‘SA wants Upington to be world’s ‘solar capital’

Engineering News, 28 October 2010

Energy Minister Dipuo Peters has laid down a solar challenge to the private sector and government in the Northern Cape – to make Upington a solar capital of the world.

“It is time this town went solar,” said Peters in her address to delegates gathered for the solar investor conference, which started on Thursday.

“Upington maak ‘n plan. Don’t follow the crowds, follow the sun!” she quipped.

Peters even questioned why the traffic lights in Upington were not solar powered. “Let’s get the whole town heating its water through solar water heaters. Let’s have the lights solar powered. There are companies here today who can make that happen, there are investors who can structure the financial packages to pay for this,” she said.

The Northern Cape has been selected as the base for the creation of a ‘Solar Park’, which could serve as a concentrated zone of solar development in South Africa.

The area had excellent and consistent radiation, flat and sparsely-populated land, the ability to connect to the electricity grid at multiple points, water available from the Orange River, a developed highway system, and the Upington airport, which made it an ideal location for solar deployment.

Department of Energy (DoE) director general Nelisiwe Magubane said that solar energy industrialisation in Upington implied the development of new skills for the local populace thus enhancing their employability.

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‘China Leads World in Renewable Energy Development’


Over the past few years, China has emerged as a global leader in clean energy, topping the world in production of compact fluorescent light bulbs, solar water heaters, solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, and wind turbines. The remarkable rise of China’s clean energy sector reflects a strong and growing commitment by the government to diversify its energy economy, reduce environmental problems, and stave off massive increases in energy imports. Around the world, governments and industries now find themselves struggling to keep pace with the new pacesetter in global clean energy development.

Chinese efforts to develop renewable energy technologies have accelerated in recent years as the government has recognized energy as a strategic sector. China has adopted a host of new policies and regulations aimed at encouraging energy efficiency and expanding renewable energy deployment. Taking lessons from its own experience as well as the experiences of countries around the world, China has built its clean energy sector in synergy with its unique economic system and institutions of governance. At a time when many countries still struggle with the aftermath of a devastating financial crisis, the Chinese government has used its strong financial position to direct tens of billions of dollars into clean energy— increasing the lead that Chinese companies have in many sectors.

Among other initiatives, the Chinese government has taken strong action to promote renewable energy, establish national energy conservation targets, and delegate energysaving responsibilities to regions. Key legislative actions include the national Renewable Energy Law, which entered into force in January 2006, the national Medium and Long-Term Development Plan for Renewable Energy, launched in September 2007, and the Medium and Long-Term Energy Conservation Plan, launched in November 2004.

Although per capita energy use in China remains below the international average, it is growing very rapidly, spurred recently by the infrastructure-intensive government stimulus program launched in late 2008. Even with efficiency advances, demand for energy is expected to continue to rise in the coming decades. Chinese energy consumption is currently dominated by coal, and the major energy-consuming sector is industry. Improving the efficiency of energy use and enhancing energy conservation will be critical to ease energy supply constraints, boost energy security, reduce environmental pollution, “green” the economy, and tackle the climate challenge.

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‘Study warns of failure to plan for rapid urbanisation in developing nations’

Research reveals Brazil’s lessons for countries in Africa and Asia

Governments in Africa and Asia must embrace and plan for rapid urbanisation or risk harming the future prospects of hundreds of millions of their citizens — with knock-on effects worldwide — warns a study published by IIED and UNFPA (the UN Population Fund) on 6 August 2010.

It says policymakers should heed lessons from Brazil whose failure in the past to plan for rapid urban growth exacerbated poverty and created new environmental problems and long-term costs that could have been avoided.

The proportion of developing countries that have adopted policies to curb urban growth rose from 46 percent in 1976 to 74 percent in 2007 and the study warns that this will “undoubtedly result in increasing poverty and environmental degradation.”

The study’s authors — Dr George Martine (past President of the Brazilian Association of Population Studies) and Dr Gordon McGranahan (of IIED) — say the critical first step is for policymakers to recognise the rights of poor people to live in cities and share in the benefits of urban life. The next is to plan ahead for their land and housing needs within a constantly updated vision of sustainable land use.

“A ‘business-as-usual’ approach that simply reacts to urban growth will be utterly inadequate,” says McGranahan. “To minimise the negative impacts of rapid urban growth developing countries can learn from Brazil’s experiences and, especially, its mistakes.”

