Trust),

PS: My mission is to catalyse Sharing and Trust amongst the people I come into contact this year. I believe this is the vital ingredient that is missing in South Africa. The next missing ingredient is electricity. But without sharing and trust, we won't have cheap, abundant and sustainable electricity.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Why homeowners and SMMEs must take responsibility for our own electricity generation

People have a misconception that power stations generate "base load" and that nuclear and coal and gas power stations are up 100% of the time and renewables are "intermittent." I hope to dispel these myths here and show how we can get started.

  • Base load is something large users need so that big power stations can be built, with low cost of electricity, but this isn't working anymore;
  • Worldwide big power stations supply intermittent electricity!! They are assumed to up only 85% of the time. Eskom admit that, even with their 90 years of experience, their power system is up under 80% of the time.
On a particular day in November, 2013, only 28 GW was available. 1/3rd of their capability was down.

I wish to propose:
  • We urgently look at alternatives. Smaller coal powered power stations that can service the needs of homeowners and SMME's should be built and paid for by the voters, and by unemployed people who want jobs, at less than half what Eskom are spending;
  • Renewable energy should be installed in private houses and SMME's as quickly as possible. We can make electricity for ourselves between 6am and 10pm at our own cost, but like the big guys we should be allowed to invest before VAT and before tax;
  • The big guys who need big power should plan and pay for it themselves. Taxpayers should not be on the hook for them anymore. It started with the gold mines in the early 20th century and it stops in the early 21st century. They have amassed more than enough wealth to pay for it themselves.

This country is being hampered because of lack of foresight, lack of planning, lack of electricity, very high petrol and electricity costs, and therefore transport and overheads, compared with the rest of the world.

At exactly the time we should be turning our raw materials into finished products, using South African skill, ingenuity, capital and labour, our leaders have sold our land to the highest bidder, undermining our exchange rate, lining their pockets at our expense, selling our raw materials so that foreign countries can turn them into finished goods, for us to import!

We are in the 21st Century. Our costs, financial, and especially, on our environment, which has been carefully crafted to sustain life, must be brought under control and must not go up anymore.

How will we achieve this? Who will take charge? The big political parties are all the same. They all want to frack. They all want nuclear. None of them care that South Africa is a water scarce country. All of them make promises they don't keep which costs investors dearly, and puts jobs as risk.

Are we voting for leaders, for their pockets, for their new cars, or do we want public servants, who have the greater good in mind?

South Africa can grow like China and many other countries grow, but it cannot do it with the current leadership..

I don't have the answers. I just know that South Africa only has 35% of its current electricity requirement, and in the 21st Century, water and electricity are two core things we need for human life.

What will we do? Fight each other? Or trust and share with each other to bring our costs down?

It is up to us.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

David Lipschitz Comments on the Integration Resource Plan (IRP) 2013 Update to the IRP 2010-2030 Plan

Dear Mr Madingoane

These comments must be in by 7th February 2014. Please see my comments below and also please confirm receipt of this email.

