Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Repair Your World: Solving the electricity crisis at no tax cost to the treasury

My latest letter to the Cape Times editor.

Melanie Gosling's articles this week and NERSA today (24th February 2010) approving 25% increases (95% over 3 years) refer.

My company has a number of clients who wish to provide their own energy. We don't believe that we can rely on Eskom energy. It isn't sustainable. It isn't clean. Not only is coal polluting the air, mining it is polluting our water resources and destroying our roads. If we weren't in a recession Eskom energy wouldn't be enough for our requirements, so there is no true security of supply, especially as Eskom has not got the increase they wanted. Lastly, in the medium to long term, Eskom's energy is not affordable for our clients and there are already affordable alternatives.

However, most of the clients we consult to are too small to fit into the 1 Megawatt bracket which gets the feed in tariff (REFIT). And the REFIT itself is a farce because the government has implemented a tender system which is the opposite of a REFIT system. The tender system has failed in the UK.

Our solution. We need a "grid connection agreement" where we can install systems which connect to the grid and allow us to feed excess electricity to the grid on a "net metering" basis. This means that if we pay 88 cents per kilowatt hour (kwh), then if we generate excess energy, we get paid 88 cents per kwh. It is unlikely that we will be in credit on an annual basis especially in the early stages of implementation. And this system doesn't require long term power purchase agreements.

However, we understand that the City of Cape Town doesn't want net metering because they believe they will lose electricity revenue. This even though the City has ambitious 10% energy targets by 2020. It has taken Germany 20 years to get to 15%. How are we going to get to 10% by 2020 if we haven't even got a grid connection agreement yet, i.e. we don't have a legal way to connect private electricity supply to the grid? The City of Cape Town says that they don't want "reverse feed" into their grid, but this is a red herring and a way to slow down a process which already works in Germany.

We challenge the City of Cape Town and the Premier of the Western Cape to allow this to happen by the end of April 2010! This is not too short a time considering what Marian Nieuwoudt, the Mayoral Committee Member for the Environment in the City said in the city's Energy and Climate Change Strategy in 2005! All the legislation already exists. If the government continues to allow 25%+ annual electricity increase, its citizens must be allowed to chose from where they get their electricity.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Fwd: Repair Your World: Tai Chi Newsletter

Renewable Energy
By David Lipschitz, 28th January 2010

The industrial revolution brought many changes. The discovery of oil; the steam engine; the ability to find large quantities of previously untouchable commodities including coal, oil, fish, forests, and other mined and natural products.

Although these changes brought about wealth, equality, and democracy, they brought about an associated search for the fastest way to make money and this is at the expense of our one and only home, our planet.

Part of the problem is that we haven’t looked deeply at our energy system to find ways that we can have the energy without the associated destruction. I get so irritated when we have all this energy outside. Sun, wind, rivers, tides, ocean currents. If only South Africa would use them!

Tai Chi teaches that we need to live in harmony with nature by developing our own mental and spiritual harmony. I love Tai Chi because it allows me to meditate during the class. Just to be myself. To bask in the knowledge that I have a contribution to make. And to share in the beauty of our planet.

The sun’s energy can be used directly to heat, cool, and cook. The sun’s energy together with wind and other sources of energy can be used to make electricity.

As Solar Water heating is high on the agenda, here are some of the terms you might consider: flat panel or evacuated tube; thermosyphon or pumped; pumped using a photovoltaic panel or electricity; direct or indirect systems; mountings and connections to your existing system; replacing your geyser or keeping it (retrofit); the Eskom rebate; approved installers; electrical backup; remote temperature control; costs and efficiencies. Different systems work better in different situations. Email me for details on how to choose a solar geyser.

Make a difference right now: halve your meat intake. Vegetables are a raw source of energy and nutrients, not processed by animals into meat. Production of meat and coal mining are the biggest contributors to environmental destruction. Install insulation in your roof. Use much less air-conditioning and heating. Look for low wattage appliances so that fewer power stations are needed. Install a solar geyser. Demand that government spends our money on energy efficiency and renewables rather than more fossil fueled power stations.

My company, Orbital RE, specializes in helping organizations survive the energy crisis. Contact me on