NewEnergyNews: S. AFRICA, FACING SHORTS, TO TRY NEW ENERGY

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    Sunday, December 23, 2007

    S. AFRICA, FACING SHORTS, TO TRY NEW ENERGY

    Brian Dames, executive with South Africa’s state utility Eskom, faces the same dilemma other utility executives face but, perhaps, more urgently because his country has already begun experiencing power outages. His first concern? Emissions. Shouldn’t he be worrying about getting the lights on, damn the emissions? He doesn’t think so: "The big driver for us is the fact that we need to hedge our CO2. You cannot assume that we are going to be in a future where CO2 penalties will not come into play, so we now have to start responding to that."

    S. Africa looks to sun, wind to lighten blackouts
    Fran Blandy, December 16, 2007 (AFP via Yahoo News)

    WHO
    South Africa, Eskom (Brian Dames, company executive)

    WHAT
    South Africa has been experiencing electricity outages and state utility Eskom predicts they will continue for years.

    South Africa has top notch solar resources. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    - Eskom foresees the power shortage to last at least 7 years.
    - Wind and solar power are being planned.
    - Eskom will submit a proposal for a new nuclear plant in 2008. Environmental assessments, public outreach and nuclear licensing applkications have begun.

    WHERE
    - Eskom is planning a 100 megawatt wind farm on the Atlantic West Coast.
    - A solar generating pilot project planned in the remote Northern Cape.
    - South Africa has 1 nuclear facility at Koeberg, near Cape Town.

    WHY
    - Eskom contends solar and wind power can only ever meet a fraction of the nation's needs and they will require coal or nuclear facilities as back-up. He points out that the planned Atlantic coast 100 megawatt wind farm will only generate power 26% of the time.
    - The company has a planned solar energy installation and advocates solar water heating.
    - Environmentalists want more development of New Energy and cite a study showing South Africa has resources to obtain 13% to 20% of its electricity from New Energy by 2020 and 70% by 2050.
    - South Africa currently gets 88% of its energy generation from coal. Eskom wants to cut that to 70% over 2 decades.
    - South Africa presently gets 6% of its power from its nuclear facility. Eskom contends a 2nd nuclear facility is a better choice than more coal.

    Wind resources are good inland and enviable on the coasts. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - On New Energy -- Richard Worthington, spokesman, Earthlife Africa: "From an environmental perspective the use of fossil fuels and uranium is all bad news…The idea that we still using electricity to heat water when we have heat beating down on our houses ... it's just insane."
    - On New Energy -- Dames, Eskom: "Renewables are expensive, we all know that. We are a moderate wind country so we will exploit the wind because it's the one proven technology we have and certainly we would look at solar as well…Now you tell me, what do we do, in a developing country like us where we need to attract energy intensive business, if I say to you I will provide you electricity whenever the wind blows…We in South Africa need energy that is continuously available throughout the year."
    - On nuclear energy -- Maya Aberman, Earthlife Africa: "We are approaching the uranium peak. We are going to spend billions to build all the power stations that won't be fully operational within ten years. But in fifty years there will be no uranium left anyhow."
    - On nuclear energy – Dames, Eskom: "Certainly the uranium reserves in South Africa are more than adequate to sustain a significant amount of nuclear capacity in the country…"

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