Monday, 19 November 2012

Grow Green. Strikes, unemployment. Or electricity?

My 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 leveling 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?

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Follow the para-olympic example. Start Doing instead of complaining

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.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Exploiting South Africa's Energy Resources

The South African government has forgotten that South Africa's energy resources include the sun and the wind and water and other sources of renewable energy. Instead it concentrates its efforts on fossilised non-renewable fuels which harm the planet and doesn't give us the opportunity to make use of our vast solar, wind and ocean resources.

Now that Government has lifted the ban on fracking, perhaps it will level the playing fields and lift the ban on Net Metering and implement NRS 097 2 1 which allows Net Metering with Reverse Feed and Time of Use Tariffs without a service fee?

This will give the alternative energy supporters time to show that alternative and renewable energy are cheaper and more sustainable than gas in South Africa. And it will level the playing fields and give the small person in South Africa the chance to compete with the goliaths of this world, including our government and Shell.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Warning to renewable energy investors; opportunity for social entrepreneurs

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

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Understanding Renewable Energy Opportunities

Hi Peter

Thank you for the compliment. We appreciate it and it helps with our work. Are you a member of SAAEA?

The first thing people need to do is for us to change the way we think about our capital spend. Eg borrowing R100,000 may have a 20 year repayment period and thinking about it another way, you might be cash positive in year 8, due to the fact that your electricity price is constant, whereas without your system your electricity price would be increasing.

But another way to look at this, is that if you can spend the same amount of money per month producing your own electricity, as you are spending on electricity at the moment, then you are cash neutral in year one and in year two you are cash positive, making approximately R4000 profit in year two from become a power station supplying electricity to the grid.

If you are paying R1200 per month for electricity in the City of Cape Town, then if your rate is R1.50 per kWh, then you are using 800 kWh per month of electricity. This would require a 5.5 kW system which would cost R125,400. R125,400 at 10% over 20 years is R1200 per month, which means that you are paying the same amount for producing your own electricity as you would have paid the City of Cape Town.

Regarding your second question:

This is the standard response we get from the Utility, Eskom in our case. And sometimes from people who are against new technology and also from people who don't understand the renewable energy environment in its totality.

But there are a number of options:
1) The NERSA and SABS Net Metering (Embedded Energy) Standard allow for Time of Use Metering, eg where electricity at off peak time (10pm to 6am) could be anything from 1 cent to 75 cents per kWh; electricity at standard time (6am to 10pm) is R1.50 per kWh and electricity at peak time could be anything from R3 to R11 per kWh. I have calculated that it costs R11.50 per kWh for Eskom to run Ankerlig at full capacity. Ankerlig is a peaking power station that uses 25,000 litres of diesel per minute to produce 1,350 MW of electricity. This at peak demand. So if you knew that you were going to pay an exorbitant amount of money for using electricity at peak time, you would change your behaviour. Not only this, but you would look for ways to supply the grid with electricity at peak time so that you could make this money, eg by running a generator or using a battery bank. We also become much more energy efficient so that we only run microwaves and kettles at peak time and maybe our laptops and TVs. We don't use any heavy users at peak times, eg no pool pumps; no geyser electricity; no stove or hob cooking; no heating or air-conditioning, etc.
2) PV is not the only renewable energy technology. We can get about 1/3rd of our electricity requirement from the gas in sewerage. So during the off peak time we collect the gas and run GE Jenbacher gas-engines at peak time. ABSA have 4 of these gas-engines (generators) at the HQ in Joburg. Eskom are paying them to run them 24 hours a day using gas which is piped to Joburg from Mozambique.
3) With Solar Tower CSP (Concentrated Solar Technology), Spain is running plants at 16 hours of production per day. This easily covers the 6am to 10pm "Standard Time" periods. They have even run a plant for 24 hours per day!
4) Then there are wind turbines, micro-hydro, ocean currents, and many other forms of Renewable Energy one can utilize.
5) And then there is the best battery of all (at the moment), a dam, especially Pumped Storage. Lesotho has 7 GW of potential pumped storage capacity. It would be much better for South Africa to invest in building the Lesotho pumped storage project than in building nuclear and other fossil fuel power stations.

