Tag Archive | clean energy

New biotechnology strategy on the way

Biotechnology and aspects of economy….

A new South African biotechnology strategy, with a focus on the economy and how biotechnology could be used to create a positive socio-economic impact would soon be launched, department of science and technology (DST) has said.

This has now been cleared by cabinet but very little is known on the actual document being prepared by DST other than it will focus on co-ordination between the various government departments dealing with biomass, bio technology, energy and the environment.

Creating jobs

On the subject of creating biofuels and biomass, the department of energy has told parliamentarians that the main objective of any such exercise, if it was undertaken in the agriculture industry, would be to create jobs.       However, such a move towards the use of biomass would not take place if national food or water security was jeapordised in any way.

This answer was given to the portfolio committee on energy by Muzi Mkhize, chief director hydrocarbons, department of energy (DOE), when briefing parliamentarians on DOE’s current strategy towards biofuels.  He said that in the South African context, a specific requirement of the biofuels strategy was to create a link between first and second economies and the focus was not only on jobs but specifically on creating employment in under-developed areas.

No document on the subject at this stage has reached Parliament.

Earlier articles on this subject:
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/doe-talks-biofuels-and-biomass/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/biofuels-development-stays-in-limbo/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/energy-resources-doing-it-better-and-quickly/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/doe-talks-biofuels-and-biomass/

Posted in Enviro,Water, Facebook and Twitter, Fuel,oil,renewables, Land,Agriculture, LinkedIn, Special Recent Posts, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Electricity connections not making targets

No hope of meeting Zuma’s promises…

elec poleThe inability of municipalities and local government to bring electricity to the poor and for the department of energy (DOE) to meet its promised target of electricity to all households by 2015 was a subject which dominated the DOE’s annual report to Parliament recently. New Minister of governance and traditional affairs, Pravin Gordhan, will have this issue before him as he tackles local government problems as will new minister of public enterprises, Lynne Brown.

Ms Nelisiwe Magubane, DG of DOE was reporting on the activities of her department for the 2o12/13 period and neither the minister of energy, Ben Martins, or his deputy, was present, much to the chagrin of portfolio  committee energy committee chairperson, Sisi Njikelena, who reported angrily on the subject.      DOE was reporting on its annual report and second quarter achievements.

Success with avoiding Middle East for oil

In noting that the year had been dominated by fluctuating oil prices, Ms Magubane noted that South Africa had succeeded in switching 41% of its oil imports to the African continent.

DG Magubane also reported that the electricity supply situation had improved in the country and the department’s own household electricity connection programme had also improved, mainly thanks to Eskom, but there was a large backlog that still existed due to lack of accountability by municipalities. This was a worrying factor for the country, she said. On this subject, further reports followed.

Other DOE targets met

Dr Barnard

Dr Barnard

On clean energy as far as the year was concerned, she reported that in August financial close had been received from twenty eight of the independent power producer (IPP) bids: the biofuels blending regulations had been drafted; the draft pricing arrangements started; and a nuclear safety report compiled and submitted as a result of lessons learnt from the Fukushima disaster.
 Dr Wolsey Barnard took up the issue of DOE’s poor record on electricity connections and said that bearing in mind the lack of skills and training at local government, it “was a miracle that South Africa had achieved so much”.

Aside from the fact, he said, that the government financial year was different to the municipal year, which made a mockery of funding programmes and targets, he said dealing with municipalities was “extremely difficult”  but nevertheless “for each seventy seconds of each day there was a connection some here in South Africa”.

Treasury must ring fence local funding

On the problematic relationships with local government, Dr Barnard said DOE was doing as much as it could “but you can pull a rope but you can’t push it and that was the trouble in dealing with local government officials”.   He said he looked forward to the day when National Treasury’s promised Bill “ring fencing” funds was promulgated “and then we might get somewhere”, he said.

