Monthly Archives: January 2012

South Africa moving towards renewable energy

South Africa is ready to make its mark in the renewable energy sector. The World Bank has recently granted a $250-million (R1.5- billion) loan through its Clean Technology Fund to South African power utility names Eskom;

the companies’ goal is to help the country to reduce its reliance on coal-based power generation and depend more on renewable energy. Eskom will be developing a wind and solar plant, namely; a 100 megawatt solar power plant in Upington with is in the North Cape Province and also a 100-megwatt wind power project, which is in the Western Cape just north of Cape Town.
These two renewable energy projects will be the largest that have ever been attempted in the entire African continent. Eskom predicts that the construction of the 100-megawatt wind power project will start early in 2012.

Elbrahim Khan from Wesgro, the Western Cape Investment and Trade Promotion Agency said “These investments are a breath of fresh air and it shows that South Africa is no longer just talking about renewable energy,”

He also added “The good news for South Africa is that there are serious ambitions to get our energy mix right and there are more renewable energy power projects in the pipeline that are to be funded by private investors.”

It is evident that for both the private and public, South Africa is fast becoming a preferred renewable energy investments destination; this is very good news for South Africa’s increasing electricity demands, emerging clean energy sector and the economy.

There are also certain key investment areas in the country; these are the Eastern Cape, Western Cape where investments are predominantly into wind and photovoltaic (PV) solar power and the Northern Cape Province which has been recognised as the best area for concentrated solar power (CSP) technology, this technology uses mirrors or lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight, or solar thermal energy onto a small area, this usually takes place with rotating panels.

South Africa certainly has the potential to develop itself into a major player in the clean energy sector. This is clear by the substantial amount of interest that has been shown by investors in recent months.

“We are going for renewable energy in a big way,” Khan said


Dubai a safe Haven in difficult times

The global market may have been hit hard in the 2008-2009 global financial and debt crisis, but the latest international financial turmoil and the 2011 political unrest sweeping across parts of the Arabian region has proven fortuitous for Dubai, which is now largely regarded as a safe haven! As its tourism and service industry have experienced substantial growth during this period, individuals and companies are looking towards Dubai as a key Gulf business hub.


The attraction of Dubai is that it was one of the first Emirates in the UAE to move away from oil as its main source of income. This has allowed it to methodically and determinedly work at transforming itself from an oil rich country into an important trade centre and business port. The financial crisis of 2008-2009 hit the lively city at a time when it was borrowing a lot to build enormous projects, including the world’s tallest towers and the largest man-made islands.

With the disappearance of foreign investors by the end of 2008, transaction volumes plummeted leaving Dubai with its gross domestic product dropping 2.4 per cent. Along with a rapidly increasing debt, Dubai World was forced to freeze payments on approx. $26 billion. With fears of a sovereign debt default about to unfold, the UAE’s two largest home finance companies also stopped offering new loans. The two mortgage lenders accounted for more than 50% of all mortgages in the country.

In 2010 Dubai started a moderate recovery, as the city co-ordinated efforts by reorganising its debt position and quarantining all problem assets. Having learnt from its past experiences, Dubai’s attraction to outside investors and companies especially now the Eurozone is being overwhelmed by its own escalating debt crisis is further solidifying the Emirate’s continued recovery.

According to TRI Hospitality Consulting the tourism and hotel sector in Dubai has seen a strong increase at the beginning of 2011 as the Arab spring has encouraged international and regional tourists to travel to safer destinations. This trend showed high occupancy during summer months, when many tourists avoided the troubled holiday destinations such as Egypt and Syria.

Manufacturing processes such as transportation and logistics from international companies now also provided Dubai with enough leverage to increase its strengths, diversify its economy further and build global competitiveness. These sectors represent an essential part of the economy’s recovery as it comprises of 10.4 per cent of non-oil GDP. (Nabeel Ebrahim, Abu Dhabi University Chancellor)

The trade sector of Dubai has also experienced growth, and according to EFG-Hermes the container traffic improved by 11 per cent in the first quarter of 2011.

“The UAE has remained relatively immune to contagion from recent political unrest in the region. The IMF went further to say that the UAE may actually gain from the current turmoil through increased tourism, as well as from companies relocating to the UAE’s favourable business environment, which now boasts affordable real estate with relatively good infrastructure.” International Monetary Fund, 2011


Renewable Energy wins the race against fossil fuels

Global investments in renewable energy have exceeded fossil fuels for the first time, last year was also the first time that expenditure in developing countries has surpassed that in the industrialized world, said Steve Sawyer, secretary-general of the Brussels-based Global Wind Energy Council.  “Predicting both trends will continue.”

Achim Steiner, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Environment Program said in an interview “The progress of renewables has been nothing short of remarkable; you have record investment in the midst of an economic and financial crisis.”

Even without a global agreement on limiting greenhouse gasses, findings have shown that the world is in fact moving towards consuming more renewable energy. Delegates from more than 190 nations these including representatives from the world’s governments, international organizations and civil society converge in Durban, South Africa, from Nov. 28 to 9 Dec. 2011 to discuss new procedures that can be put into place to limit emissions that are damaging the climate.

This debate in South Africa’s third-largest city will include the establishment of a fund that will channel on a yearly basis, an unstated share of $100 billion in climate aid to developing countries by 2020, this being vowed by the richer nations. Also on the agenda will be monitoring and verifying the emissions cuts by all nations, as well as constructing a mechanism that will transfer CO2-reducing technology between countries

As said by Robert Stavins, Director of Environmental Economics at Harvard University “It’s impossible to punt any further down the line a decision regarding a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, those discussions will dominate, and the process could become paralyzed.”

Connie Hedegaard, EU Climate Commissioner said during an interview  “Kyoto is unlikely to see an extension due to its current form, thus the  27-nation EU bloc will be pushing for a clear path towards charting, where countries will have to make legally binding commitments.”

The EU accounts for 11 per cent of all global emissions and are seeking to reach a new and expanded agreement with the world’s biggest emitters.

“With current policies in place, global temperatures are set to increase 6 degrees Celsius, which has catastrophic implications. If as of 2017 there is not a start of a major wave of new and clean investments, the door to 2 degrees will be closed.” as told by Faith Birol, IEA Chief