I have the following comments re the IRP 2010-2030 Update 2013:
  1. The extended Transmission network is estimated as being 2.5 times the size it is now. However there are no costings for this upgrade. What is it expected to cost, for each of the 3 scenarios in the IRP? Have agreements been made with landowners re way-leaves (land easements)? What is the environmental impact of these additional cables? What is the visual impact on our beautiful landscape? Who will own this new cable?
  2. The price increase graphs, e.g. on pages 21, 25, etc, show a rapidly increasing price till 2018 (8% per annum and 16% per annum) and then a lowering price till 2023. I believe that these price increases should be smoothed. There isn't any company in the world that can increase prices before service delivery happens, except for government which has done this with Electricity and Water price increases. Why hasn't this been considered? And what effect will this dramatic price increase over the next 5 years have on consumer behaviour and on investment in an already fragile economic recovery?
  3. South Africa's electricity price and petrol price are already higher than those in Texas and other parts of the world. For example on 14th January 2014, the price of petrol in South Africa was R13.20 vs R8.47 in Texas, a 56% difference. Homeowner and SMME electricity prices are already 50% higher in Cape Town as compared with Austin. Texas, known as the Oil State, has dramatically improved efficiencies by using all forms of energy generation. Why isn't South Africa considering all forms of energy generation?
  4. Why isn't the South African government and Department of Energy considering using Private People to fund the Energy Development in South Africa by allowing private Utilities, private Power Stations, etc, at no borrowing cost to the fiscus and with the possibility of massive and quick job creation?
  5. Demand: The IRP update says that the Energy Intensity of South Africa is decreasing and hence fewer power stations are required. It also talks about the path of "least regret" in decision making thus deferring power station build for as long as possible. However, there is no analysis of demand in the IRP. I have heard rumours that a South African smelter wants to spend R30 billion in South Africa expanding activities. As far as I know they use 1 GW today and need another 1 GW by 2016, but they are forecasting only 800 MW in 2016. Therefore instead of a 100% increase in electricity, they are forecasting a 20% drop. Not only is South Africa losing out on massive foreign investment in our country, we are also losing out on job creation opportunities by big business which is moving to countries with cheaper, more sustainable and more reliable electricity. Why is there no demand forecast in the IRP? Why haven't the IRP planners considered that perhaps the reason for the drop in Energy Intensity is because there isn't enough electricity already and because companies are already paying a premium to run their own backup power, mainly generators?
  6. In November 2014, Engineering News said that South Africa had 31.5 GW out of a potential 37 GW available, including peaking power stations. South Africa's grid has decreased from 42 GW 20 years ago to 37 GW today and a friend of mine said there was a particular day in November when there was only 28 GW available. How does the IRP help to rapidly create electricity in South Africa, bearing in mind that we need the electricity now, not in 8 to 12 years time? One should note that Table 16 of the IRP update says that there is 42 GW of Eskom generation and 3 GW of other generation and 2.5 GW of Demand Response (DR) Available. In late 2013, DR was made illegal by NERSA. We cannot rely on foreign capacity anymore, as it is being used more and more for local needs in foreign countries. And of the 42 GW of Eskom capacity, only 37 GW is available, due to power stations which are past "end of life" and which the engineers won't let run at capacity. For example, Koeberg's capacity is 1.8 GW, but my understanding is that it only runs at an available capacity of 1.4 GW which is considered to be safe. Why isn't Table 16 considering the real picture?
  7. Demand Response, a critical part of any Energy System, has now been outlawed by NERSA. Why has the DOE allowed NERSA to remove Demand Response from the South African energy system? Has NERSA considered the effect this is having on business? Why isn't demand response being done with homeowners, which would be at no cost to business?
  8. Nuclear: The IRP update says that the Nuclear decision will be delayed for several years, and specifically until after the new Integrated Energy Plan, last completely revised in 2003, is completed. Why, then, have the government just signed an agreement for Nuclear purchases with a Russian Supplier?
  9. Unemployment and Poverty is only mentioned for the first time on page 24 of the IRP plan. There is no consideration of the National Planning Commission's report that South Africa needs 11 million new jobs by 2030 and that the only way to do this is to consistently grow the economy by 5% or more per annum. Why has this been ignored? How can the IRP help South Africa to increase electricity provision quickly so that South Africa can increase its growth from 2% to 5% per annum?
  10. Why isn't the IRP considering the needs of South Africa in terms of its electricity, job creation, economic, and other potential?
  11. Why does the IRP focus on job creation inside the energy sector, rather than focussing on job creation because of the energy sector? This is the same problem I have with the Western Cape's Green Cape Initiative, which focusses on jobs inside the Green Economy, rather than focussing on jobs because of the green economy. The most jobs South Africa can create in the green economy is about 200,000 permanent jobs. In the meantime, 11 million other people have to remain unemployed until these 200,000 people are employed. Why does this make sense?
