Action in energy arena needed

Business Report, Liz McDaid, Robert Fischer, Yvette Abrahams 18 December 2012.

Once the brouhaha around who will lead the ANC for the next five years is out of the way, those at Mangaung this week have a bigger dilemma on their hands.

With rising unemployment, an ever widening gap between rich and poor, and mounting social unrest, the ANC is arguably in one of the toughest spots it has been in since coming to power. It has to act decisively to deliver on its promises of a better life for all or risk losing credibility.

One opportunity for decisive action lies in the energy sector, where many of these challenges converge. Key decisions here will have massive impacts on national debt, social equity and job creation in the years to come, to say nothing of environmental consequences.

Access to modern energy services is considered to be a key aspect for improved economic development and reducing inequality. The many economic and social benefits that accrue to humanity in general and the poor in particular, from access to electricity, for example, are covered by a vast body of respected research…

More …


Solutions sought to end use of kerosene lamps

BBC News 26 September 2012.

Once a week Badriya walks six miles from her village in East Tanzania to the nearest shop, where she spends a quarter of her family’s weekly earnings on kerosene so she can light her home.

She is one of nearly two billion people across the globe who have no access to electricity.

Kerosene lamps are widely used for lighting in rural areas of Asia and Africa where electrical distribution is either not available, or too costly for widespread use.

Yet using kerosene for lighting is extremely inefficient, dangerous and expensive, and it has extensive health and environmental drawbacks.

The World Bank estimates that breathing kerosene fumes is the equivalent of smoking two packets of cigarettes a day and two-thirds of adult females with lung cancer in developing nations are non-smokers…

$9m boost for Mozambique ethanol cooking venture

Engineering News 19 September 2012.

To increase food security in Africa and stem the human and environmental costs of indoor cooking with charcoal, the Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF) and the Industrialisation Fund for Developing Countries (IFU) would invest nearly $9-million in cooking fuel company CleanStar Mozambique to help distribute its ethanol-fired stoves.

(Editor’s note: At first sight food security and farming for bio fuels would appear to be a contradiction in terms. however, if CleanStar gets it right, farmers will produce food crops and surplus cassava – the cassava being used to produce bio-ethanol. We have a similar project in KZN, the Umdoni Gel Fuel project, which uses bio-ethanol produced from sugar cane.)


Generating power: exploring local energy resource options with rural communities in South Africa

REEEP 11 July 2012.

South Africa, 14.06.2012

A major challenge in South Africa is supplying sustainable energy for socio-economic development. The grid is unlikely to reach remote rural areas soon. Unreliable energy discourages Foreign Direct Investment. Eastern Cape municipalities cannot guarantee investors adequate energy services. Energy supply issues are highly politicised, and national government and municipalities are under pressure from investors and the public. Government energy interventions promote ‘self-reliance’ but lack meaningful community involvement, while people often see energy provision as a free basic right.

With South Africa responsible for 42% of Africa’s carbon emissions, interest is reviving in renewable energy, with increased targets in the 2010 Integrated Resource Plan. Poor rural communities rely on biomass energy for cooking and heating. Yet the potential for community-scale biomass-to-electricity, using sustainably managed wood fuel, or agricultural or timber waste, is under-developed (e.g. compared to India). Solar, wind and hydropower are also underutilised.

This project, carried out by the International Institute for Environment and Development and One World and funded under REEEP’s 8th Programme Cycle, is exploring the feasibility of community-driven energy service delivery (from lighting to cooking to space heating), using resource assessments, household surveys, value chain analysis, South-South technology exchanges and dialogues with investors. The primary aim is to catalyse long-term support from municipalities and investors, while building communities’ capacities to understand sustainable energy markets and attract investment.

The main activities and outputs of the project will be:

  • Analysis of existing models of community-driven and participatory access-to-energy projects.
  • A survey of investors to identify challenges and opportunities faced by public and private investors in low-income, low-carbon energy markets.
  • Participatory energy surveys: household and community-wide surveys in partner communities relating to development needs, energy usage and local energy resources.
  • Knowledge and technology exchange workshops: practical presentation and demonstration of existing models and approaches, involving entrepreneurs, local and international experts, community leaders, municipalities, local industry and investors.
  • Energy training workshops in partner communities: Using materials developed by the project, the training will cover energy sources, energy usage, investment challenges, financial and ownership models.

Expected Impacts:

  • Enhanced community awareness of energy options, local energy resources, and energy management issues, overcoming perceptions of energy as a free service provided by government
  • Productive dialogue established between municipalities, communities, the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) and investors relating to resolution of energy access issues in partner communities
  • Investment community engaged in discussing solutions, with potential for concrete investment commitments (either during the course of the project, or post-project)
  • Greater self-reliance and self-assertion by community members in engaging with government and investors on energy access issues, based on a set of energy options agreed by the communities themselves; increased profile of women, youth and other vulnerable and marginalized groups in such engagements
  • Innovative ideas about how to address energy poverty by focusing on local resource options and tapping into community resourcefulness and imagination
  • Increased awareness among civil society organisations and broader public about energy access issues and community-driven approaches to addressing them
  • Enhanced knowledge and evidence base relating to the feasibility, advantages and trade-offs of taking a community-driven approach to resolving energy access issues in a rural South African context 7 June 2012.
At their Seoul, South Korea Summit in November 2010, the G20 adopted a Multi-Year Action Plan on Development which aims to promote economic growth, particularly in about 80 low-income countries. Infrastructure development is at the top of the nine-point agenda. In order to close Africa’s energy infrastructure gap, the group emphasises large-scale public-private partnership projects in order to promote economic growth and regional integration.

The G20 asserts that new investments into the continent’s energy sector are long overdue. This is true. However, Saliem Fakir (WWF SA) takes issue with the group’s call for delivering solutions with an entire focus on large-scale, centralised energy infrastructure projects. He argues that more attention should be given to modular and more flexibly deployable renewable energy technologies that can reduce poverty and minimise financial risk while maintaining a small carbon footprint.

Download the report…

Written by Saliem Fakir, Head of Living Planet, WWF South Africa

Published by HBS Southern Africa

Credible Carbon – a voluntary carbon emissions credit initiative

Anton Cartwright PACE and Thrive 28 November 2011.

As country representatives gather in Durban to discuss ways of cutting greenhouse gas emissions and alleviating poverty, PACE is pleased to say that we have been taking real action on exactly that.

Please see the attachment for information on each of the registry’s six actively trading projects. All project carbon is accounted for in an independently audited registry –  Credible Carbon™ – that ensures projects both reduce emissions and make an impact on poverty.

Detail on specific projects is available on request.

Credible Carbon Portfolio Update Dec 2011