He noted that each municipality had to sign a contract to get funding in the first place, providing business plan, “but sometimes we get to a place to install for a lot of homes built and there is no sub-station or any hope of connecting to the national grid”.

Cabora Bassa dam debt at R1

nelisiwe magubaneMs Magubane confirmed that in the annual reports a loan to Mozambique for the Cabora Bassa dam had been written down to R1 with the permission of Treasury. This loan was in respect of money loaned in the ‘sixties and it was clear that the Mozambique government could not pay. However, the question of re-payment of this loan would be re-raised, she said.

On queries why there seemed so little interest in gas exploration by government in Mozambique, whereas other countries seemed to have “got their foot in first”, Muzi Mkhize, chief director of hydrocarbons, said that “unlike other countries, we do not subsidize our national oil exploration effort and, in any case, the quest of dealing with countries was a foreign affairs matter and country to country relationships had to come first.”

SA to meet Mozambique on gas exploration

Sisi Njikelana said that this was a totally unsatisfactory answer and called on Mkhize for a better explanation to his committee.  Mkhize admitted that South Africa was “meeting Mozambique on a government to government basis on gas exploration matters in mid-October”.

When asked what had happened to the nuclear safety report, deputy director general of nuclear, DOE, Zizamele Mbambo, said that this was a security document but it had been acted upon.

The Eskom representative was asked to speak on the subject when a question was raised about the Koeberg Nuclear plant by a Cape Town MP, and the Eskom official reported that a “fortnightly nuclear safety committee met in the area with all representatives present” and that the meeting was chaired by a person drawn from the local community.

Refer to articles in this category
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//public-utilities/municipal-free-basic-services-slow-build/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/dpe-

Posted in BEE, Electricity, Energy, Enviro,Water, Facebook and Twitter, Finance, economic, LinkedIn, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Treasury sticks to its guns on carbon tax

2015, only if implementable….

nattreasury logoNational Treasury is still planning to introduce a carbon tax on January 1, 2015, but chief director for economic and tax analysis, Cecil Morden, told business that government will only move ahead when it is satisfied implementation possibilities.

In Parliament, when asked by members of the finance standing committee if this was “yet another revenue tool”, he said the primary objective of implementing carbon taxes was to change future behaviour before it was too late.

Doing our own thing

“The clock is ticking”, said Morden.   He asked parliamentarians not to diminish South Africa’s role as a potential leader on the issue with carbon tax. “The USA is paralysed and if we do nothing because China and the USA does nothing, we would have lost the opportunity to start at a lower level, do things slowly and sensibly, with marginal steps towards inevitable change.”

Confronted at a National Business Initiative meeting in Johannesburg calling for more information on the tax and answering further queries as to such a tax was necessary at this stage of South Africa’s development, Morden said that more clarity would be provided in the draft legislation.

At the moment a policy document on the tax has been published by Treasury for public comment.

Phasing in

The tax is proposed at a rate of R120/t of carbon dioxide equivalent, increasing at 10% a year during the first phase, from 2015 to 2019 and the legislation, of which a draft has yet to be published as a result of the current public comment period. This would give the detail, Morden said. It would describe the tax-free thresholds for each sector and possible offset structures.

Morden acknowledged that there might still be gaps, but encouraged stakeholders to highlight these in their written responses and to make proposals on how these could be filled.

We’re not tax collectors

Again he denied, as he did to opposition members in Parliament, that the carbon tax was nothing more than a revenue-generation exercise and disagreed flatly with the argument that such tax proposals were not a priority in the context of the country’s other socio-economic, skills and infrastructure problems.

Morden countered his Johannesburg questioners in the same manner as he did in Parliament on to why the tax was necessary; saying, “We do not have to have a carbon tax to raise revenue as suggested and the gradual introduction of a carbon tax should been seen as a contribution to the international agreements on climate response that South Africa has already agreed to and the consequent necessity to reduce South Africa’s greenhouse-gas emissions.

