Workshop on Climate Change and Renewable Energy Programme

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Mineral Resources and Energy

28 August 2001
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Meeting report


This Report is a Contact Natural Resource Information Service
Taking Parliament to People, and People to Parliament

The aim of this report is to summarise the main events at the meeting and identify the key role players. This report is not a verbatim transcript of proceedings.

28 AUGUST 2001

Documents handed out:
1.Workshop on Climate Change and Renewable Energy Programme (Annexure 1)

2. South Africa’s situation relating to climate change and energy (Harald Winkler)
3. Climate change and global warming – South African government response (Festus Luboyera)
4. Energy and Climate Change (Sandile Tyatya)
5. Overview of the Strategy for the Implementation of Renewable Energy in South Africa (Khosi Lisa)
6. SouthSouthNorth – south initiated & developed CDM projects (Steve Thorne)
7. Climate Change Research in South Africa – Powerpoint (Martin de Wit)
Climate Change Research in South Africa – Document (Martin de Wit)
8. Mitigating Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Energy Supply in South Africa (Mark Howells)
9. Climate Change and Renewable Energy – Capacity Building, Gender and Climate Change (Shomenthree Moodley)
10. The PBMR, Nuclear Power and Climate Change (Thomas Auf der Heyde)
11. Harvesting the Wind in South Africa (Hermann Oelsner)
12. The Challenges for Renewable Energy Businesses in SA (Glynn Morris)

Chairpersons: Mr. D Nkosi and Ms. G L Mahlangu

The workshop focused on climate change, the importance of the debate for South Africa and the various options for mitigating climate change. Presentations were made by academics, government departments and other parties. Committee Members were given opportunities to comment and ask questions. For a complete list of presenters, refer to the workshop outline.

Mr D Nkosi (ANC) the Chairperson stated that the workshop was a joint venture with the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs and Tourism and added that the responsibility for chairing the meeting would be shared. He proceeded by asking the first presenter to begin.

Introduction to Climate Change
Professor Davidson (Energy & Development Research Centre, University of Cape Town) presented on the science of climate change and the international response and negotiating process. He argued that climate change was an issue that transcends boundaries between science, policy and politics. Scientists knew about greenhouse effect over 100 years ago, but only in 1987 was the need to assess its impacts realized. Greenhouse debate today centred around the issue of reducing emissions of CO2 which was the main culprit. Professor Davidson continued and gave a brief history of the negotiations. On the situation faced by Africa, Professor Davidson expressed that Africa was most vulnerable in the world. This was because Africa, although not a major contributor to the greenhouse effect, the population suffer the consequences equally and no mechanisms existed to compensate Africa. He commented that although we could not stop the effects of the greenhouse effect, we could mitigate it by altering the rate at which things were going bad. Energy efficiency was the key to these mitigation measures. Professor Davidson argued that there was link between sustainable development and climate change issues; they have a synergetic relationship and tackling one issue has benefits for both. He concluded the presentation by providing a picture of the current trends in negotiations. He expressed that the negotiations were political compromises and still needed to be translated into legal text. He concluded however, stating that this was an important step since agreement was necessary before taking action.

Mr Nkosi thanked Professor Davidson and asked for the next presenter to begin.

Mr Harald Winkler (Energy & Development Research Centre, University of Cape Town) presented on South Africa’s situation relating to climate change and energy. He explained the sources of emissions in South Africa and compared them to other countries. In comparison to other countries, South Africa did not fare well. Mr Winkler proceeded to offer negative or low cost measures that could be implemented in the residential sector to use energy more efficiently. He predicted a reduction in demand for coal as industrialised countries switch from coal to gas and expressed that South Africa would suffer if this happened. Mr Winkler suggested changing the fuel mix to increase use of renewable energy sources, changing the economic structure by investing in other sectors and increasing energy efficiency as ways to reduce national emissions. He also stressed the importance of linkages between sustainable development and climate change. He added that climate change funding mechanisms were available and that South Africa needed to take advantage of these mechanisms. In conclusion, he suggested that South Africa was in a difficult position and should take a proactive stance on climate change.

Mr Nkosi expressed satisfaction with the approach the presentations had taken and although there would not be enough time for debate, invited Committee Members to comment and ask questions.