6) And there are still other options, for example Eskom pay rebates to large users who can remove electricity from the grid at short notice. Eskom are currently paying R300 million per month in these incentives, which are called DR or Demand Response. But the big users are complaining and withdrawing from the DR program, because they are losing market share because their factories aren't operating at full capacity. You might have read that South Africa's iron and steel and aluminium production is down 20% since last year. This is directly caused by a lack of electricity, although Eskom and the ANC and DA government would have you believe that the reason is because of a "recession." All that is happening by this lack of electricity is that we export more raw materials (note the huge additional investment happening in the railways and harbours at the moment) and we export jobs to China, Korea, Mexico, Germany, Australia, and the many other countries that are producing goods for South Africa and the over 40 other countries which don't have enough electricity. The country with the biggest crisis at the moment is Greece. The crisis is being blamed on a banking crisis, and yes, that is because the banks have invested in fossil fuel imports instead of making electricity from renewable sources. Greece's problem is a lack of electricity. This is impacting on all parts of its society.

I pray that this has given you a taste of the renewable and alternative energy spectrum and you will join the SAAEA in its quest to get Renewable Energy adopted in South Africa in the shortest possible time.

Feel free to ask more questions :)

Ke nako (the time is right for Renewable Energy),

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Mad Activists

To all my activist colleagues:

I humbly suggested that we activists are the stupidest people on the planet. Although we have the planet's well being at heart, we spend our hard one earnings and savings trying to help and most people just don't care, are myopic, are disinterested, apathetic, or worst of all, are simply in such a fossilised fuel mythology induced daze that they are simply dead people walking.

We put huge efforts into commenting on new laws; into commenting on newspaper articles; into being on the radio; into going to conferences free of charge; into giving; but what do we get out? And how much financial debt is worth all this exposure? And why do we allow ourselves to be used?

The government spends Billions on Consultants and then asks us activists to use our extensive knowledge to comment on what the consultants have said and written. We must be completely mad to do this for free. We are essentially doing the consultants work and filling in the blanks. Helping and giving without any sort of financial compensation. Yes, we feel good. We feel like we are helping. But we are putting a strain on our work and our families.

I believe now that we need to get together us activists, eg Muna, Marina, Jonathan, Mariette, Antony, myself, Ninette, and many others, and put ourselves into a team of people who trust each other and then offer our environmental services to people who wish to pay for these services.

So far I have spent R4 million of time and money on this venture over the past 5 years. I've had a lot of fun, spoken at many conferences in Cape Town, Joburg and Durban, including in parliament, and met political leaders and mayors. But I haven't made any new friends, amazingly. And getting to meet business leaders is proving impossible. I know not why, except I have a hunch that they want to be charged and we don't charge anything.

I look forward to working with you all on solving our planet's problems and at the same time earning enough to put food on the table without having to get further and further into debt.

Love and respect,

Sunday, 1 July 2012

What's really happening in South Africa? Why are we in a recession?

So what's really happening?

South Africa doesn't have enough electricity. Similar to Greece, Syria, Spain, some of the more than 40 countries worldwide whose energy imports either exceed their total exports or are more than 60% of their total exports.

South Africa doesn't have enough electricity.

Our capacity is around 35 GigaWatts, and was around 38 GW 20 years ago. Plus peaking power stations taking us to around 38 GW today. At 3.6% average electricity growth worldwide in the past 20 years, South Africa should be at 80 GW today and in 20 years time should be at 160 GW.

To "solve" the problem, the South African government has had to be very inventive. Especially whilst giving another 2 million people electricity since 1994. It has closed the textile industry, moving almost this entire industry to China. It has closed several smelters, hence the reason South Africa's iron and steel exports have plummeted. It blames our problems on China, but China adds 1 GW to its grid weekly and for the first time will install the biggest share of renewable energy worldwide this year.