Tax to be fed back somehow

The National Treasury would not, however, entertain “hard” earmarking or ring fencing of the revenue accumulated but would consider other recycling mechanisms, including “soft” earmarks in future Budget undertakings; reducing other taxes and levies; and the introduction of new incentive schemes.

More background articles on subject
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/gigaba-to-line-up-eskom-for-carbon-tax/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/carbon-tax-not-popularly-received-by-parliament/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/parliament-briefed-on-new-climate-response-policy/

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Energy, Enviro,Water, Finance, economic, Health, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Special Recent Posts, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Illegal diesel coming in from Mozambique

DOE working with customs……

Department of energy (DoE), admitted to the portfolio committee on energy that they knew of illegal diesel fuel imports emanating from Mozambique and that the department was working with customs and excise officials to track down culprits. DoE was reporting on its third and fourth quarter performance figures.

DoE confirmed that in many cases tanker transport was being used and in most instances the fuel itself was sub-standard, sometimes being a mixture of diesel and other fuels such as paraffin. Most of the fuel was being offered to farmers at cheap rates.

The subject arose when Mr L Malaudzi, acting chief operating officer, was outlining to members many of the issues involved in DoE’s programmes on governance and compliance. He explained the department’s inability to hold a planned anti-fraud workshop due to time constraints and other more pressing issues but promised that such a workshop would be conducted in the first quarter of 2013/4 and he would call stakeholders.

Focus point Mpumalanga

Questions arose from opposition members that fuel was being offered for sale in some areas of Mpumalanga from such sources. Tseliso Maqubela, deputy director general, confirmed that DoE was aware of such incidents and that the department of customs and excise had many problems with goods passing through this “porous border” nearby and that cheap and sometimes “dirty” fuels were on the list of issues.

Maqubela confirmed in his report to parliamentarians on petroleum regulations during the final quarter of 2012/3, that 92 site inspections over and above the target of 1500 sites had been completed but that no fuel sample testing was conducted due to a lack of budget for this function. This subject was to be deferred to next year, he said.

No budget to investigate

In discussing fuel specifications generally, Maqubela confirmed that DoE would “speak to industries to see if we can re-prioritise the matter”. He did not elaborate on this as to whether he was talking about capital projects or fuel mixes generally. He said, however, that on border transfers, particularly by road, had to be investigated and a budget of R50m had been requested next year from the fiscus to follow up on this. At the moment, only diesel imports were being followed up in investigations, such investigations also being limited.

On fuel pricing generally, he said that a desk top study on basic fuel pricing (BFP) was being undertaken, the stakeholder discussion portion of the study having been completed in March of this year.   BFP was a major issue nationally at the moment, he said, as were various items that went to make up its structure. He hoped that most of the issues would be resolved with stakeholders towards the end of this year.

Crude oil priorities

On existing crude oil matters, Saldanha, Milnerton and Durban were the current priority areas at the moment for infrastructure development, he said, and whereas before 28% of crude imports came from Iran, he said, “We haven forced to diversify which is exciting because it introduces the issue of African trade”.

The US is now producing considerable quantities of light crude which again has reversed trends and “there is an opportunity for Africa, particularly Angola and Nigeria, to deal with us and take up slack.”

Clean energy savings

On clean energy issues, Ompi Aphane, deputy director general, said that that so far major savings in terms of the municipal energy saving plan had been recorded with fifteen of the twenty eight participants in the DoE programme having registered savings, which Aphane said had translated into some R37m a year and 31,000MWh to the national grid.

However, he reported that the intended strategy plans for biomass, biogas and biofuels had got nowhere and DoE were looking at taking away from SANEDI the responsibility for this undertaking.

Posted in Fuel,oil,renewables, Justice, constitutional, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

Sanedi plans for a low carbon future

Carbon capture drilling underway….

SANEDI (SA National Energy Development Institute) was a “catalyst” for South Africa in the development of clean energy technologies and was this year spending, said its CEO, Kevin Nassiep, some R69m on its carbon capture project with drilling operations in the Eastern Cape, near Port Elizabeth.

