Image hosted by

Monday, March 17, 2008

Editorial on SA Energy News

March Editorial on SA Energy News

Two issues of SENSE (#47) ago, SENSE warned about the coming global shortage of petroleum. Those who still don’t believe have yet to fill up their gas-guzzling four by fours; bigger shocks ahead folks, like the possibility of petrol going to R10 a litre in the near future.

The peak of oil production is not alone; the coal price is going through the roof with the price of thermal coal tripling in the last year, while the price of coking coal doubling over the same period. This has prompted Eskom to call for another round of tariff increases.

The collective belt tightening that Eskom management calls for does not extend to their own corporate bonuses; maybe the top execs need the extra millions to pay for the increased power costs of running their mansions, swimming pools and ten-metre plasma TV screens.

Which brings us to the Eskom approach to domestic tariffs in general; a.k.a. the sledgehammer approach. Eskom raises tariff prices with barely a nod of the head to South African’s social and economic conditions. Fifty percent of the population lives in poverty, and can hardly meet their nutritional requirements, let alone the municipal electricity bill. Without employing the insanely revolutionary, utterly insurrectionary and wickedly irresponsible tactics of an increased free basic allocation and a step-block tariff, Eskom’s tariff increases will squash any hopes of eradicating poverty this side of the new millennium.

Turning to one of the SECCP’s favourite topics—the proposed Alcan smelter at Coega—it seems that it is only Cabinet and Alcan that are in favour of the actual smelter and its fantastic consumption of electricity at low, low rates. Veteran energy analyst Andrew Kenny stated recently that, "SA's number one thing for investment was cheap power. We have lost that. The Coega smelter must be scrapped."

On the nuclear side of things, Patrick Moore has been in South Africa touting his Greenpeace credentials (he says he’s a founder) and punting the joys of reactors, cost overruns, nuclear proliferation worries, and the long-term health benefits of nuclear waste. Here’s what Greenpeace has to say about its self-declared founding fathers:

“Patrick Moore was one of the people involved in sailing the ship 'Phyllis Cormack' to Amchitka to protest planned US nuclear weapons nuclear tests in 1971. However, his claim to be a Greenpeace co-founder is untrue. The initiative against those nuclear tests began in 1969, and only two years later did Moore send a letter in which he introduced himself as a student and asked if he could join.

“Since leaving Greenpeace in 1985, Moore has been a paid propagandist for a number of polluting industries, including: defending clear-cut logging of forests in British Columbia, downplaying deforestation in Amazonia, supporting controversial mining projects, and promoting genetic engineering. On some occasions he has even been in the Climate Sceptic camp.”

The good news is that scientists at the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies might have found a way to generate 10,000MW of electricity from wave power alone.

We have alternatives to fossil fuels.

Tristen Taylor
Energy Policy Officer
Earthlife Africa Jhb

Read the entire newsletter here.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home