Mr I Davidson (DP) referring to Mr Winkler’s presentation, commented on the absence of nuclear energy and asked what role nuclear energy could play in sustainable development strategies.

Professor Davidson replied by touching on the cost and waste disposal issues. He stated that nuclear industry was not economically viable and added that in other countries it was subsidised and could not exist without these subsidies. He gave examples of the nuclear industry in the United Kingdom collapsing when it became privatised as an illustration of the fact that the industry could not exist without subsidies. He added that there was also the issue of waste disposal and impacts of accidents that could cause severe damages (even if they are low in incidence).

Ms J A Semple (DP) referring to Mr Winkler’s presentation expressed concern over "perverse incentives" South Africa could have in attracting energy inefficient industry if emissions reduction measures took effect in the industrialised countries.

Mr Winkler stated that there was potential for South Africa to benefit, but agreed that it was perverse to consider making South Africa more dependent on energy inefficient industry by attracting the "dirty industry" of the industrialised world.

Ms C M P Ramotsamai (ANC) asked for elaboration on the conflict that existed between profits and environment.

Professor Davidson responded by stating that there was not always conflict between environmental protection/preservation and profit making. He stated that there were some businessmen in Kyoto who saw opportunities. While businessmen were divided on the issue, some saw opportunities for profit even with emissions control. He further stated that no country should accept businessmen who had no interest in environmental responsibility.

Professor I. Mohamed (ANC) referring to Mr Winkler’s presentation on negative or low cost options for mitigation in housing, asked for an elaboration on the negative costs figures.

Mr Winkler responded by elaborating on the figures in his presentation. He stated that although resources would have to be invested to make the house more energy efficient, the house would cost less to warm and stated that the negative costs came over the lifecycle of the house.

Mr J. Lucas (ANC) stated that he was pleased with the Committee having this debate and commented on page three of Mr Winkler’s presentation which compared South Africa’s emissions problem with that of other countries. He believed that South Africa would run the risk of failing to fix the cause of the emissions problem if it tried to compete with other countries. In addition, he expressed concern over the under-utilisation of coal in South Africa since the high quality coal was exported instead of put to domestic use.

Mr Nkosi closed the debate and asked for the next presenter to begin.

South Africa’s Position on Climate Change

Mr Festus Luboyera (Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT)) presented on the South African government response to climate change and global warming. He stated that, in addition to commitments to promote climate change issues, South Africa was in the process of releasing first drafts of documents to meet its commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). He revealed the South African negotiating strategy to be one of alignment with Africa and the G77 and China Groups and stated that climate change was considered in view of domestic priorities and mechanisms would be supplemental to domestic action. Although South Africa was highly dependent on coal for energy, the potential of clean development mechanisms were recognised. In terms of institutional capacity, Mr Luboyera listed the various institutions that had been established to advance climate change issues. On the issue of donor funding, he stated that South Africa was in a good position for financial assistance and currently received funding from various agencies. Lastly, he listed the activities of DEAT in furthering the climate change issue on the domestic and international fronts. In conclusion, he stated that, although there was room for improvement, South Africa was striving to fulfill its commitments under he UNFCC and acknowledged the need to strengthen capacity.

Mr Nkosi recommended that since the following presentation by the Department of Minerals and Energy would be similar to the DEAT presentation, comments and questions for the two presentations be discussed together.

DME Position on Climate Change

Mr Sandile Tyatya (Department of Minerals and Energy (DME)) presented the DME position on energy and climate change. He stated that the key mandate was to satisfy energy demand. The other important issues in the energy policy were energy security and sustainable development. Looking at South Africa’s energy sector, he pointed out that South Africa was heavily dependent on fossil fuels and stated that certain Articles of the Kyoto Protocol would have adverse effects on South Africa. Therefore, South Africa should take a proactive approach and promote energy for sustainable development, clean coal technologies, changes to energy mix, energy efficiency and energy savings. In conclusion, Mr Tyatya discussed Clean Development Mechanisms (CMB) as a path towards emissions reduction. He stated that CBM would provide an investment opportunity and would put South Africa in a position to develop the skills needed for overall development.

Mr Nkosi, asked what efforts had been made to ensure participation at national and international levels and invited comments and questions from other members. No direct response was tendered.

