greening it up - eskom woes, tranquil winds, it's curtains for solar energy and more

Submitted by MichaelE on Mon, 2010-03-08 14:03

Wind power blows away tranquility?

BENEDICTINE monks living in the hills outside Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, are angry about plans to build a wind farm near their monastery. Brother Timothy Jolley, the Mariya uMama weThemba Monastery prior, yesterday said the Anglican monks feared the noise and visual impact of the 135m turbines would forever destroy the “contemplative life” they had worked so hard to achieve over the past 12 years. More

The standard of water quality in the Cape under question.

The overall quality of the city's inland and coastal water has reached a 10-year low, and despite the associated health threats, budget and resource constraints mean the situation is unlikely to be reversed soon, says a City of Cape Town report.

The report on the overall water quality in 2009, showed that despite slight improvements in certain areas, the overall compliance with water quality guidelines for inland water systems had dropped to 43 percent from a high of 80.5 percent in 2000.

At the Hout Bay River, only 29 percent of samples complied, while of the 10 samples drawn from the Eerste and Kuils Rivers last year, only 27 percent complied. More

Eskoms money woes continue

The government cautioned at the weekend that it did not have money to provide further loans to Eskom, and said there was a limit to the total guarantees it could issue.

The comments from the Department of Public Enterprises come amid increasing pressure to fund the utility's R485 billion capacity expansion. Major developed nations are threatening to withhold support for a $3.75 billion (R28bn) World Bank loan, the bulk of which is earmarked for the Medupi coal-fired power plant. More

This came amid threats from Britain and America to withhold funding for the World Bank loan to fund a coal fired plant in South Africa. The opposition by the bank’s two largest members has raised eyebrows among those who note that the two advanced economies are allowing development of coal- powered plants in their own countries even as they raise concern about those in poorer countries. More

Nuclear reactor causes fission amongst local residents

CONCERNED residents of one of the Eastern Cape’s most pristine stretches of coastline are planning a court battle of David and Goliath proportions in a last-ditch effort to stave off parastatal Eskom’s attempts to build a massive nuclear power reactor on their doorstep.

Residents of popular Southern Cape resort towns Cape St Francis, St Francis Bay and Oyster Bayare furious over plans by Eskom to build a pressurised water reactor, the most common type of nuclear station globally, at Thyspunt, a vacant tract of land between the three coastal retreats. The proposed reactor will cost “well over R100-billion” and will aim to secure the country’s power reserves until well beyond 2025. But Eskom has denied turning a blind eye to residents’ concerns, saying a decision is yet to be taken by government over whether it even wants to grow its nuclear energy capacity or not. More

Going bananas for undies down under

SYDNEY: Australian underwear company AussieBum has been monkeying around, and the result is a range of men's underwear made with bananas.

The new eco-friendly banana range of undies incorporates 27 percent banana fibre, 64 percent cotton and 9 percent lycra, AussieBum's Lloyd Jones said yesterday. More

Curtains for solar energy

Cityscapes of glass-clad buildings gleaming in the sun make Anna Dyson think about wasted energy.

Dyson heads the Center for Architecture Science and Ecology, or CASE, a research consortium that wants to turn office windows into multifaceted solar power generators.

Their "integrated concentrating dynamic solar facade" consists of grids of clear pyramids that help focus the sun's rays to generate energy.

It would essentially make buildings look as if they were draped in giant Jewelled curtains.

A prototype gets a real-world tryout after the opening this week of an eco-friendly research building in Syracuse. More

EU authorizes GMO potatoes

The European Commission on Tuesday approved the cultivation of genetically-modified potatoes, but environmentalists and some European ministers slammed the so-called "frankenfoods".

The first approval of genetically modified foods in Europe for 12 years was criticised by the Friends of the Earth group and others as a threat to human health, though the potatoes will not be for human consumption.

"This is a bad day for European citizens and the environment," Friends of the Earth said of the green light given for the Amflora potato to be developed by German chemical giant BASF. More

South Africa, not necessarily a quake free zone

A major earthquake in South Africa is a real possibility, but there is no way of predicting when it might occur.

Dr Chris Hartnady, research and technical director at earth science consultancy Umvoto Africa, singled out Durban as the area of greatest concern in the event of an earthquake on the continent.

But Cape Town is not risk-free.

Referring to severe earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, and another that struck Taiwan on Thursday, he said such events occurred when the tectonic plates of the earth's crust moved, slid, sheared and ground against each other. More