GREEN EDGE: Shortsighted Industrial Expansion set to push up Electricity Tariffs.


SOUTH AFRICA’S myopic development policies are creating increased demand for electricity and the quick fix solution contemplated by Eskom might do more harm than good. Already faced with the predicament of providing cheap electricity for new industrial projects such as the proposed Coega Aluminium Smelter, the national energy provider is contemplating several new energy projects, none of which fulfil the millennium goals for sustainable development as laid out at the Earth Summit.

Instead of reducing demand in an energy intensive economy, South Africans could see sky-rocketing fuel prices and increased electricity tariffs as the move from dirty coal to cleaner gas turbines merely shifts the problem of sustainable energy consumption. Already, two new gas-turbine power stations are planned for Mossel Bay and the Western Cape. Alternatives such as the pebble-bed nuclear reactor are considered too costly in terms of long-term sustainablity, with the price of nuclear power escalating over the course of production when factors such as decommissioning and disposal of spent nuclear fuel are taken into account.

Other solutions exist in the form of renewable resources such as wind energy, wave energy, energy from the sun and the earth’s very own ambient radiation that periodically surfaces in the form of volcanic activity. Environmentally-safe Wind Farms, Wave Platforms, Solar Arrays and Geothermal Projects promised at the Earth Summit are still “just promises”. With consumers footing the bill for new development, answers such as a vague proposal for one pilot Wind Farm near Malmsbury “sometime in the future” and absolutely no progress in the emerging market for Wave, Geothermal and Solar, would seem “too little, too late”, as far as environmentalists are concerned.

What would it take to develop a sustainable Geothermal energy programme? Technology such as the ability to harness the massive forces encountered underground by the mining industry exists, but has never been tested locally. Until Eskom starts addressing the issue of long-term sustainablity seriously, this country will continue to be faced with a crisis in which consumers are asked to cough-up, merely in order to supply big business with cheap power, in a development game whose real cost is measured in the form of indirect taxation and other kickbacks to industry.

In fact BHP Billiton which has aluminium smelters in South Africa and Mocambique has already acknowledged there is a problem with power supply. Aluminium smelting like other energy intensive industries, uses a vast amount of power and the entire industry is considered economically unsustainable unless a cheap source of renewable energy can be found. Instead of spending billions of rands of tax-payers money on white elephants such as the Pebble-bed modular reactor, Eskom could have solved the problem by simply committing itself to next generation sustainable energy, spending more on renewable resources and less on non-renewables such as liquified gas and coal.

— THE GREEN EDGE PO BOX 4398, CAPE TOWN 8000

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4 comments

  1. whitey

    With this said. Why are we expanding into problematic areas where we had a broad customer base with low resource utilization? The complications of such a development are far surpassing the cons of beach driving.

    The devastating effects of the development of infrastructure to support a rapid growing Coastal development for the rich far surpasses the negative effect of beach driving. Low impact domestic tourist does not need the high infra structure to support them.

    Less Electricity, Less Fossil Fuels to generate this electricity, less Fuel to build roads, Less Water to sustain five star development, less sewerage removal. The list does not stop.

    Controlled beach access has been put at 0-5 % of environmental impact. Flying 5 million Eco Tourist to South Africa and back generates million tons of green house gasses.

    Thanks for the help David. I really needed it.

  2. davidrobertlewis

    I don’t follow your logic or illogic at all, what are getting at? Were you smoking something green and forgot to mention public transport is greener than private vehicles kicking up sand on beaches?

  3. whitey

    We cannot get away from the fact that there are greener USERS Groups in our environment than others. No I am not smoking any thing green (not currently), I am purely referring to the fact that people are chasing the wrong market if one thinks that Eco Tourist are greener Tourist than controlled beach driving.

    I am Anthony Whiteman and The Truth Will Prevail

  4. whitey

    Fewer Fossils
    Fewer Green House Gas All round.
    Let me relief all cynics from their misery. Where is the 225 000 bed nights that St. Lucia has build its economy on? Why are we driving on Sodwana Beach all among the Children playing? Well I know, because we love to abuse our wealth. It is not good enough that people are making money at grass root level. We now have to go for the big guns, the heavy loaders, the people with cash. Hell how are we going to live of a mere 600 bed hotel. These guest will never stoop to our level and deal with the traders next to the road. How can you not see that the 120 vehicles on St. Lucia beach (47 ha) excluding vehicle free areas does not support the grass roots.

    I am Anthony Whiteman and The Truth Will Prevail

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