The South African government needs to limit growth, otherwise the citizen (voter) will find out there is a problem. So the government does this with laws that limit growth or which limit the ability of small companies to employ people or which limit the second hand market from selling goods. Examples? The Consumer Protection Act which protects big business whilst preventing small business from doing business; The new Labour Legislation which has outlawed companies from employing casual staff thus preventing small companies from trying out people before giving them permanent employment. If a big company employs a person who doesn't work out, its not really a problem if the company already has 200 people. But when a small company with 2 people wants to employ a third person, its a massive investment. And in order to buy second hand goods at a market, a customer needs to show their ID book!! When last did you show your ID at Pick 'n Pay or Woolworths or Tafelberg?

Wanting to outlaw labour brokers who help people get jobs is another example.

And there are others.

All because South Africa doesn't have enough electricity.

And the way South Africa will solve this problem is to borrow R2,300,000,000,000 (R2.3 trillion) and the only way South Africa can repay this vaste amount of money is to give away the Karoo, ie allow it to be fracked; to prevent South Africa from having its very own car, the Joule, and in other ways.

But citizens can take back their rights by taking responsibility for themselves. And thus reduce their costs by up to 70% from 2012 prices. Its so simple, that people just can't see it, as they've bought into the Fossilized fuel energy Mythology.

Where to today? That is up to us!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Complain about price increase or Make money off them.

Eskom Tariff to Double by 2015. So what to do about it. Don't buy electricity from Eskom. Instead sell electricity to Eskom! We can make electricity on our roofs and sell it to Eskom.

Dear all. Instead of complaining, South Africa's favourite pastime, do something about it. Like NetMeteringSA and Mandelaton.

When we get to 1,000 likes we will start changing our world. When we get to 50,000 likes we will be Eskom's biggest customer! We will also be their biggest competitor.

And our prices NEVER, EVER, have to increase again.

It starts with us working together.
Still unsure. Watch: The Five Winners.

Please start by liking the two Facebook links as well as my video. It won't cost you anything to do this.

Ke nako (the time is right for the people to take responsibility for themselves and to NEVER have another electricity price hike).

Saturday, 16 June 2012

SAAEA Gold Membership and Green Merlin Award

David Lipschitz and My Power Station awarded SAAEA (South African Alternative Energy Association) Gold Membership and Green Merlin Award for services to Renewable Energy in South Africa.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

David Lipschitz - The Five Winners

We're at Grid Parity. Watch David Lipschitz of My Power Station discuss The Five Winners.

* The customer wins.
* The suppliers win.
* Eskom wins.
* The government and cities win.
* The environment wins.

With special thanks to Neil Webster and Adrian Charles of FixerFilm ( for this magnificent quality photography and editing.

"It starts with us working together."

Monday, 21 May 2012

Government has become big business and has lost its way

Government has become big business and has lost its way

Many governments of the world are reducing Feed In Tariffs (FITs) as fast as possible as they see their electricity revenue streams possibly diminishing, or maybe as they start running out of money. However, this is a myopic view and those countries that keep FITs going will reap the rewards as their economies grow and their tax base increases. Note that South Africa doesn't need FITs as we have already reached Grid Parity, i.e. the price where consumers can make electricity at the same price that we can buy it. Only two things are missing in South Africa: deregulation and Net Metering. With Net Metering, the consumer gets paid the same price for electricity we sell to the grid as for electricity we buy from the grid. With deregulation, protectionist laws are removed and the paying field is leveled.

The governments of the world are removing themselves from the mainstream 21st Century technologies on a daily basis.

The reason is simple: government has become big business.

Government used to be able to provide goods and services cheaper than the individual homeowner, but those days are over. Just as the railways had to adapt when cars arrived, and just as the shipping industry had to adapt when it moved from coal to oil 100 years ago (started by a UK government official named Winston Churchill when he was Lord of the Admiralty), so the governments of the world will have to adapt.

Winston Churchill was heavily opposed by the thousands of stevedores who moved the coal around in the bottom of the ships and on land - as, with oil, one flicked a switch or moved a lever and oil flowed - but Lord Churchill's vision was the huge growth that oil would enable - and now we need a leader with this vision to enable Renewable Energy (RE) growth - the main leader the world had died last year. His name was Dr Hermann Scheer and he introduced FITs in Germany in 1991.

