Feb 17, 2012
CSIR – higher and higherBack
Cape Town|DURBAN|Johannesburg|Pretoria|Africa|Environment|Eskom|Industrial|PROJECT|System|Turbines|Africa|South Africa|United States|Building|Energy|Wind Energy|Wind Energy Facilities|Western Cape|Environmental|Power|Turbines|Bearing
© Reuse this
The story so far is: the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has completed an environmental-impact assessment (EIA) which evaluates the impact of putting up 70 wind turbines along the route to the Garden Route. What is proposed is the establishment of four commercial wind energy facilities near the towns of Swellendam, Heidelberg, Albertinia and Mossel Bay, in the Western Cape. The project would consist of about 70 turbines of up to 3 MW capacity each. The total combined generation capacity would be about 210 MW.
These turbines are massive – they have a hub height of 60 m to 100 m and a blade diameter of between 70 m and 112 m. The distance from the ground to the top of the blade will be between 95 m and 156 m. For the 95 m turbines, each turbine plus blades will be taller than all but 35 buildings in the whole of South Africa. The 156 m turbines will only be topped by the Carlton Centre and Ponte, in Johannesburg, and will be taller than any building in Cape Town, Pretoria or Durban.
The real reason why developers want to stuff up the visual aspects of the Cape is not to provide green power – it is to maintain the right of the US to pollute. It is all about carbon credits. A carbon credit is created when the equivalent of one ton of carbon dioxide is prevented from entering the atmosphere. Each carbon credit has a monetary value, depending on the type and origin of the emission reduction produced. Each carbon credit can be traded on the open market, with the current international spot rates averaging R120/t.
Now, if a US organisation has to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide by, say, 200 t/t, then all that has to be done is to erect wind turbines in the Western Cape, which supposedly prevent Eskom from emitting a few tons of greenhouse gases which allows the US to just continue polluting after paying the wind turbine operator.
So, effectively, we are selling the US the right to continue polluting by erecting visually appalling wind turbines. Let me summarise the earlier columns I wrote on this subject with answers to some frequently asked questions.
Q: Surely, it is a good idea to generate green power in the Western Cape, as this would reduce greenhouse gases.
A: It would be a good idea if the power was available as needed. But it’s not – when the wind fails, so does the power, and so the Eskom system still has to be built to accommodate the load when the wind is not blowing. Worse, the Eskom units will have to run as spinning reserve to pick up when the wind drops. Thus, they may be idling at a point of low efficiency when running as spinning reserve so the greenhouse-gas emissions upcountry will be worse than normal.
Q: Won’t the wind turbines reduce reliance on Koeberg?
A: The power supply in the Western Cape is no longer reliant on Koeberg – two gas turbine stations and a new power line have re-enforced the system.
Q: What harm can the turbines do?
A: They will create a huge visual impact, they will create a high noise environment, they are a danger to birds, especially blue cranes, and the power lines needed to route power from them to the network will result in further visual destruction of the environment.
And, finally . . . the CSIR. There is something particularly loathsome about organisations that are government funded taking on work which is normally done by the private sector. Bearing no financial risk, they do work better done by others. The CSIR was created for research, and not to do EIAs. The council has no mandate to do this. I have touched on the mistakes it has made in this particular EIA but the full list would cover pages. Others and I have dined out on the errors in the docu- ments. The CSIR should just get out of the EIA business and stay out – right out.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Terry Mackenzie-Hoy News
Updated 5 hours ago Temporary power generation services provider Aggreko has extended the contract for its 200 MW gas-fired power project in Côte d'Ivoire by three years, with the option to extend this by a further two years.
Updated 5 hours ago Troubled South African State power utility Eskom should place emphasis on stability ahead of improvement, GE chairperson and CEO Jeffrey Immelt suggested on Monday. Speaking at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in Johannesburg, the head of the...
Updated 6 hours ago A Competition Tribunal hearing into alleged cartel activity and price-fixing by several companies in the wire and wire products manufacturing industry was again postponed on Monday pending a decision by the Competition Appeal Court (CAC). Respondents Allens Meshco,...
Recent Research Reports
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
This Week's Magazine
Three-dimensional (3D) printers being sold in South Africa by electronics distributor Rectron currently print in two types of plastic, but have a clear upgrade path over the next five years to eventually print in wood, ceramics and metal-alloy materials, says Rectron...
The world’s two dominant commercial aircraft manufacturers, Airbus of Europe and Boeing of the US, both recently announced that they had made record aircraft deliveries in 2014. Boeing set a global record for the industry with 723 commercial aircraft delivered, while...
The Western Cape is shifting further into the renewable-energy space with the official opening of a factory specialising in solar inverters, a key component of solar photovoltaic (PV) plants. The investment in the manufacturing facility in Cape Town aims to boost the...
Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) last month welcomed Cabinet’s establishment of a technical team war room to undertake various interventions to improve electricity supply security over the short- and medium-term, but added that the private sector also had a...
Despite a rapid rise in mobile connections and the economic and social benefits of such connectivity, more than half of the world ended 2014 unconnected. For this reason, industry commentators believe the biggest impact of mobile technology is still to come –...