The Pollution Of Power

The Pollution Of Power

IT is rare that a brief newspaper article encapsulates so much in so few words as the article ‘Penalise the Polluters’ (The Namibian 06/11/07 – generally confirmed by New Era of same date).

The Prime Minister was opening a four-day course on strategy for UNDP officials from Africa (also NBC news). Well, I always thought that the Government was based on the principle of “government by the people for the people”; it seems I was wrong.We obviously do not mention publicly the guilty parties, the big polluters, even though everyone knows who they are (US, China, India, EU, Russia).Why? Perhaps the guilty ones are those with whom we have cosy and financially conditional arrangements.Diplomatic “cuddle speak” and economic nicety appear to take priority over climatic change, which our Government is of the opinion is likely to cause significant negative impact to our nation (Konjore – NBC news 06/11/07).The dilemma is in the article title – and how to get a double whammy, to keep receiving current benefits from the “guilty” and at the same time promote a penalistic policy towards our benefactors, the one and same.Interesting, and should put the UN strategists into a creative mood! Attracting funding (as opposed to investment) from outside seems to be one of our prime aims and is certainly one of Namibia’s strengths.”Pursuing such a green agenda will be greatly enhanced by an international community that appreciates the need for adaptation to climate change and the need to exploit green energy resources”.(The Namibian 06/11/07, PM).At the last count Namibia was a member of that international community.And this is where the rhetoric and the practice diverge.As Angula stated, Namibia “is in a good position to turn to green energy – sun, wind, hydro and gas” – maybe he could have added biomass, uranium and thermal sources, but our planning, actions and future ambitions seem to contradict.The consequences of power planning strategies are self-evident to Windhoek residents; our current actions have Namibia’s twins pumping out black smoke five days a week! Thus the planning process is significantly flawed – and not helped by the ECB chairman’s statement that “electricity should not be taken for granted,” (New Era 15/10/07).Sorry guys, the reason electricity is treated as a public good with close government control is so Namibians can take it for granted! Future plans: Luederitz wind power and the recycling of sea-borne fuel slops both seem good.The latter, with its 68 MW/210 MW potential, does raise the argument whether a little further cleaning would make it suitable for use by road / rail transport – the volumes indicated are phenomenal! Import substitution? But preventing pollution on the high seas is good and wind power is fine – just remember at peak load times in Luederitz the wind quietens down on occasions! The price agreements will make interesting reading.But it is the reference that “the regulatory body is further processing three additional licences for coal power stations.One company hopes to generate 400 megawatts while the other will go for 700 megawatts and the third, 800 megawatts” (New Era 15/10/07) that raises concern.The concern is that despite fairly modern and more efficient combustion technology (fluidised combustion and pulverised fuel) there remains the problem of carbon dioxide emissions unless serious chemical scrubbing is practiced.A costly and thus price-determining process! But while such emissions would cast doubt on our political sincerity as a nation to act responsibly in regard to our Kyoto commitments, in practice such emissions would be miniscule in comparison to the “big polluters” – Africa causes about 4 per cent of world emissions and produces 3 per cent of world electricity (Electricity Prices and the Fuel Function, Geolnvestor.com).What is of concern is our constant deviation from the use of local resources and the resort to imports – of energy sources and thus increasing exposure to the inevitable rising energy costs when we have, as the PM stated, the wherewithal in Namibia.Policies of import substitution, value addition to our resources, job creation, environmental concern, domestic investment, international commitments and pro-poor policies go out the window as a sacrifice to the magic of large numbers! After all, on the time scales envisaged, spending large amounts on Kudu power should be compared with the use of our hydro resources in the north – the enormous potential referred to by Angula.Sell the gas and gain expanding financial benefits – and have hydropower.Unfortunately the ECB seems to live an isolated existence amidst its opulence, insulated by its battery of consultants, pending reports and its 0.05c/ kWh levy; it obviously has not heard of emissions, Kyoto and the environment.Or even worse, has.After all we can keep blaming every one else until the environment goes pear shaped – we will all sink then together and I will be long gone! Think global, act local – just another slogan to launch.But as the PM says – you pollute, you pay.How about the reverse – you do not pollute, we pay.Incentive rather than a good hiding? Let’s use Namibian resources.It is all in the price per unit – that closely guarded state secret! What is the cost of not having a kWh of electricity? Maybe a few freezers full of meat and some warm beer in remote areas? Government by the government for the government.What happened to openness