Mr E K Moorcroft (DP) asked if there was any intention of replacing coal with nuclear energy in order to reduce coal dependence or was nuclear energy to be a supplementary to coal.

Mr Tyatya responded that nuclear energy replacing coal in the future was unlikely since coal was an affordable source of energy.

Ms J Chalmers (ANC) asked who would be responsible for the new forms of legislation and policy.

Mr Luboyera responded that DEAT was keen to ensure a focal point for Departments to understand the climate change issues so that they could incorporate climate change in all aspects of their operations.

Ms R A Ndzanga (ANC) expressed unease towards the outcry regarding nuclear energy. She stated that poor people in rural areas were the ones who lived without energy and she asked what needed to be done for the big powers to feel comfortable using nuclear energy to provide power to the poor.

Mr Tyatya responded that the issue was ensuring an integrated supply of energy to satisfy the energy needs of all South Africans and broadening the basket and mix of energy sources would be key.

Mr R K September (ANC) stated that there was little attention being given to solar energy. He argued that while solar energy was capital intensive - there was a need to ensure that it became affordable by ensuring international cooperation.

Mr Sigwela (Parliament Member) offered his observation that there was a lack of communication between DEAT, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF). He stated that the Departments should all be part of the discussion.

Mr Luboyera responded that there was a section on water affairs in the South African Climate Change Country Studies, so the relevant issues were being addressed and stated that DEAT had strong links with DWAF.

Mr Nkosi closed the discussion and stated that there were future presentations to the Committee at which there would be opportunity for discussion and debate. He asked the next presenter to begin.

Renewable Energy Strategy

Ms Lisa Khosi (DME) gave an overview of the South African strategy for the implementation of renewable energy. The government’s objectives were ensuring economically feasible technologies, investing equitable level of resources in renewable energies and addressing constraints on the development of the renewable energy sector. The Energy Policy had guidelines for renewable energy and had set targets to increase renewable energy use. The aim of the implementation strategy was to integrate renewable energy resources into the main energy economy by employing measures such as fund support and institutional support for manufacturers, investors and consumers. The Department’s Renewable Energy Action Plan included implementation of Solar Passive Building Design, a National Solar Water Heating Programme, promoting wind energy, a Solar Cooker Programme, a National Public Education, Training and Marketing, Biomass and Biogas Programmes, activating rural economies, and finally, research and development. In conclusion, Ms Khosi emphasised the importance of strengthening the programme on women and energy.

Mr Nkosi asked Committee Members for comments and questions.

Mr Davidson stated that cost was the crucial factor and a cost benefit analysis of using renewable energy was not mentioned in the presentations. He suggested that it needed to be brought into the debate. He also questioned whether the five percent renewable energy use goal was realisable.

Ms Khosi responded that the five percent target was realisable and stated that if it were not reached, evaluating the reasons for its failure would be a learning process. She added that targets were only a benchmark for the country to aspire to.

Mr J. Nash (ANC) stated that South Africa was already on the way to achieving the 5% target for renewable energy. He gave examples in the flagstaff region of the Eastern Cape where photo-voltaics were being used to generate energy. He added that since 25% of South Africans would never get energy, there was a need to use alternative energy.

Mr Nkosi suggested that follow-ups be organised for the Department to account to the Committee and asked for the next presenter to begin.

Local Climate Change Projects

Mr Steve Thorne (SouthSouthNorth Project) presented on Local Climate Change Projects. His presentation was based on the SouthSouthNorth (SSN) project - a southern initiated and developed CDM project. The SSN project involved five countries and its mission was to make the CDM work with sustainable development in mind. Mr Thorne covered the project’s selection methodology. Some of the project selection criteria were energy projects, real and measurable benefits, contributions to sustainable development and feasibility. With these criteria in mind, potential projects would be rated and the top projects selected. In South Africa, the top five projects were selected based on these criteria. The projects selected were: landfill gas in Bellville, Cape Town; low-cost urban housing upgrade in Khayelitsha, Cape Town; emissions reductions in rural hamlets in the Stellenbosch District; Mondi Papermill energy efficiency upgrade in Merebank, Durban; and a nationwide lighting business plan. For these top candidates, Mr Thorne discussed the owners and stakeholders, economics of the baseline and alternatives, co-benefits of the projects and the case for CDM investment. He concluded by detailing what the next steps should be and emphasised that institutional infrastructure in the national government needed to attract CDM investment.

