Awil Xabadiya’s Opinionista articleSignificant changes in the supply of coal are not an option for South Africa.”(Daily Maverick, (December 1, 2021) From the Department of Minerals and Energy (although he writes “in his own capacity”). Slipping on NGOs, sociologists, and other non-engineers is an unbearable dilemma in the matter of power supply, and is crowned with the slogan “Silence of Engineers”… You grew up in the Soviet Union. ?

I have 40 years of experience in many countries, especially in international university courses in postgraduate, Norway – energy planning and sustainable development. At least I do not support nuclear weapons because of corruption and mismanagement, but most of all, it is far more expensive and far less expensive. Mr. Xabadiya’s article contains many complaints and accusations, but there is no discussion of all the basic basic installation options. He waved the “engineering” flag as a whip, but did not mention engineering options. A few short points:

  • Forget pure coal. Carcass capture and storage (CCS) is still very expensive and only works for major emission sources, in suitable geological regions – so it can provide up to 10% of the “carbon solution” (World Bank image) in any case.
  • We are not coal, but gas, but if the world wants to help us get rid of coal, gas can play a role, because gas in general is much less harmful than coal, in the process it is medium to low or zero refined carbon;
  • In South Africa the wind and the sun are seasonal – most winds are in high demand during the winter, and in some areas sunny winters make Gauteng, for example, ideal for practical solar buildings. Therefore, in the annual cycle, these also help to reduce the base load to some extent.
  • It can be economical to produce hydrogen during both wind and sun, which can be stored and part of a foundation load;
  • Mr. Xabadiya’s energy perspectives do not seem to contain a single word about energy saving and energy saving (the two are not the same). Reducing energy demand is often cheaper than building a new energy capacity – and it creates a lot of jobs. Of course, energy-saving programs are being implemented, but from a global perspective, demand-side reductions are still largely unnoticed and costly. Including in our service;
  • At the very least, there is huge potential in the field of bio energy. In many regions, energy crops can grow in large quantities that do not compete with food production (as ethanol-to-gasoline often does in the United States). There is also the potential for marine biomass. The point here is that bio-energy – like fuel – can be stored and therefore can be part of the foundation load. Many bio-energy solutions are integrated heat and energy (CHP). Therefore, in some countries, bio energy can in many ways be a major component of future infrastructure. This is one way to completely eliminate accumulated fossils. Surprisingly, the government’s bio-economic publications do not mention bio-energy.
  • Bio economics is one of the global terms today, but it does not seem to have entered our energy sector. The bio economy encompasses energy, but equally, includes new industrial products such as biopolymers. They are replacing plastics from cell phones to building materials to car parts. This requires a policy of integrated industrial production and energy production; And
  • The bio economy offers the opportunity to create thousands of green jobs – one thing Cyril Ramaphosa may be more focused on than Gwede Mantashe. It does not make nuclear weapons. Either breakage or coal mining does not work when it is automated. What do we offer our future coal miners? An interesting point about bioeconomics works for South Africa, they are regional and many do not require high skills.

Finally, Mr. Xabadiya does not seem to be up to date. It is universally recognized that energy is social, not technical. Describing NGOs and civil society organizations as “obstacles” is arrogant and sadly wrong. Of course, there are some brutal irrationals – but I know a few engineers who irritate irrational promoters. Behind the “engineers” or “technicians” is a well-known and old defensive line. Or it could be called bullying.

Regarding those who misuse the courts… So, let’s hope that the courts do not need it when our Ministry of Energy gets involved in all the looting of coal from South Africa…

So, let’s stop scratching our fingers and talk about sustainable, job-friendly, people-friendly, non-governmental organizations-friendly energy futures, please. DM

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