Articles Posted in the Green News category

News briefs

December 19, 2008
Posted in Green News

  • BOTTLE STOPPERS: Students at Britain’s Leeds University have voted to ban bottled still water from all their bars, cafes and shops. More than 30,000 pounds in profits reportedly will be lost from the sale of around 20,000 bottles of water a year to students by the university union’s outlets. “It’s a measure of concern about the environment, putting sustainability before profit,” Tom Salmon of Leeds University Union told the Guardian. Bottled water will be replaced by water fountains and “affordable, reusable water bottles”, and a campaign will promote tap water. [Source: Guardian] (Thank you to Anna on Twitter for the link)
  • BUY EVERY MOUNTAIN: Capetonians were shocked to discover this week that Hout Bay’s landmark Sentinel mountain, which has been described as one of Cape Town’s most photographed features, has been put up for sale for a mere R12-million. Many people had been under the impression that the mountain was part of a national park. The fact that it is privately owned raises concerns that the mountain may be developed – Hout Bay is a very popular, upmarket, residential suburb. South African National Parks has apparently made “several offers” to buy the Sentinel, but they have been rejected. Any attempts to develop the land are likely to be met by fierce resistance from environmentalists. The estate agent involved in the sale was quoted as saying: “It’s quite unusual for a mountain to be up for sale. Whoever buys it will probably do so to be able to say: ‘I own that mountain’.” [Source: IOL]
  • POWERING DOWN: The government has retrofitted 4,000 buildings with energy-saving equipment, saving R56-million a year in electricity costs, the deputy president, Baleka Mbete, told an energy saving conference earlier this month. It aims to eventually make every government facility energy efficient. Ms Mbete urged ordinary South Africans not to waste power. She also warned that Eskom will be carrying out routine maintenance to its infrastructure in January. This time last year rolling blackouts cost the economy billions of rands. [Source: BuaNews]
  • SHORING UP: The Netherlands is spending  billions of dollars on reinforcing its dykes amid  fears of flooding from rising sea levels as a result of climate change. Two-thirds of the country  lies below sea level. It is also investing in augmenting its fresh water supplies. [Source: AFP via TerraDaily]

Guide to Cape Town’s nature reserves

December 18, 2008
Posted in Conservation

ct-nature-reservesIf you ask people why they love living in Cape Town they’ll often tell you that it’s because, no matter where you live in the city, you are never very far away from a nature reserve, a forest, a mountain, or a beach. It’s very condusive to an outdoorsy lifestyle. There are an incredible number of places where you can just park your car and walk for a few hours.

What’s more, Cape Town lies in the unique Cape Floristic Region, which was declared a Natural World Heritage Site in 2004. The region is the smallest and richest of the world’s six floral kingdoms and much of the plant life is found nowhere else. But more than 2,500 of its 9,000 plant species are threatened or endangered.

The City of Cape Town has set aside 24 areas where there are urban remnant habitats to try and conserve the natural heritage.

The city’s department of environmental resource management has produced a booklet – City of Cape Town Nature Reserves. A network of amazing urban biodiversity – with information about the 24 small reserves and natural areas spread throughout the city, which are easily accessible to residents or visitors.

The 63-page booklet, gives you an overview of the vegetation types. There is at least one page on each of the reserves with plenty of photographs, plus details of opening hours, entry fees, activities that you can do on each reserve and the types of species found there.

Contact details for the local friends groups associated with the nature reserves are included in the booklet. Residents of Cape Town are encouraged to become actively involved in conserving their natural and cultural heritage by joining these groups.

The booklet would make a great present for any nature lover who lives in the Cape or is planning to visit. It is apparently available from the Rietvlei, Rondevlei and Helderberg Nature Reserves at R5 per booklet. It is also available from the Botanical Society Bookshop at Kirstenbosch Gardens.

You can also download a free copy of the publication from the City of Cape Town’s website.

Source: BuaNews

Archbishop Tutu is saving the whales

November 28, 2008
Posted in Conservation

Picture: © IFAW, T. Samson

‘This [campaign against the killing of whales] warns us that we are slowly ourselves committing a kind of suicide. If it is not a physical suicide, it is a moral and ethical suicide. For our own sakes we need to recover our humaneness, and our humanity. It is time to say no, no, no! to the killing of whales’ – Archbishop Desmond Tutu

South Africa’s much-loved Archbishop Desmond Tutu, well-known internationally for speaking out against apartheid, is adding his voice to the anti-whaling campaign.

Yesterday, he launched the Sacred Ocean – Global Voices Against the Cruelty of Whaling initiative at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town by unveiling a 3,4-metre high sculpture named Sacred Ocean by renowned cetacean artist and conservationist Noel Ashton.

The sculpture has been given pride of place in the foyer of Cape Town’s Two Oceans Aquarium.

The installation also features a touch-screen where visitors can register their opinions on whaling and send a “virtual postcard” of themselves and the sculpture to three friends. Tutu cast the first vote via the touch-screen yesterday.