Research on Climate Change in South Africa

Mr Martin de Wit (CSIR) presented on the research on climate change in South Africa. He elaborated on the meaning of climate change research. He stated that there had been a 40 – 50% increase in research activity. He identified the key climate change issues for South Africa as being: adverse effects on ecosystems, human health and welfare; adverse effects on the economy; Kyoto Protocol mechanisms; technology transfer; land use and forestry; capacity building; and policy development. In evaluating the value of the research, he put forward that adverse effects on the environment constituted a major portion of the research. In conclusion, he stated that the research in South Africa was driven by compliance to UNFCC and noted that there was increasing pro-activity.

Mr. Nkosi asked whether the existing institutions were doing what was needed.

Mr de Wit responded that of the list of issues given, a number of institutions were conducting research in those areas and stated that in terms of research, South Africa had almost caught-up.

Mr September commented that this discussion on climate change did not belong just to South Africa and stated that it should be discussed at least with other Southern African countries.

Mr Nkosi pointed out that the use of scarce resources to maximize results was the key. He commended the work of the SSN project and asked what was being done to make sure that the use of resources was maximised.

At this time, Mr Nkosi handed over responsibility for chairing the meeting to Ms Mahlangu.

Ms G Mahlangu (ANC) as Chairperson asked for clarity on the rationale for providing industrialised countries with cheaper options out of their obligations. She added that emissions reduction should be driven by developing countries and asked if the resources to do this existed. She also said that participation of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) was important and stated that ways must be found to make sure the region was engaged.

Professor Davidson responded to the question of providing industrialized countries with cheap options out of their obligations by stating that mechanisms such as the CDM could be beneficial for Africa. By focusing on high cost projects, CDM could be used to finance sustainable development while emissions of the industrialised countries were reduced.

Ms Mahlangu closed the discussion and asked the next presenter to begin.

Energy Supply Emissions and Mitigation Options

Mr M Howells (Energy Research Institute, University of Cape Town) presented on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from energy supply in South Africa with a focus on bulk energy supply and use. He started by providing a greenhouse gas inventory and stated that data on energy consumption was very poor and in urgent need of attention. He discussed the various options for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from the energy supply sector. As mitigating options for the electricity industry, he provided the advantages and disadvantages of generation from coal, gas, nuclear power, hydroelectricity, wind and solar power and discussed the possibilities for future generation or importation. As mitigating options for oil, he listed importing the finished product, shifting from coal-to-oil to gas-to-oil, and improving storage of crude oil. As mitigating options for coal, he listed more efficient mining, combustion of methane and extraction of methane. Lastly, he discussed reducing energy demand and stated that increased energy efficiency or management were realisable and could reduce demand. In conclusion, Mr Howells emphasised the need to create an enabling environment for industry and put forward some warnings on trade implications and the possibility that CDM might be used to subsidise Annexure 1 countries.

Ms Mahlangu stated that due to time constraints the presentations needed to be brief and asked the next presenter to begin.

Capacity Building and Gender in Relation to Climate Change

Ms Shomenthree Moodley (Minerals and Energy Policy Centre) presented on capacity building, gender and climate change. She acknowledged that the participation of women was being recognized as a key component in climate change issues. However, women and men participated unequally, with women benefiting less and suffering more of the adverse effects of energy projects. Ms Moodley suggested that what needed to be done was to shift the focus from women to adopting a broader gender approach. She argued that gender issues in the energy sector were complex and multi-faceted and should be addressed from all levels including decision making, policy and regulation, financing, awareness raising and capacity building to service delivery. In conclusion, Ms Moodley stated that progressive gender sensitive policies and capacity building should recognise and acknowledge the division of labour and the differing energy needs of men and women and the impact that it would have on climate change.

Mr Nkosi agreed with the presenter that gender related both to men and women and asked what should happen to create a balance, and in particular, what could men do to complement what women already do.

Ms Moodley responded that the focus of energy policy was on men and this could reduce the future capacity of women. Therefore, to mitigate the situation, more women needed to be involved in discussions and decision making processes.

Ms N Lamani (ANC) expressed concern for women energy users and asked how rural women could be empowered to know about energy efficiency.