It was also deploying R71m developing a business case and development plan for “smart grids” in South Africa incorporating clean energy into local energy uses.

Working with gas and cars

Other projects were its co-ordination programme with department of energy on the possibility of shale gas in the Karoo and the development of the electric car with the “green car” programme based out of Pretoria. On energy saving, SANEDI said it was working with PetroSA.

Nassiep said, when it came to each project the country wanted to involve itself in, South Africa had to decide first whether it was better to be an innovator, even an inventor, with the creation of a new technology: whether it was better to be a late follower of something that was recent and to add value or “localise” the project, or whether it was simply best to be a buyer of existing energy technologies or products straight from the product shelf.

In the case of carbon capture, SANEDI was either a developer and leader or could add value to what it existed elsewhere adding to its own knowledge. By the end of the year SANEDI could make a final assessment and take the right course on carbon capture.

Funding from overseas

To this end, SANEDI was working with various portions of SA industry; the Norwegian government and had access to the ₤25m fund that the UK government has placed in the World Bank Carbon Capture and Storage Trust Fund.

Members asked why ethanol gel could not be sold and developed as a low cost energy fuel rather than say, LP gas.    SANEDI responded with the answer that in their view it was a question of consumerism. Whilst ethanol gel could be much safer, it would not land up cheaper or more available until products that used it had been developed and a market demand had been developed.

It was the same with the electric car, Nassiep said.    It had to be at a good price, conveniently refueled or re-charged, safe and highly preferred in the market place.

(The writer asked Kevin Nassiep if he thought or if there had been any discussions that any funding for carbon capture drilling might come out of a “ring fenced” fund from a possible carbon tax but he said that he, SANEDI or even CEF would not have the slightest idea on this. Only treasury, he commented personally, would have any insight on this.)

Associated articles archived
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/sanedi-to-become-a-force-in-energy-research/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/carbon-capture-storage-technology-underway-in-sa/

Posted in Energy, Enviro,Water, Health, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Biofuels development stays in limbo

Nobody building

sorghumIn a major presentation by the department  of energy (DOE) it became quite evident that governments biofuels strategy was still only a theory and whilst eight biofuels projects had licences either granted in principle or issued in practice, not one plant has yet gone into the building phase to meet government’s target of creating an estimated 25,000 jobs.

Ms Mokgadi Modise, chief director of clean energy at DOE, told the portfolio committee on energy up front that it was acknowledged by DOE that South Africa’s biofuels strategy could not get off the ground unless the state came up first with clear policy regulations and incentives to industry.

Big plans for 2013

Nevertheless, entrants to the industry that had indicated a firm commitment to the biofuels production had provided a cumulative figure to DOE that would exceed the 2013 target they had originally envisaged of some 400m litres, about 2% of the national fuels pool.

She said that whilst this was an encouraging start, there was little hope of any target date being met primarily because no support mechanisms from Treasury were yet put out; no regulations or pricing mechanisms had been established but only talked about and government was still undecided on blending options – the most suitable crops being mainly sorghum, soya, sugar and canola.

Blending issues

The minimum blending level of 5% biofuels into conventional diesel and petrol were set last year, in a gazette published accordingly, she said.

Currently, Modise said, DOE acknowledged that bio-ethanol falls outside the fuel tax net but bio-diesel, if supplied, would not, although manufacturers, would receive their 50% from the fuel levy in this case. Blending options were the six refineries in South Africa and at all the fuel depots, which amounted to 2 large depots for each of the seven oil companies.

Having heard their options, it was assumed by DOE that two of the companies would blend at their refineries and the balance of oil companies would blend at their depots. She gave no names.

On capital investment by the oil companies, she noted that R278m would have to be spent on refinery blending for this to be possible and a minimum of R460m on depot blending.