Dr Patrick Garratt, managing director of the Two Oceans Aquarium, said: “The exhibit provides a unique platform for us to gauge public sentiment on the practice of whaling. For the first time ever, people from across the globe will be able to vote for or against whaling and communicate their opinion to the decision-makers.”

Sacred Ocean is a campaign by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Jason Bell-Leask, the Southern African director for IFAW, said: “As we launch Sacred Ocean to celebrate and save whales, we do so knowing the whaling fleets have already set sail for the Southern Ocean Sanctuary to hunt and kill more than 1,000 whales – some of them endangered species – in a sham called ‘scientific whaling’.

“We believe that IFAW’s Sacred Ocean – Global Voices Against the Cruelty of Whaling will send a powerful message that ordinary, and not so ordinary people, are against the appalling and unnecessary cruelty of whaling.”

The Two Oceans Aquarium, is one of South Africa’s top tourist attractions and annually welcomes thousands of visitors from around the world. If you’re going to be visiting the V&A Waterfront, pop in to the aquarium and register your vote.

The campaign also has its own website.

Climate change: Storms, drought and insurance

September 10, 2008
Posted in Green News

If you’ve been wondering whether the bad weather battering Cape Town of late is a sign that the effects of climate change are upon us, and thinking about whether you should sell the beach house and move to higher ground. Relax. asked SABC weatherman Simon Gear some questions, like what happened to spring day this year? Here’s what he said:

“The weather was only unusual in the sense that really big storms don’t happen every day. But, in terms of weather, Cape Town should expect a storm like that every year or so. So, no, it wasn’t particularly unusual. Typically September does see a few fronts so the timing wasn’t unusual. Read more

Small-scale wind power blows into SA

August 28, 2008
Posted in Renewable energy

I’d always thought that to generate electricity from wind you’d need a great expanse of open space that the wind could howl across to turn giant turbines, but you don’t. Recently, in South Africa, I’ve come across two types of turbine that prove that you don’t need to live on a farm to have a wind turbine. You could, in fact, generate wind power for your home or office. How exciting is that?

The first wind turbine system was installed on a billboard in Bryanston, Johannesburg, see right. It comprises lots of little round turbines joined together. James Lech, the director of Phieco, the local company that sells and installs these turbines says they are designed for urban and rural environments and the system can be scaled to suit your needs. They can be installed on buildings to generation power for lights or air conditioning, for example. What’s more, these little turbines start turning at wind speeds of 1m/s. They also come in different colours, so you could design your system to look like the South African flag, or some other picture, if you like. Go to Phieco’s website to find out more information.

The other turbine is the hybrid wind/solar generator that’s on trial at Cape Town’s N2 Gateway low-cost housing project. It’s known as the Little Wind House (LWH), see left.

From what I can gather, Swiss company Greentecno designed it specifically for developing markets as a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to diesel generators for small-scale electricity generation in rural/off-the-grid locations. It’s described as extremely sturdy, resistant to very high winds and extreme weather conditions, it’s easy to assemble, installation and construction costs are low, and it’s said to need nearly no maintenance.

The LWH’s average generation capacity is 15kWh/day. It’s peak capacity is 4,8kW. It stands 7m high, has a small, vertical-axis wind turbine and eight photovoltaic panels with a peak capacity of 170W each and a maximum power output of the solar component is 1,4kW.

The Times reports that the Cape Town generator will provide power to 10 houses. It sells for R310,000 and the housing department is assessing its cost-effectiveness.

Update (03.09.08): The LWH’s generating capacity is now 25kWh/day. They are also manufactured locally, says Maurits Perold of Greentecno Africa.

Sources: The Times, All ,, Greentecno

Cape Town to sell SA’s first wind power

May 28, 2008
Posted in Renewable energy

The City of Cape Town plans to sell green electricity from July, according to the city’s website.

The electricity will be supplied by the Darling Wind Farm, which was officially switched on last Friday by the minerals and energy minister, Bulyewa Sonjica. It is South Africa’s first commercial wind farm, situated in the town of Darling, 70km from Cape Town.

The wind farm’s four 1.3MW turbines can generate 5.2MW of electricity. There are plans to add six more 1.3MW turbines in the future, bringing the total capacity to 13MW.

The electricity produced by the wind farm will be added to the national grid and sold to the City of Cape Town as part of a long-term power purchase agreement. This will go towards the city’s target of sourcing 10% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The city will sell the electricity to customers interested in buying sustainable energy “initially at a premium (surcharge) of 25c/kWh above the cost of conventional electricity”, according to the city’s website.

The Darling Wind Farm is a R75-million national demonstration project developed by a group consisting of private developers, including Darling Independent Power Producer, the Central Energy Fund and the Development Bank of Southern Africa. The Danish International Development Assistance programme provided a third of the funding in the form of a grant.

Over its 20-year predicted life span, the Darling Wind Farm will reportedly save 142,500 tons of coal and 370-million litres of water. It will also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 258,100 tons, sulphur dioxide by 2,200 tons, nitric oxide by 1,100 tons, particulates by 58 tons and ash by 42,200 tons.

To find out more about buying Cape Town’s green electricity, click here

Via: IOL
and Engineering News