  12. The IRP says that even with "Big Gas" and with up to 63 GW of power generation from gas plants by 2029, South Africa will still experience peak demand problems! Why is South Africa intent on building more large scale power stations instead of piping gas to households thus getting rid of the peak demand problem for good?
  13. Why does the IRP consider "learning", i.e. price decreases in renewable energy, which have dropped 90% over the past 2 decades and not consider "learning" in nuclear and coal energy? When Koeberg build started in 1974, its cost was estimated at R500 million. Its final build cost was R1.75 billion, in 1978, and even taking inflation of R250 million into account, its cost was still 233% over budget. The latest Nuclear build has been costed at between R400 million and R1.4 trillion and in November 2013, the government said it will cost R1 trillion. Considering the lateness of Kusile and Medupi coal power stations, the inability to get the boiler welding right, software problems, moving materials around such big power stations, and other problems, why is it that 36 years after Koeberg, our Nuclear and Coal costs are still spiralling out of control, even with massive government subsidies and especially insurance and underwriting subsidies which aren't available to newer energies?
  14. Why are the nuclear power stations being built at the coast when most of the electricity is needed inland? And why is the government intent on building new transmission infrastructure at taxpayers expense when it isn't prepared to pay to connect the new Alternative Energy producers to the grid, at taxpayers expense, as happens in other parts of the world?
  15. Why does South Africa continue with its centralisation approach to energy when 21st Century technology clearly shows that a decentralised grid is cheaper and more efficient, to build and to maintain?
  16. Why does the IRP consider base load as being only available from coal, nuclear and gas, when we know that recently 1/3rd of the current grid's existing capacity is unavailable for various reasons? One could therefore argue that Nuclear, Coal and Gas are only available 66% of the time. As it is, Eskom's own statistics show that its "base load" power stations are available less than 80% of the time against a world norm of over 85%. What is the DOE's definition of "Base Load"? What isn't the DOE ensuring that Eskom keeps up its standards?
  17. Eskom was founded in 1923, when about 60 private electricity producers where combined into a single monopoly, in order to save costs. Eskom therefore has a 91 year head start with information gathering, costing, transmission and distribution, yet it still wants State protection and still wants its monopoly power at the expense of an economy which needs another 11 million permanent jobs by 2030. Why aren't the strategies and policies in the 1998 White Paper on Energy and the 2003 White Paper on Renewable Energy, which call for 30% of generation and transmission to be in private ownership by 2010, in place? Why does Eskom continue to need to be protected, even with its incredible resources, and its inherent and historical ability to provide the world's cheapest source of electricity?
  18. Why do the Energy Plans continue to use PJ (Petajoules) when the Active Citizens, Voters, and "the man in the street" understand kW, MW and GW? I believe that government's documents should reflect the common and modern usages rather than some ancient and archaic way of measuring things, that the general population don't understand.
  19. The IRP says that South Africa's CO2 emissions can be reduced by building new power stations in Botswana and other countries. Is this ethical?
  20. Why isn't regional integration looked at more closely? Electricity from the DRC's Inga project is considered, but that is still at least 10 years away and there will be huge transmission losses, perhaps as much as 50% of the electricity lost as heat over thousands of kilometres. Why isn't a strategy being considered that looks at massive renewable energy developments in Namibia, especially Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) with Storage, and with massive "batteries" in Lesotho, in the form of Pumped Storage, which is estimated at up to 7 GW of power?
  21. I have heard that the new transmission infrastructure from Kusile and Medupi haven't been built yet? Please confirm if this is true and if so how, then, once Kusile and Medupi come online, how will their electricity be dispatched?
  22. I have heard that the Coal Gas Flue Desulphurisation plants at Kusile and Medupi haven't been installed, yet these were critical components in their EIA's and the reason for building these new "clean coal"power stations. What is the DOE doing to correct and enforce these requirements?
  23. Has Kriel Power Station been closed at the end of 2013? Although it can continue generating, Eskom were meant to add Gas Flue Desulphurisation to it by the end of 2013 so that it could continue generating. Why is Eskom being allowed to simply ignore its environmental responsibilities, whilst holding South African electricity users to ransom? What are the government, the DOE, the Department of Public Works and other Government Departments doing to ensure Eskom compliance with Environmental Rules? How can government ethically enforce carbon emission taxes on vehicles, charge transport companies and aircraft companies levies for environmental protection, etc, yet not enforce similar behaviour on itself?
My colleagues and I have spent R30 million over the past 6 years getting an understanding of how these questions can be answered. If the government wish it, they can pay for our time and we will show our strategy to solve South Africa's electricity, job creation, sustainability, and other crises, quickly and cleanly.

I look forward to your replies and to continuing to help doing my Active Citizen part to help make South Africa great.

Yours sincerely,
David Lipschitz