IF WE CAN link Refit with electrical motorcars – then we could really be onto something. Speaking to The Herald yesterday (June 14 2011), department of environmental affairs deputy-director general for climate change, Peter Lukey, said the scheduled launch this month of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff (Refit), will likely lead to significant positive change.
The Refit launch was revealed last week at the Eastern Cape Climate Change Conference in East London by department of energy deputy director-general Ompie Alphane. The programme revolves around private entrepreneurs being able to generate renewable “green” energy to sell to the Eskom grid, to off-set the coal-fired power supplied by the parastatal.
Lukey said the programme had excellent prospects.
“It can make a dramatic contribution.
“But, alone, it is not a silver bullet.
“If we could link it to supplying electricity for the roll out of electric vehicles, and link that in turn to public transport – then we could really be onto something.”
In so doing, this solution would simultaneously be cutting across two of the worst contributors to CO2 emissions and climate change, coal-fired power stations and transport, he explained.
Lukey had high praise for the conference, which was organised by the provincial department of economic development and environmental affairs. The indaba helped broaden debate on climate change to include a much wider range of role players and not just negotiators and scientists, he said.
South Africa is supporting the climate change goal pinpointed by most nations, to aim for a post-industrial revolution temperature rise of “not more than 2° C”, which has been identified as the threshold for major climate change meltdown.
With South Africa’s white paper on climate change set to go before Parliament next month and the country set to host the world in December at the UN COP17 climate change negotiations in Durban, it is not clear if this goal is achievable, he said.
“Let us hope so. But my personal feeling is that we have just got to get ourselves prepared and set for the right target and, as we go into this new era, as we come to our senses, we will find ourselves overtaking even our highest expectations. Tightening the target right now really makes no difference.”
Jaco van Loggerenberg, spokesman for Cape Town-based Optimal Energy, the designer of South Africa’s prototype Joule electric motor car, told The Herald he agreed the cross-over of green energy into transport had great potential.
The first four Joules were manufactured in Port Elizabeth in 2009 and the company is targeting the East London IDZ for the manufacture of its production line, with the roll-out of 50000 starting in 2015.
The Joule will run off a battery with a three-prong plug attachment that will simply charging from any electrical source, he said
“Your Refit suppliers or anyone generating their own green energy would therefore quite easily and directly be able to charge their vehicle or vehicles.
“For other Joule owners in the wider community, the technical details would need to be worked out – but there is great potential for them to be linked up as well in this way.”
Van Loggerenberg said that while Optimal Energy is not focused on public transport, there are models for electric buses and trains that are already being successfully used overseas, and they too could be linked up with a green power supply.