Feb 17, 2012
CSIR – higher and higherBack
Cape Town|DURBAN|Johannesburg|Pretoria|Africa|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
Recent Research Reports
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.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
This Week's Magazine
While Ekurhuleni-based transformer manufacturer Reliable Transformers currently designs, manufactures and tests its products according to the SANS 780 specifications for distribution transformers and other applicable transformer specifications, it is working towards...
Global endpoint security solutions company Kaspersky Lab has introduced new measures to prevent cyber criminals from accessing sensitive data, alongside its malware-signature and heuristic device analysis detection methods. Threats to mobile devices have increased...
To ensure uptake and a positive impact, Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) networks in cities must be provided at schools, community centres and commercial centres to enable citizens and government to access information that will improve access to and delivery of services....
Eco-estate Monaghan Farm, located near Lanseria airport, north-west of Johannesburg, has taken a new approach to modern living and sustainability with its 517 ha development, dedicated to farm living.
Forklift and lift-truck distributor Goscor Lift Hi-Reach launched the Genie SX-180, the tallest self-propelled super boom in Africa, in Johannesburg last month. “As the official distributor of the well-known Genie range of equipment in Southern Africa, we are pleased...