Feb 17, 2012
CSIR – higher and higherBack
© 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)
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
Other Terry Mackenzie-Hoy News
Recent Research Reports
Water 2015: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2015 Report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context but also in the African and global context in terms of supply and demand, water stress and insecurity, and access to water and sanitation, besides others.
Input Sector Review: Pumps 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2015 Input Sector Review on Pumps provides an overview of South Africa’s pumps industry with particular focus on pump manufacture and supply, aftermarket services, marketing strategies, local and export demand, imports, sector support, investment...
Liquid Fuels 2015: A review of South Africa's liquid fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2015 Report examines these issues in the context of South Africa’s business environment; oil and gas exploration; fuel pricing; the development of the country’s biofuels industry; the logistics of transporting liquid fuels; and...
Road and Rail 2015: A review of South Africa's road and rail sectors (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2015 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 infrastructure and network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and...
Defence 2015: A review of South Africa's defence sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Coal 2015 report examines South Africa’s coal industry with regards to the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local demand, export sales and coal logistics, projects being undertaken by the large and smaller participants in the...
Real Economy Year Book 2015 (PDF Report)
There are very few beacons of hope on South Africa’s economic horizon. Economic growth is weak, unemployment is rising, electricity supply is insufficient to meet demand and/or spur growth, with poor prospects for many of the commodities mined and exported. However,...
This Week's Magazine
The BMW Group will invest R6-billion at BMW Group South Africa’s (BMW SA’s) Rosslyn plant to produce the next-generation X3 sports-activity vehicle (SAV) for the local and export markets. Rosslyn will continue production of the current 3 Series through its lifecycle,...
The lack of consequences for poor performance and transgressions on the part of contractors remains a significant hurdle to tackling South Africa’s service delivery challenges, delegates heard at the Consulting Engineers South Africa Infrastructure Indaba, on...
City of Ekurhuleni executive mayor Mondli Gungubele earlier this month officially named the city’s bus rapid transit (BRT) system, Harambee.
About 58% of unstructured data stored by companies is dark data, which means that the value or regulatory importance of the data has not been determined. Subsequently, most of the stored data add costs, rather than increasing revenue or reduce regulatory risks, says...
Effective logistics, import/export and manufacturing consulting services require detailed industry knowledge and experience, but can add significant value to these industries by providing expert advice on various technical elements in their value chains, says...