Saturday, 23 November 2013

Nuclear or Coal Power or The Roof Top Owner Utility?


My name is David Lipschitz. I am a software developer and a researcher, researching Energy in its widest possible sense, but narrowed to Energy used by the people of South Africa, Namibia and Lesotho. I bring you Powerful Energy Knowledge based on my knowledge, based on Software, Energy and Power.


This article represents a Balance Sheet, taken on 23rd November 2013, of my knowledge and making recommendations as to how I see rapid sustainable employment in Southern Africa and the world.

The main points in this article are:
  • Scaleability, e.g. building a 3 KW (3,000 Watt; 3 KiloWatt) house (roof top) power station and scaling it to 30 GW, (30,000,000,000 Watt; 30 GigaWatt); 10 million houses * 3 kW = 30 GW.
  • "Localisation", i.e. in the narrow definition of "Jobs in Clean Energy" OR the wider definition of "Jobs in the General Economy because of Jobs (Investment) in Clean Energy"? 11 million people need to be employed in South Africa in the next 20 years. Clean, Sustainable, Green Energy, together with enabling legislation, will rapidly provide the electricity South Africa needs to grow rapidly and create jobs in order to locally beneficiate our mineral resources, using local labour and local capital. Beneficiation is about turning raw materials into finished goods.
  • Electricity: According to Eliyahu Goldratt in his book, The Goal, when one has a bottleneck throttling production (e.g. lack of jobs), one needs to look for the needle in the haystack, causing the bottleneck, and solve that particular problem. Once that is done, one deals with the next problem. David Murrin, in his book, Breaking the Code of History, solves this problem for us. He says a country needs: Labour (and Capital), Resources (Raw Materials, Minerals and Food; or Access to Resources), and Electricity. Southern Africa has an abundance of the first two, and a lack of Electricity. So how can we fix electricity supply so that we can create sustainable employment? And how do we do this rapidly, sustainably, using current technology and inexpensively for ourselves and our home, planet earth?

Here is the body of my presentation, as presented to the Powering Africa Summit in Cape Town, on 27th November 2013:

To my dear fellow Capetonians, South Africans, Africans, People of the World, and anyone else listening

Imagine a Power Utility owned by Roof Top Owners. Homeowners, Business Owners, anyone with a roof.

Power Sharing and many of the world's greatest political thinkers, philosophers, and economists dreams and writings, so badly implemented for so long, would finally be a reality.

And it is finally possible in the Global Information Age in a 21st Century World. Where everyone acts in their own and their neighbours interests, using our African Ubuntu philosophy, something the imperialist conquerors from the North, have been suppressing for way too long.

Photovoltaic (PV) Systems, making electricity from the sun, are dependent on the Computer Information Technology (IT) industry. It's all electronic. And as everyone knows everything gets more sophisticated and cheaper in the IT industry. Anyone with a smart phone who grew up in the 1960's and 1970's with mainframe computers can tell you that a smart phone can do more than the world's biggest mainframes could do back then. And in colour. And with the ability to communicate with anyone anywhere in the world - for free!

According to Voice of Russia, Formal Agreements were signed on Monday 25th November 2013, to begin the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process to get more Nuclear into South Africa. This will give us 9.6 GW of nuclear power, because by the time these new plants are opened, the existing Koeberg Plant will need to be closed. Read more:

So two ministers representing the South African and Russian Governments and Peoples will sign an agreement that will effect 100,000,000 people for the next 50 years. And it will cost at least R1 trillion. And if there is a nuclear accident, then it could effect 7 billion Earth dwellers for hundreds of years.

And no insurance company in the world insures for nuclear risks for homeowners. Read the small print on your homeowner insurance policies!

With R1,000,000,000,000 (R1 trillion), roof top owners could make 5,000,000 (5 million) Tax Payers houses and Tax Payers Businesses into power stations, as part of a Co-operative Utility that they could own. Effective energy generated and removed from the grid is 15 GW!! And this is at the point of consumption.

It's even easy to think about this number because its really only R200,000 five million times5,000,000 * R200,000 = R1,000,000,000,000.