Looking outside SA

Parliamentarians noted that satisfactory diversification processes seemed to be going on in the liquid fuels industry and there were obviously attempts to create sustainable jobs but they asked what export markets were being created and how was the product going to be transported.

Modise said these issues had not yet been explored by DOE but she needed a joint meeting with the departments of science and technology, the department of agriculture including water department and treasury officials present before any such questions could be answered.

She said feasibility studies were being conducted with the refinery companies in order to establish whether or not they would “buy in” and that the department of science and technology were to supply their research findings by 31 March. A decision had to be taken by the same date on whether or not to exclude maize as a permitted feedstock.

Treasury answers needed

In answer to questions on financing, Modise said that IDC had put R1.5m aside for support but treasury needed play out its support programme on incentives and might make a statement before the national budget took place.

Parliamentarians said that if jobs were to be created in the right areas then Modise and DOE had to ensure that any such incentives must speak to the issue of distance from the market place if growth of agriculture in the “homelands” areas was to be encouraged. Modise said that was the kind of question that DAFF and treasury had to get together on.

On the one major biofuels plant that had been in the newspapers, namely the Craddock facility which had IDC backing, Modise said it still only had a conditional “granted” licence as not all requirements, mainly financial, had been met in order to issue a licence – only a temporary “granting” being considered. There was also a well-developed plan in Port Elizabeth but this was still on hold. A “granted” licence was a strong indication but an “issued” licence gave the right to operate.

Things too vague, says chair

In conclusion, chair Sisi Njikelana said there must be immediate follow up by Parliament on the whole issue of biofuels since DOE had to get beyond just local strategy and move towards the creation of an enabling environment. He had no sense, he said, on finality on manufacturing possibilities or issues, or even a road map on what was happening generally.

Modise responded by saying that DOE needed certain  “triggers” at the stage to happen; for example for the government needed to start talking to SADC for a start to see if the country really should be really working to just a 2% figure of the local market alone; treasury and particularly  agriculture had to provide clarity on policy; and technical issues under debate had to be finalised.

Feedstock,incentives,transport et al

Lance Greyling of the ID said the possibility of creating thousands of jobs in the biofuels industry had started in 2007 and there was still an air of frustration and expectation.   He told DOE that whilst it may seem possible to exceed the originally set target of 400m litres a year, the security of supply of feedstock was still a worrying issue, as was transport to manufacturing points and a proper tax incentives plan, including recovery cost factors to the liquid fuel companies.

Much more work had to be also with the department of rural development and land reform as well, he said, on the issue of getting small holders being able to get crops as well to their market in order to assist in rural development.  The implementation of the whole biofuels strategic plan was far too slow, he said.

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Energy, Enviro,Water, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Land,Agriculture, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments


This website is Archival

If you want your publications as they come from Parliament please contact ParlyReportSA directly. All information on this site is posted two weeks after client alert reports sent out.

Upcoming Articles

  1. Carbon Tax debate heats up in Parliament
  2. Copyright Bill goes into final stages
  3. Hate Crimes Bill on way back to Parliament
  4. DTI briefs Parliament on the road ahead
  5. RE-IPP4 alive again with LNG interest
  6. Competition Commission rough on investors

Earlier Editorials

Earlier Stories

  • AARTO licence demerit system studied  …. In what has been a legislative marathon, the update of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (AARTO) has now reached a stage […]

  • SARS role at border posts being clarified …. In adopting the Border Management Authority (BMA) Bill, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs agreed with a wording that at all future one-stop border […]

  • Modernising SAPO a culture change ….. sent to clients 27 February…. Stage by stage, Mark Barnes, Group Chief Executive Officer of South African Post Office (SAPO), appears to be reforming cultures and […]

  • OECD money task force waiting for SA   ….sent to clients Feb 7…. Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance, Yunus Carrim, made it quite clear in terms of parliamentary rules that […]

  • President Zuma vs Parliament on FICA Bill …..editorial……The convoluted thinking that is taking place in South Africa to avoid the consequences of the law has once again become evident in […]