Ms N Shope (ANC), in exploring ways of reaching rural women, suggested that radio programmes in the local languages would be an extremely powerful tool.

Ms Moodely responded that one of the national government’s development objectives was awareness and education.

Ms D. Motubatse stated that climate change would affect mostly women and expressed that follow-up discussions on the issue were needed.

Ms Mahlangu accepted the comments and asked the next presenter to begin.

Nuclear Energy in the Context of Climate Change

Mr T Auf der Heyde (Research Development Unit, Wits Technikon) presented on nuclear energy in the context of climate change. He stated that the nuclear power industry was in crisis because the pressurized water reactor (PWR) had not passed market tests and fast breeder technology was discredited because of accidents. He suggested that high temperature reactors (HTR) had intrinsic advantages and had been subject of research and development. He added that unfortunately, HTR had a poor international record and its development had been largely abandoned. The key issues in nuclear energy had been their feasibility, reliability and marketability. In discussing the economics of nuclear power, he discussed the impacts electricity liberalisation would have on nuclear power, the cost structure of nuclear power and the overhead costs associated with nuclear power. In conclusion, he expressed the need for a dispassionate and independent review of nuclear power.

Ms Mahlangu announced a tea break and upon returning stated that due to time constraints, the priority was going to be given to presentations rather than discussion and asked the next presenter to begin.

Wind Energy
Mr H Oelsner (South African Wind Energy Association) presented on wind energy in South Africa. He began by listing the renewable energy sources. He stated that cost was the key factor in selecting a renewable energy source and added that solar, wind, wave/tidal and hydropower were similar in cost. However, he stated that wind was the most readily available and suited to the natural environment of South Africa. He gave the Darling National Demonstration Windfarm Project as an illustration for the use of wind energy. Besides energy, the other spin-offs from the Darling Windfarm would be employment, revenue from increased visitors, the establishment of training and education centre and the raising of awareness about wind energy. In terms of costs, Mr Oelsner provided a cost comparison of coal and wind energy and stated that overall wind energy was cheaper. In conclusion, he stated that wind energy was a clean sustainable and safe source of energy.

Ms Mahlangu thanked Mr. Oelsner and asked the next presenter to begin.

Challenges Faced by Renewable Energy Businesses in South Africa

Mr G Morris (AGAMA Energy) presented on the challenges for renewable energy businesses in South Africa. He began by giving a brief picture of the status of the renewable energy sector in South Africa as a promising, but forgotten sector. He stated that where there was demand and resources for renewable energy, there would be capacity. He proceeded to discuss the nature of the renewable energy sector and the players that provided renewable energy. He continued by discussing the difficulties faced by the renewable energy sector and stated that White Paper commitments to renewable energy were in need of implementation and added that monopolistic thinking around energy needed to be abandoned and the playing field leveled. In conclusion, Mr Morris offered proposals for solution, which included implementation of specific programmes.

Ms Mahlangu declared it a fruitful day for both Committees and stated that it was a relationship they should have started previously. She hoped that the dialogue would continue.

Mr. Nkosi thanked all who attended and closed the meeting.


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Appendix 1


Committee Room E249, Parliament
28 August 2001

8:45 Opening & Welcome – Duma Nkosi

9:00 Introduction to Climate Change – Harald Winkler / Prof Davidson, EDRC
* Science of Climate Change
* International response and negotiating process
* Impact on Africa and South Africa

10:15 Tea

10:30 South Africa’s position on Climate Change – Festus Luboyera, DEAT

11:00 DME Position on Climate Change – Sandile Tyatya, DME

11:30 Renewable Energy Strategy – Khosi Lisa, DME

12:00 Local Climate Change Projects – Steve Thorne

12:30 Research on Climate Change in South Africa – Martin de Wit, CSIR

13:00 Lunch

13:45 Energy Supply Emissions and Mitigation options – Mark Howells, ERI

14:00 Capacity Building and Gender in relation to Climate Change – S Moodley, MEPC

14:30 Nuclear Energy in the context of Climate Change – Thomas Auf der Heyde, Research Development Unit, Wits Technikon (Globe SA)

15:00 Wind Energy – H Oelsner, SAWEA

15:30 The Challenges faced by renewable energy businesses in South Africa – Glyn Morris, Director of Agama Energy (Globe SA)

16:00 Closure


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