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wind power

  • Nuclear vs Renewable Energy

    We were suddenly given a ray of hope amid the current political gloom when the Western Cape High Court declared the Nuclear Procurement process unlawful. Launched in October 2015 by Earthlife Africa (ELA) and Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), their case contends that the government is violating the constitution by concluding deals without first debating it in Parliament (read more about the Nuclear Deal). While this will hamper the Nuclear Program, there is still a long fight ahead and all gains made in the interim will stand testament to the value of renewable energy.

    Every step taken towards renewable energy diminishes the argument for Nuclear Energy. Rooftop solar has the potential to put Eskom under a lot of financial strain, leaving no option but to opt for the proven cheaper and safer renewable energy. Every kWh supplied by these alternative sources prevents the release of about 1kg CO² per unit of electricity. As the industry develops and allocates more funds to research and development it will become even more competitive.

    Russian Roulette

    No discussion on Nuclear and Renewable Energy is complete without taking full account of the risks posed by nuclear power. Only November last year was the final structure moved into place at Chernobyl to contain the nuclear waste, replacing the aging concrete structure that was erected in the weeks following the explosion. The biggest ever movable man-made structure is finally in place 30 years after the disaster.


    The catastrophic events following the Fukushima disaster on 11 March 2011 should be a reminder to us that contingency plans are not adequate when dealing with fission reactions. The power plant automatically switched off when the earthquake occurred which means the cooling of the reactors had to be powered externally by 13 diesel generators, only they were flooded by the tsunami causing hydrogen build-up in the reactors and their eventual explosion. The severity of the radioactive leaks into the atmosphere and the ocean will only become evident over time. Even so 116 children in the area have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer since the disaster, 20 – 50 times higher than the national average.

    The disposal of radioactive waste is considered a minor problem and mostly ignored by nuclear proponents, hence the absence of a permanent disposal plan for the high level waste i.e. spent fuel kept at Koeberg which is growing by 30 tons every year. In addition, 500 steel drums and 100 concrete drums of low to medium level nuclear waste from Koeberg gets buried every year at the Vaalputs Disposal Facility, 100 km south of Kimberley, and this from only two 900 MW reactors compared to 9600 MW planned for Thyspunt. A further cause for concern is the proposed fracking in the area which can lead to earth tremors, a factor almost certainly not considered when the 10 000 hectares was acquired in 1983.

    As if this is not enough problems for the Northern Cape, a local subsidiary of an Australian company, Peninsula Energy, has acquired 750 000 hectares of uranium exploration concessions in the Karoo. The hazards of Uranium mining are well known and pose a much greater threat to the region than commonly acknowledged. Half a million tons of waste rock and 100 000 tonnes of toxic waste tailings will need to be extracted to yield 25 tonnes of Uranium, enough to supply a reactor for one year.

     

     

    Sustainable Energy

    The abundance of solar and wind energy in South Africa are well documented. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) estimates that rooftop solar installation alone can provide 136TWh and the EIA areas can provide a further 420TWh when the aggregate demand currently stands at 225TWh. Critics of renewable energy point out that electricity demand peak in the evening due to increased domestic use and would thus need conventional ‘base load power’. Fortunately, wind power can take up the slack when the sun sets.

    Let’s look at the facts before shunning this as hippie conjecture. In theory, if we allocate 0.1km² for every MW wind generation capacity, our nation’s 1.3 million km² surface area can generate 38 000 TWh wind power per year. This is based on a load factor of 0.36 when in Germany in 2015 working on a load factor of 0.2, wind power amounted to 77TWh (at 44GW capacity), about a third of our annual demand.

    Since the first of four REIPPPP bid windows in November 2011, the cost of Solar Power has dropped from R3.65/kWh to R0.62/kWh and Wind power dropped from R1.51 to R0.62/kWh, whereas the cost of coal power currently stands at R1.3/kWh and Nuclear R1.17 - R1.30/kWh. Sadly the bidding has been stalled by Eskom since November 2015 and 37 Independent Power Producers (IPPs) are left waiting to invest over R50 Billion in the country.

    Clearly there are vested interests in the fossil fuel industry that view renewable energy as a threat to its profits. Acting Eskom CEO, Matshela Koko, claims he is prepared to sign the IPP bids at the current tariff, but this may be up to the new CEO stepping into office in June.

  • Why Wind Power is a Breath of Fresh Air

    wind-power

    The winds of change are upon us as we re-evaluate the way we consume energy and affect our environment on a daily basis. While solar energy presents an immediate and evident solution to the rising demand for (and cost of) electricity, the answer also lies with another, equally powerful although possibly less popular force of nature; the wind.

    A Bit of History…

    For centuries, the human race has used wind power to aid progress; from the sails of trading ships to the irrigation of crops and the powering of steam locomotives, natural wind power and wind pumps have long played a crucial role in our development. Today, wind turbines are a valuable source of renewable energy, generating clean electrical power without consuming fuel or emitting any air pollution. In today’s threatened environment, that really sounds like a breath of fresh air.

    Continue reading

  • Green Shipping is Imperative in the Fight against Climate Change

    Shipping is a massive industry and unfortunately it is a radical contributor to climate change. Green shipping is one method that may help to reduce carbon emissions, thereby reducing the impact on the environment.

     

    The term and concept of green shipping first became popular in 2008 but due to the state of the economic climate, green initiatives soon became a pay-off for companies in terms of saving costs as opposed to the fight against climate change being the primary concern. Continue reading

  • A Few of My Favourite Things...

    I’ve decided to take a little break from my Alternative Energy Made Easy series (although expect another great installation soon ) and list some of my favourite products and great deals that have been listed on our site.
  • Become a part of the wind power generation.

    Many of us notice wind power as we pass by wind turbines spinning eagerly on hill tops or on farms. In the past, wind turbines could regularly be spotted in open rural areas, where there was enough space to incorporate wind power into individual’s livelihood. It is slowly becoming evident that wind power has broken out of its area restrictions and now, wind power products are being utilised in residential areas and contributing as a clean, renewable energy source.

    How does wind power work?

    When air moves quickly, causing wind, this movement is known as kinetic energy. Wind power mechanisms capture this kinetic energy and convert it into other forms of energy, in this case electricity, which can be used in the home. When looking at the functioning of a common wind power mechanism – wind turbines – the way in which it works is fairly simple. The force of the wind or kinetic energy moves the blades of the turbine which in turn spins a shaft. The shaft is connected to the main source, the generator and this mechanism converts wind power energy into electricity. Continue reading

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