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Posts Tagged ‘UN Conference on Climate Change’

As the world sets to turn its eyes on South Africa later this year for the UN Conference on Climate Change that will take place in Durban, South Africa is in the process of implementing its own commitments to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions as part of an effort by the country to reduce total emissions by 34% by 2020 and green up its smokey image.

Despite having a smaller economy, South Africa is a significant emitter of carbon per capita, surprisingly producing more than China and almost as much (8.8 tons versus 8.9 tons) as the United Kingdom. As shocking as this statistic may be, it is of no surprise if one considers that over 90% of South Africa’s energy is generate by coal powered plants – the dirtiest form of energy available.

A plan by SA energy developers to push through the development of as many as 88 new wind farms with a total of 2800 turbines in the Western Cape is being met by serious opposition, who claim the turbines will change the landscape and do not want them in their backyards. Yet with South Africa’s economic growth and increased population, the energy needs of the country continue unmet, and there is no option for ESKOM (SA’s national energy provider) to adopt wind turbine generated electricity as part of a global strategy to reduce carbon outputs while also increasing energy production.

South Africans are well aware of the country’ energy crisis, having lived through periods of highly disruptive rolling electricity blackouts over the past five years. These blackouts have cost the country significant economic growth and forced many South Africans to re-evaluate their energy habits and find innovative solutions.  At the Fezeka School, where Education without Borders is heavily involved, some 30 students, with the assistance of local organizations, assembled a small wind turbine from scrap and recycled materials. The turbine provides all of the electrical needs for the science room in the school, and forms an integral part in the schools science curriculum. Not only does the windmill provide free energy for the school, it also generates an interest in the practical importance of science, engineering, and energy conservation. The windmill installed in the school’s community garden and forms part of a more comprehensive environmental education program.

With all the controversy of giant windmill turbines and the spectre of further electricity blackouts, it appears the students at Fezeka School have shown that small and ingenious solutions provide a practical and less invasive means meeting energy needs.
Indeed, the answer is blowing in the wind.

References

i. http://www.cop17durban.com/Pages/default.aspx
ii. http://www.simplygreen.co.za/local-stories/earth-and-animals/sa-pleased-with-progress-at-climate-change-talks.html
iii. http://www.capetimes.co.za/88-wind-farms-mooted-in-province-1.1083801
iv. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/world/africa/31safrica.html
v. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yitxrpfRFY&feature=player_embedded

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