The RE growth is the enabler for the economy. Electricity is not the economy. Just like labour and resources are not the economy. It is the putting together of the enabling "levers" where government should be playing a role in the modern economy.

Dr Scheer looked 25 years into the future and saw massive constraints in the coal and oil industries. These constraints would cause huge price increases, environmental destruction, water scarcity, and potentially the world's biggest war, and Dr Scheer knew that an incentive program was required to get industry and research and development institutions working towards an alternative. His vision has seen a 90% reduction in Solar Photovoltaic (PV) prices over the past 20 years. In the past 5 years in South Africa, prices have dropped 80% and at the same time our electricity prices have increased 150%.

If we carry on on our current path, we will run out of coal and oil by 2050, but the sun will continue shining for billions of years.

The abolition of slave trade in Britain in the early 1800's led to the establishment of the railway industry. Would governments rather that we have slavery? Actually the modern electrical system is a form of slavery where people pay exorbitant prices for their electricity. The same with water, rates, roads that are being tolled, etc.

The main thing in my eyes is that governments have forgotten their role.

Government's role should be an enabler to get business going, and thereby employment, education, medicine, etc, could be paid by the employee rather than by the overweight state.

Humans, as opposed to slaves, need cheap, reliable, environmentally friendly, resource provision, to enable the economy to grow cheaply, affordably and sustainably. Governments, as big business, can either fall over and cry and create self protectionist "laws" which will eventually lead to civil wars, and thereby be left behind, or they can fulfill their ancient mandate.

Ke nako,
David Lipschitz

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Why are we suffering? What can we do about it?

The real reason for sluggish growth in South Africa!!

What can we do about it?

Join/Like and show that you care and that you want a better environment, a more healthy lifestyle, that you want to save money, and that you want a better life for yourselves and your children.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Saving money on your electricity bill

More on what Net Metering is all about: Green Power Network: Net Metering

Also see Net Metering web site and Net Metering on FaceBook.

Please fill in our survey if you'd like to save money on electricity.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Make your own electricity cheaper than you can buy it survey

Make your own electricity cheaper than you can buy it survey

If you'd like to make your own electricity cheaper than you can buy it and prevent Fracking and Nuclear Energy, please fill in this Survey. 25 people have already replied. I'd like to get at least 1000 replies asap.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

The Green Capitalist Party, The Rondebosch Common and the Occupy Movement

I just posted this on Facebook in reply to a question about the Green Party's view on the Occupy Movement and Rondebosch Common, and thought I should repost it here.

"On January 27 2012, 42 members of a group called "Take back the Common", were arrested by the SAPS for holding an illegal gathering on or near the Common". See

The FB Green Party isn't the official Green Party. In fact, I started a FB page called The South African Green Capitalist Party and got so much flack that eventually I started this one. The good thing about the SAGCP party was that there was a huge amount of correspondence - And I have been considering going back to the original name. What do you think?

Note that there is an official South African Green Party which has been registered, but I have never been able to get hold of the people who run it.

See for how I feel capitalism should be defined and why I coined the term Green Capitalism. Also note that Capitalism as we know it is becoming more and more like Communism as we know it. In Communism a few people own everything.

I'm reading Richard Branson's new book "Screw Business As Usual" and he has also doesn't like what's happened to Capitalism, and he has invented a new name, Capitalism 24902; 24902 for the distance around the equator in Miles!

The Green Party doesn't have an official position on the Occupy movement, save that I personally support what they are doing.

As for the Rondebosch Common, it was proclaimed a National Monument in 1961 and the Common was originally much bigger. It included The Red Cross Children's Hospital, for example. As a monument, it is given in perpetuity for the use of the Citizens of our beautiful city and country. I agree that it is underutilised, but it is one of the few Green Lungs left in a town with sprawling overdevelopment and no thoughts for parks. Think London other great cities with their amazing parks and public spaces all over the city. The Common could have a running track and a cycling track, toilets, and small stall type shops around the outside supporting local indigenous industry where the wealth remains in Cape Town. Any organisation which sends profits overseas will not be allowed to use the common under this scenario.

PS: I visited the occupy London site outside St Paul's Cathedral when I was in London in November. Photos on my David Lipschitz Facebook page.