and accountability – just more nugatory rhetoric? After all, NamPower is still sitting with N$1.6 billion we hope! Chris Smith csmith@mweb.com.naWell, I always thought that the Government was based on the principle of “government by the people for the people”; it seems I was wrong.We obviously do not mention publicly the guilty parties, the big polluters, even though everyone knows who they are (US, China, India, EU, Russia).Why? Perhaps the guilty ones are those with whom we have cosy and financially conditional arrangements.Diplomatic “cuddle speak” and economic nicety appear to take priority over climatic change, which our Government is of the opinion is likely to cause significant negative impact to our nation (Konjore – NBC news 06/11/07).The dilemma is in the article title – and how to get a double whammy, to keep receiving current benefits from the “guilty” and at the same time promote a penalistic policy towards our benefactors, the one and same.Interesting, and should put the UN strategists into a creative mood! Attracting funding (as opposed to investment) from outside seems to be one of our prime aims and is certainly one of Namibia’s strengths.”Pursuing such a green agenda will be greatly enhanced by an international community that appreciates the need for adaptation to climate change and the need to exploit green energy resources”.(The Namibian 06/11/07, PM).At the last count Namibia was a member of that international community.And this is where the rhetoric and the practice diverge.As Angula stated, Namibia “is in a good position to turn to green energy – sun, wind, hydro and gas” – maybe he could have added biomass, uranium and thermal sources, but our planning, actions and future ambitions seem to contradict.The consequences of power planning strategies are self-evident to Windhoek residents; our current actions have Namibia’s twins pumping out black smoke five days a week! Thus the planning process is significantly flawed – and not helped by the ECB chairman’s statement that “electricity should not be taken for granted,” (New Era 15/10/07).Sorry guys, the reason electricity is treated as a public good with close government control is so Namibians can take it for granted! Future plans: Luederitz wind power and the recycling of sea-borne fuel slops both seem good.The latter, with its 68 MW/210 MW potential, does raise the argument whether a little further cleaning would make it suitable for use by road / rail transport – the volumes indicated are phenomenal! Import substitution? But preventing pollution on the high seas is good and wind power is fine – just remember at peak load times in Luederitz the wind quietens down on occasions! Th
e price agreements will make interesting reading.But it is the reference that “the regulatory body is further processing three additional licences for coal power stations.One company hopes to generate 400 megawatts while the other will go for 700 megawatts and the third, 800 megawatts” (New Era 15/10/07) that raises concern.The concern is that despite fairly modern and more efficient combustion technology (fluidised combustion and pulverised fuel) there remains the problem of carbon dioxide emissions unless serious chemical scrubbing is practiced.A costly and thus price-determining process! But while such emissions would cast doubt on our political sincerity as a nation to act responsibly in regard to our Kyoto commitments, in practice such emissions would be miniscule in comparison to the “big polluters” – Africa causes about 4 per cent of world emissions and produces 3 per cent of world electricity (Electricity Prices and the Fuel Function, Geolnvestor.com).What is of concern is our constant deviation from the use of local resources and the resort to imports – of energy sources and thus increasing exposure to the inevitable rising energy costs when we have, as the PM stated, the wherewithal in Namibia.Policies of import substitution, value addition to our resources, job creation, environmental concern, domestic investment, international commitments and pro-poor policies go out the window as a sacrifice to the magic of large numbers! After all, on the time scales envisaged, spending large amounts on Kudu power should be compared with the use of our hydro resources in the north – the enormous potential referred to by Angula.Sell the gas and gain expanding financial benefits – and have hydropower.Unfortunately the ECB seems to live an isolated existence amidst its opulence, insulated by its battery of consultants, pending reports and its 0.05c/ kWh levy; it obviously has not heard of emissions, Kyoto and the environment.Or even worse, has.After all we can keep blaming every one else until the environment goes pear shaped – we will all sink then together and I will be long gone! Think global, act local – just another slogan to launch.But as the PM says – you pollute, you pay.How about the reverse – you do not pollute, we pay.Incentive rather than a good hiding? Let’s use Namibian resources.It is all in the price per unit – that closely guarded state secret! What is the cost of not having a kWh of electricity? Maybe a few freezers full of meat and some warm beer in remote areas? Government by the government for the government.What happened to openness and accountability – just more nugatory rhetoric? After all, NamPower is still sitting with N$1.6 billion we hope! Chris Smith csmith@mweb.com.na

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