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‘Power plan clings to pragmatism over ambition’

Engineering News, 22 October 2010

The draft second integrated resource plan, or IRP2010, is unlikely to receive universal acclaim and even its drafters will acknowledge that errs far more on the side of pragmatism than on perfection.

There will certainly be deep unhappiness in some quarters about the fact that a decision on nuclear has been placed on the “critical path” for early 2011. There will also be disquiet over what can only be perceived as a slower-than-anticipated build-up of renewables, which truly only begins to gain traction from 2016 – the 1 025 MW of immediate renewable capacity outlined in the IRP1 notwithstanding.

No doubt, these anxieties, and more, will be expressed during the upcoming public hearings, which the Department of Energy (DoE) has requested the National Energy Regulator of South Africa to convene.

The DoE confirmed on Friday that the comment period for written submissions on the draft would be extended by 30 days to December 10, 2010 and also announced that the public hearings would begin in Durban on November 26, before moving to Cape Town on November 29, and then to Johannesburg on December 2 and 3.

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‘SA should reduce carbon emissions from road transport – Cronin’

Engineering News, 26 October 2010

Removing excess road use and improving efficiencies on South Africa’s roads seems to be the most viable option to reduce the transport sector’s carbon emissions in the short term.

Transport is the fastest growing emitter of greenhouse gases in South Africa, contributing to about one fifth of the country’s emissions, second only to its dependence on coal-fired power stations.

In addition to the negative environmental effects, the excessive use of the country’s roads also has a negative economic impact, with about R15-million a day lost due to congestion.

Speaking at a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) future of transport convention in Johannesburg, Transport Deputy Minister Jeremy Cronin said that the country was suffering from a dysfunctional and inefficient transport system, brought on mainly by the urban sprawl.

The urban sprawl has lead to a number of challenges, including over exaggerated peaks. “Large fleets are needed to move people to and from work, while this fleet is then left idle afterwards. Consequently, government finds it difficult to sweat its assets, such as the 800 new Rea Vaya busses that was recently brought onstream.”

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Stockholm Resilience Centre: Research for Governance of Social-Ecological Systems

‘The Stockholm Resilience Centre is an international centre that advances transdisciplinary research for governance of social-ecological systems with a special emphasis on resilience – the ability to deal with change and continue to develop.

The Stockholm Resilience Centre was established on 1 January 2007.
It is a joint initiative between Stockholm University, the Stockholm Environment Institute and the Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics at The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The centre is funded by the Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research, Mistra.

The Centre for Transdisciplinary Environmental Research (CTM) at Stockholm University and The Baltic Nest Institute (former MARE) are also part of the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

The FORMAS-provided project Resilience and Sustainability: Integrated Research on Social-Ecological Systems, is an acknowledgement of Stockholm Resilience Centre also being a Swedish Centre of Excellence.’

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‘Polycentric systems for coping with collective action and global environmental change’

Abstract:  The 20th anniversary issue of Global Environmental Change provides an important opportunity to address the core questions involved in addressing “global environmental” problems—especially those related to climate change. Climate change is a global collective-action problem since all of us face the likelihood of extremely adverse outcomes that could be reduced if many participants take expensive actions. Conventional collective-action theory predicts that these problems will not be solved unless an external authority determines appropriate actions to be taken, monitors behavior, and imposes sanctions. Debating about global efforts to solve climate-change problems, however, has yet not led to an effective global treaty. Fortunately, many activities can be undertaken by multiple units at diverse scales that cumulatively make a difference. I argue that instead of focusing only on global efforts (which are indeed a necessary part of the long-term solution), it is better to encourage polycentric efforts to reduce the risks associated with the emission of greenhouse gases. Polycentric approaches facilitate achieving benefits at multiple scales as well as experimentation and learning from experience with diverse policies.

Full Citation: Ostrom, E. (2010). Polycentric Systems for Coping with Collective Action and Global Environmental Change, Global Environmental Change, Vol. 20 (4): 550-557 (Available with subscription from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=PublicationURL&_tockey=%23TOC%236020%232010%23999799995%232518746%23FLA%23&_cdi=6020&_pubType=J&view=c&_auth=y&_acct=C000033878&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=635696&md5=3a4d15915c874a8153d2c97bb0fc8ab6).


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