Tag Archive | energy renewables

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:

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SARi renewables initiative slow to gather momentum

The department of energy (DOE), represented by Elizabeth Marabwa, DOE director of hydrocarbons, introduced to Parliament a short update on the work of the South Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (SARi) whose founding partners are the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, Germany and the EU Investment Bank jointly working with South Africa.

The initiative was signed in December 2011, DOE said. Other overseas parties are involved in discussions and will possibly join.

SARi was quoted as being an initiative of the government of South Africa as part of the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) and also of South Africa’s national climate change response strategy. The aim of the initiative, said Marabwa, is to enable the scaling up of renewable energy in South Africa, particularly in the area of electricity renewables in terms of IPAP.

In answer to a complaint from Lance Greyling MP (ID) of the portfolio committee on energy that ”nothing seemed to be happening where SARi was concerned and millions of rands were available to South Africa to get renewable energy projects underway”, the DOE representative from SARi told parliamentarians that the programme was handed over to DOE by the department of trade and industry (DTI) only in February to initiate.

“Already the project team recently formed has produced its first report” the committee was told and DOE is yet to appoint a secretariat to manage the liaison project between the parties to the agreement and execute secretariat services.

A project committee is co-chaired by DOE and DTI. The objective was to “enable a critical mass of renewables to be developed in this country without incurring unacceptable incremental cost burdens to South Africa.”

The aim of the SARi project is stated as being to “catalyse South Africa towards a green growth pathway through the building of both a renewables generation and associated industrial cluster”.

Elizabeth Marabwa assured the committee that SARi, mandated by the cabinet and adopted as part of the DTI’s Industrial Action Plan (IPAP) and DOE’s climate response strategy, would be “up and running” before long.

The secretariat was only funded for six months by DTI, Parliament was told, but Ms Marabwa said that she was sure that National Treasury would pick up the tab to ensure that SARi became a sustainable entity in the near future.


Posted in Electricity, Energy, Fuel,oil,renewables, Land,Agriculture, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Uncategorized0 Comments

WWF warns that carbon tax must come to SA

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) warned South Africans that  “by not having a carbon tax to pay for carbon reduction programmes, the result was  too expensive for human well-being”. They were addressing the parliamentary committee on energy on outcomes of the COP17 conference on global warming, held recently in Durban.    WWF said that SA achieved the outcomes it needed at COP17 inasmuch that SA delegates had interceded sufficiently to prevent the breakdown of the Kyoto Protocol on African soil.   Nevertheless, there were still, in the opinion of WWF, massive “ambition gaps” in global warming objectives and that the “citizens of the world as a whole are still held hostage by the major developed countries”.

WWF representatives said South Africans should be very proud of the way this conference had been run; the high standard of input from the department of energy (DOE) and the contributions made by South African experts towards “a just transition to a sustainable environment.”

The most important achievement at COP 17 in their view was the setting up of a Green Climate Fund, although WWF admitted there is no funding income at this stage. Nevertheless, WWF said that whilst these funds may never reach the proportions expected, there was little doubt that money would start flowing in.

On the positive side it was to be noted, however, that not only had the “firewall” that had come about between developed and developing countries been broken down to some extent but that  carbon dioxide reductions targets expressed at earlier COP conferences were being realized as serious issues and not “pie in the sky” warnings.

At present, South Africa faced a carbon constrained future and hopefully it seemed had realized thus but the country was now at the point where it could be a market leader on the issue, or as WWF warned, it could be a “laggard reflecting technology interventions applied too late.”

“We are still treating every problem as if we only had a hammer and every challenge was a nail. The country had to start thinking outside the box, find new solutions and stop falling back on the coal as public enemy number one”, WWF said.

Whilst South Africa, WWF said, was not a country with large land-areas under forestation, the overall principle that 20 percent of global carbon emissions are caused by forms of deforestation –greater than emissions from every car, truck and plane on the planet combined – such facts still applied to South Africa.   Even if countries fulfil their current mitigation pledges, the world will still faced between a 2.6ᵒC and a 4°C scale of warming, which would leave the country in a perilous state.

Coal burning still remained the greatest exuder of carbon emissions and South Africa found itself therefore in a delicate position. Ways had to be found around these issues, whilst energy efficiency was still a totally underestimated answer for South Africa as a tool to fight global warming, WWF said.

They noted that SA, consequently, was “only behind China and India in carbon emissions” but it was to be noted that China had “already smelt the coffee” and was instituting changes. South Africa, they said, should join with China in the search for innovative programmes.

On carbon tax, WWF said that “SARS was an effective body and we should build on their abilities and clear with them a long-term scale-up trajectory of tax collection, starting on a low-scale manner in order not to upset development.”

On the country’s energy programme, WWF said that government has a direct and very powerful influence in the electricity sector and in the light of the benefit of this, in terms of the IEP, more could be achieved. There was economic  over-reliance on the mining sector for answers in energy planning generally but no single factor – whether it be energy security; job creation; CO2 emissions; water impacts or social impacts – should be “allowed to trump each other” in the search for answers.

WWF attacked fracking as a fuel industry practice. Air pollution from shale gas extraction was going to be a major problem if allowed, worse by far than coal they said. “Indeed, fracking is not even an option”.

WWF also noted that carbon intensities of methane gas were, according to US government survey results, excessive and fracking therefore did not fall into a low carbon future at all.  Underground water resources within a 17 mile distance from a well were contaminated and job creation opportunities were transient and temporary in nature.

Until the fuel companies can provide better data that could qualify and quantify a clearer future for this process, then the moratorium should not be lifted, WWF said. No specific fuel company was mentioned.

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