9.6 GW from nuclear will equate to around 7.5 GW at the point of use. So with Active Citizens being involved in creating power stations, as part of a utility they own they will get twice as much energy (15 GW) for the same cost! And each nuclear power station will cost R100,000,000,000. Imagine the opportunity for cleptocracy, fraud and corruption especially with knowing how far the build is with something that takes 10 years to build! This is one of the many problems at Kusile and Medupi Coal Fired Power Stations. No one knows exactly how far they are, what problems will still come up, when they will be finished, and what their final cost will be.

No corruption is possible with a R200,000 build which only takes one week!

A few more points for a Utility Owned by Roof Top Owners:

1) Borrowing & Finance

No government borrowing is required. Each roof top owner can either buy a system using their own money or they can lease the equipment.

I have spoken to many bankers from all over the world and there is no shortage of money.

There is only a shortage of willingness to do the projects, and prevention of doing them by government, a big business, which puts rules, called laws, in place, to prevent private roof top owners from creating their own power stations.

The government also puts rebates in place which seem to make projects more attractive, but then government keeps changing the rules of the rebates, the amounts of the rebates and sometimes, like this week, the South African government removed the Standard Offer and Standard Product rebates altogether. Last time they did this, some "localised" factories went out of business. The late, Dr Hermann Scheer, who was instrumental in getting Feed In Tariffs into Germany in 1991, in his book, The Solar Economy, reinforces my view.

People doing projects must ensure that their projects are viable without the rebates. If they get a rebate, its a bonus.

2) At least 665 million products required

If this work is done with 5,000,000 houses, the following additional benefits are received:
  • 5,000,000 special electricity meters, locally made by someone in Cape Town, not imported!
  • 5,000,000 inverters. We have inverters that have been invented in South Africa.
  • 5,000,000 charge controllers
  • 5,000,000 combiner boxes
  • 75,000,000 solar panels
  • 20,000,000 batteries. South Africa has an expert battery manufacturing capability because of its car manufacturing indutry.
  • 50,000,000 DC fuses plus other DC related pieces of equipment. The world's biggest Circuit Breaker Company is owned by South Africans.
  • 500,000,000 metres of cabling, from South African companies which make this cable.
All these have to be manufactured, a lot of them by South African companies owned by South Africans.

Oh, and this assumes we don't use Energy Efficiency, called NegaWatts (Negative Watts), by Thomas Friedman, in his book, Hot, Flat and Crowded. If we include energy efficient fridges, pool pumps, pool covers, curtains, insulation, air conditioning, heat pumps or solar water heaters, laptop computers instead of desktop computers, etc, we can add many more millions of these products to the equation and save up to half of the required consumption, so we can actually produce an effective 30 GW of energy, so 10,000,000 Houses will be removed from the grid, for the same price as South Africa's nuclear build, which will give us 7.5 GW at the point of consumption. Not only houses need to be involved, but anyone with a roof.

3) Installers and Employment

100,000 years of labour is required if 3 installers take one week to install each house.

If we want this in 20 years, then we need 15,000 installers (permanent jobs because we won't stop after 20 years). South Africa is currently short of 40 GW. 20 GW will reach end of life in the next 20 years.  And in 20 years South Africa will need 160 GWso people who want jobs in South Africa need 100 GW to be built in the next 20 years.

And we could do most of the work with local labour who will need a maximum of 4 months training, and in some cases as little as 1 week. With nuclear we need nuclear engineers. We need concrete. We need uranium. And, according to Amory Lovins, there aren't that many nuclear engineers anymore. And there a far fewer universities world wide producing nuclear engineers than there were 30 years ago! So a nuclear engineer shortage will also push our prices up and our quality down!

4) The Supply Chain

Besides installers we need inspectors, a new local supply chain, etc.

5) Employment

Massive employment will happen because of the surge in supply of local electricity.

This will be good as another 11,000,000 people need to be employed in the next 20 years, according to the National Planning Commission (NPC) report, produced by Trevor Manuel and his colleagues.

6) Localisation

Localisation is a serious problem, especially if the industry is not already in the country. There is already a foreign owned PV company which has asked for import tariffs to be put on PV panels. This means that this foreign owned company can create a local factory and then charge us higher prices whilst the profits are exported back to their own country.

