Every Friday, SAfm’s radio anchor Sakina Kamwendo speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:
Kamwendo: South Africans this week put a plan in place to ensure a “just transition” to the new clean electricity era.
Creamer: Those two words “just transition” are being uttered at ministerial and private sector level, because the world knows, and South Africa knows, that we are moving from a high carbon economy to a low carbon economy, and that there is going to be a disruption for people working in the high carbon economy including coal mines. There needs to be preparation now to have a just transition, so that not only workers, but also enterprises, can move into the clean energy space. What happened this week is that the private sector began allocating areas, particularly mining areas or old mined out areas, and wind and sun areas, because this is where they want to get the energy from, from the sun and the wind. We saw that at the old Witbank area - that is one place where they want to use sun energy, as well as Klerksdrop - the mined out gold area, they want to get sun energy from there. Then at Beaufort West they want to make use of the wind and start developing industry around these areas that can employ people so that as they move from the high carbon economy to the low carbon economy they don’t have a presence in the areas where there is no jobs. So, this is a very important transition that is taking place.
Kamwendo: A new Proudly South African technology is being rolled out to stop the curse of cable theft.
Creamer: We have all been victims of cable theft and it is tremendous that this Hudaco Group company - listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and [with] a company called Commercial ICT - has gone headlong into developing a cable theft prevention system. We see that it has hit the ground running. It is already operational in 12 sites in South Africa. It is getting enquiries from around the world, because this is always a worldwide problem. The big cable syndicates operate worldwide and feed the scrap dealers with the copper cable, particularly when the copper price is high. What they want to do with this system is change the whole reward to risk ratio and lift the risk side of it very high and the reward side very low by getting very early warnings of any tampering of cables so that there can be quick security reaction.
Kamwendo: By announcing its second big hydrogen project, Australia is beating South Africa to the punch.
Creamer: We could really be ahead, because we have been studying the hydrogen possibilities for the last decade, but suddenly Australia, which has also got a lot of sun and wind, is moving much faster. It is not really just the public sector, the private sector, foreign investment is coming in. The latest, which is a 5 000 MW hydrogen plant . . . what they will do is produce hydrogen by getting electricity from the sun to electrolyse water. This will be pushed by Siemens of Germany and the previous one, which is even bigger, is by Vestas of Denmark. You can see you can attract foreign investment very fast if you open the door and roll out the red carpet.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly.