An Eskom anti-green future for South Africa

Posted by: Yes Solar Cape (Cape Town, South Africa) – 14 September 2010

By: Jeremy Westgarth-Taylor
Pioneer of Water Rhapsody Conservation Systems and winner of a WWF Green Trust Award

The quantity of tons of ‘stuff’ that will exit South African power stations is so huge that it is beyond imagination.

Kendal Power Station. Eskom is the biggest single consumer of water in SA

The Regime of the day is also the owner of Eskom.  This body maintains its monopoly on the supply of electricity by supplying this commodity mainly from a resource of coal.  Our honourable minister must be made aware of some of the facts surrounding the coal that her coal-fired power stations do for us and our future generations…

  • Of the top-25 highest CO2 emitting power generating plants worldwide, South Africa has three stations.
  • South Africa is number eight of the top 50 countries with the highest CO2 emitting power sectors.
  • I have no figures for South Africa, but in the USA 67% of the sulphur dioxide emissions are from power generation.  Just in case the minister has not had any chemistry lessons, sulphur dioxide does not sound so terribly bad if you say these quickly.  SO2 (sulphur dioxide) when mixed with water forms H2SO4 (Sulphuric acid).  This stuff is what acid rain contains.
  • In April this year the World Bank approved a loan of three thousand seven hundred and fifty million Dollars ($3.75 billion) to build a dirty coal fired power station at Medupi.
  • At the same time the World Bank approved a loan of a mere $260 million for wind and solar power.
  • After Kisile and Medupi come on line 94% of all electricity generated in South Africa will be generated by coal fired power stations.  The sum total of all the coal fired power stations in South Africa will deliver a cumulative emission into the atmosphere of:
    • Sulphur dioxide, SO2 3 360 000 tons
    • NOx  3 400 000 tons
    • Carbon Dioxide CO2 1 243 000 000 tons
    • Particulate matter: 168000 tons
    • Hydrocarbons: 73920 tons.
    • CO: (carbon Monoxide) 241900 tons
    • Ash: 42 000 000 tons
    • Sludge: 64 800 000 tons.
    • Arsenic:  34 tons.
    • Lead:  17 tons
    • Cadmium: 600 kilograms.
    • Uranium and many other toxic metals.

It is useful for our honourable minister to know that wind generation produces none of the toxic substances at all, and uses no water, whereas, coal-fired power stations use 1.32 litres of water per kilowatt hour of electricity generated.  The sum total of water required for all of the power stations is six times the equivalent volume of the Vaal dam. This makes Eskom the biggest single consumer of water in country.

The quantity of tons of ‘stuff’ that will exit South African power stations is so huge that it is beyond imagination. I wish therefore to provide our honourable minister an analogy:  if the sum total of all the toxic substances listed here, emanating from all of the coal powered stations in South Africa, were to be placed into one ton vehicles nose to tail, these would stretch around the world at the equator 212 times every year.

Athlone Towers demolition date set

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 20 July 2010

After extensive consultation and planning, the Athlone cooling towers are to be demolished on Sunday 22 August 2010 at 12:00.

Both towers, which are nearly 20 years old, form part of the decommissioned Athlone coal-fired power station and have become unsafe following the collapse of the strengthening rings around one of them in February. They now need to be demolished in the interests of public safety.

The City’s Disaster Risk Management team is monitoring wind speeds, which could cause the towers to collapse, on a daily basis and has a plan in place should they become excessive.

It was decided last week that the towers will come down on Sunday 22 August, as this is a realistic date by which all safety measures can be in place and by when Jet Demolition indicated they will have all their preparation work for the demolition completed. The demolition is not weather dependent and can go ahead even if it rains on the day.

Various City Departments have worked together closely to ensure the demolition will be safe for the public, the surrounding areas and City services.

All the required permits and approvals have been obtained and the necessary site preparation is underway, with particular attention being given to the protection of existing services and safety of both the public and workers involved. Continue reading

Desalinated sea water for city in four years

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 23 April 2010

By: Jeremy Westgarth-Taylor
Pioneer of Water Rhapsody Conservation Systems and winner of a WWF Green Trust Award

The Table Mountain fossil aquifer has been there for millions of years. Extraction would permanently reduce the amount of water.

Water and Environmental Affairs (DWEA) Minister Buyelwa Sonjica has said that her department was forging ahead with plans to supply desalinated water to Cape Town, and furthermore extract water from the Table Mountain (TM) aquifer.

As mentioned in the article, all rivers in the Western Cape have been dammed, and the maximum amount of water is being extracted. There is no more water that can possibly be squeezed from our rivers.  What was not said is that this water is used, polluted and largely wasted to rivers around the Western Cape with concomitant damage to riverine and marine life.

The focus has always been and remains to supply more and more water.

Now DWEA are looking at other ways, hence the aquifer extraction and sea water desalination. Has the Minister not been advised by scientists that by extracting fossil water from the TM aquifer, the relatively finite amount of water in the aquifer is being permanently reduced for all practical intents and purposes. This is a fossil aquifer, and has been there for millions of years. Not only would extraction permanently reduce the amount of water in the aquifer, but it would also jeopardise plant and animal life as well as rivers within the aquifer system. If you for instance pump water out near Cape Town, there will be a lessening of available water as far as Port Elizabeth! Continue reading

Demolition of Athlone towers to proceed

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 11 April 2010

Three thousand holes need to be drilled into each tower for controlled demolition

Progress towards the demolition of the two Athlone cooling towers is proceeding smoothly, as the City works towards a demolition date around Sunday 30 May 2010.

A professional team, which includes an environmental scientist, was appointed on 10 March by means of a competitive process to oversee the technical, environmental and heritage aspects of the project and to prepare for a safe demolition.

The decision to demolish the two iconic towers follows structural damage to one of the cooling towers during the early hours of Sunday, 14 February 2010, when the stabilising rings around one of the towers became detached and fell to the ground. These rings were fitted as an additional safety and stability measure almost twenty years ago. Consulting structural engineers were immediately appointed to assess the damage and advise the City on what steps should be taken. Their recommendation was that the towers be demolished as soon as possible.

The City accepted the recommendation and has immediately proceeded to plan the demolition process. Continue reading

WWF moves closer to Green Power

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 14 March 2010

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF South Africa) is showing its commitment over the next three years to reducing its own environmental impacts by operating on certified Green Power provided by means of the Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) system.

Dr Morne du Plessis, CEO of WWF, says: “This is not only a significant move away from coal-based energy, and thus toward a greener future, but is also encouraging for all of us here at WWF, who are looking for tangible, measurable ways to reduce the environmental impact of our operations.”

“It is imperative that all energy users reduce their consumption as well as ensure that the source of the energy they use has the lowest possible environmental impact.”

Electricity from registered renewable energy sources has far lower environmental impacts than that generated at coal-fired power stations. These generators, which produce the majority of South Africa’s electricity use coal and water and emit ash, air pollutants and greenhouse gasses, which cause climate change.

The RECs are supplied by local firm GreenX Energy, which enables energy users to operate on certified Green Power which in this case is generated by solar panels of the Nuon-RAPS Utiltiy in KwaZulu-Natal. GreenX Energy is one of a small number of certified Green Power suppliers in South Africa, other companies include Amatola Green Power and Iskhus Energy.

Dr du Plessis concludes: “The fact that the impact of climate change will be felt first and hardest by the poor in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa and the world makes action on climate change a matter of social justice.”

Source: WWF