Yes, there should be localisation, but to support existing industries. And we need electricity as fast as possible. If the local industries can only supply 5% of what we need this year, we'll get the other 95% from overseas. Next year, we'll have 7.5% local, due to natural growth. Within 20 to 30 years we will automatically have 100% localisation.

7) Crime

There will be a reduction in crime.

8) Taxation

There will be a massive increase in taxation from newly employed people and from profits being incurred because of new industries and new jobs sprouting up. Business wants to go where there is reliable, quality, cheap, electricity. If we build, they will come, and in many cases, South African companies which have been investing overseas, because of the shortage of electricity here, will start investing in South Africa.

9) Infrastructure, Education, Salary Backlog

Every single year, South Africa will be able to catch up on its current outstanding backlog of school build, school teacher salaries and outstanding health bills and health costs! eTolls will not be required because of the surge in employment causing government to pay fewer grants and the surge in taxation because of more people being employed. The only losers will be the investors in eTolls, and they can always take their equipment elsewhere. Many investors, including myself, have lost millions because of implementing solutions before government implemented new laws. This is a fact of life. Government should not be paying the eToll investors court costs to get eTolls working in South Africa!

10) Active Citizens

Active Citizens, who take a non-apathetic, active role in society and fulfil their role as citizens, will sprout up everywhere. South Africa will not only be the most beautiful country to live in naturally, but also economically, and mentally.

11) Storage / Batteries

I've mentioned batteries in the product section. But what do I mean? What will be powered?

I don't mean everything in a house will run off a battery. In my house, in the event of a power failure, I can run my computers, lights, TV, fridge, garage doors, and even boil the kettle, from my battery bank, for up to 8 hours.

And in fact, every night, I run this equipment on my battery bank and if at 2am in the morning my battery bank is flat, I can use Eskom to charge it, using very cheap electricity during "off peak time". And at "peak time", I could sell electricity from my battery bank, thus making money and saving Eskom money when they run their peaking power stations at R15 per kWh.

And if the government dropped the huge tax on importing Electric Vehicles (EV's), I could afford to buy an EV and park it in my garage, adding to my battery capacity. These mobile battery banks are great. They can buy and sell electricity from and to the grid under the owner's control. This means that you could park your car in a shopping centre at 4pm, and buy cheap electricity. At 6pm, when the shopping centre would normally have to buy expensive electricity from Eskom, they could rather buy it from you, the EV owner. The EV owner wins every time he or she parks his or her car at a Shopping Centre or at their place of work. And why not at their home as well?

There are also possibilities for other types of batteries, eg hydrogen powered, compressed air, bio-digestors using the methane from our sewerage, and micro-hydro pumped storage systems for people who have farms in mountainous areas. Note that the hydrogen would be produced when there is an excess of energy in a grid that contains renewable energy. Although the cost of making hydrogen from "base load" electricity is very high, the cost of making hydrogen from "renewable" energy is close to zero.

12) "Base Load"

We taxpayers and voters keep getting told by Government and others that building small power stations at one's home or business doesn't create base-load power that big users like smelters, car factors, and shopping centres, need. Although this might be true, if homeowners make their own electricity and if they export the balance 24 hours per day, then firstly their need is removed from the grid, and secondly, they can supply the grid. So existing power stations can be used to supply big business. Eskom and the ANC and the DA should be happy with this, after all business is a much better payer and buys much more electricity than homeowners and small and medium sized business owners!


Doing this project this way means that roof top owners never need to have another electricity price increase again. Ever. Can our government and Eskom give us this guarantee?

Our government should be representing our interests, but if they were, then they would be telling us about this huge money saving and job creation possibility. Eskom, on the other hand, is a monopoly, and I can understand their behaviour.

We live on an abundant planet that can more than provide for all its citizens. It is time to take back our power by producing the power and energy that our country and continent and earth and its beautiful countryside and human beings and fauna and flora, and every other beast that lives on this planet need, naturally and sustainably.


I'd like to end with the words of a South African Saint, Nelson Mandela:
"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."
This is how I choose to live my life. I pray that you will also choose to live your lives in this way.

Yours faithfully,
Your servant,
David Lipschitz
Milnerton, Cape Town, South Africa
23rd November 2013; Last updated 29th November 2013.