Every Friday morning, SAfm's AMLive's radio anchor Tsepiso Makwetla speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday's At the Coalface transcript:
Makwetla: South African breweries enlisting 44 000 African farmers to produce crops for beer making.
Creamer: More clear beer drinking in Africa is what they are looking to do. It is the aspirational beer in Africa but it is not affordable. So, what South African Breweries is planning to do, is to go in and have the crops grown, like the sorghum, cassava and the barley.
They let the local people grow those crop not that there aren't people doing that already, but they don't want to take those crops which should go into food and then put them into beer.
So, they want new crop growing going and then they partner with these people, guarantee purchases and then they make beer out of it because they see a $3-billion market waiting for them. There is not enough clear beer drunk there and a lot of people are drinking their own home brews.
We saw what happened in Kenya recently were 128 people died from a home brew and others were blinded. They are looking for a much higher level of clear beer. They see the market there but they know that it has got to be affordable.
Coming in with different branding like they did in Uganda with the Eagle, very successful migrating the sorghum clear beer into other African countries and then doing trials in Ghana with cassava and barley in Mozambique and Zambia. They already buy from that 15 000 farmers there but now they want to really push this to a high level.
Makwetla: Gosh Martin, I didn't realise beer drinking could be so scientific. Lets look at this wind farm in South Africa's Eastern Cape Province. A Belgium company planning to build that.
Creamer: Yes, a Belgium company coming in with R1,2-billion to build a wind farm at the Coega Industrial Development Zone in the Eastern Cape at Port Elizabeth.
The idea is that they will build their first 2,3 MW module before the FIFA World Cup in 2010 and the go on towards 2011 with a total of about 25 of these particular turbines.
They don't want to invest only in turbines, but they also want to invest in people, so they are going to select people and put them through the local universities, because we don't have enough intellectual capacity in renewable energy.
Those top students from the South African universities will get a chance to go to a European university, as well, so that they build up this pool of expertise. Of course, our ambitions with regards to wind energy in the country have been stated by the new Minister Dipuo Peters who said she wants 400 MW before 2012.
That is a fairly moderate ambition, which is about 1% of our capacity at the moment. We know that the National Energy Regulator is giving R1,25 per kilowatt hour now, so that has actually been decided how much they will pay these people who provide the wind energy.
We see some activity in Darling in the Cape where they are looking at expanding into a 70 MW wind farm and the also at Hopelands in the Cape to 100 MW. But, still fairly moderate in view of what people are doing elsewhere in the world.
Makwetla: Sasol will itself be producing half of the electricity it needs by 2012.
Creamer: They are going to 50 % energy independence. There is a lot of uncertainty with Eskom, they still haven't got their funding plan in place.
They hope to do that soon. People are aware that the cost of electricity is going to rise, so they are investing themselves. We see that with Sasol who is also an energy producer and produces transport energy like petrol and diesel, but it is saying from an energy security point of view, from electricity, they are going to produce half of the electricity that they need at their plant in Mpumalanga at Secunda.
They are producing about 33 % at the moment 280 MW and they will go to 600 MW by 2012 and that will be about 1,5 % of our national capacity.
So for one company coming in with 1,5 % is quite a big undertaking and it is all in the interest of cost as well, because they believe through co-generation they can produce that electricity a little bit lower. We know that Eskom at the moment is going to lift their tariffs quite substantially in the next three years.
Makwetla: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly, he'll be back with us at the same time next week.