Construction has begun on a new wind farm in the Eastern Cape between Cookhouse and Bedford. The wind turbines arrived last week at the Port of Ngqura outside Port Elizabeth generating much excitement for the project. Continue reading
Have you been thinking of going greener at home but haven’t got around to it yet. Eskom’s latest residential rebate program might be just the incentive you need. They are offering to replace existing halogen downlighters with LED lighting alternatives for free! If it seems too good to be true check out the details as laid out by Eskom’s service provider on this project. Continue reading
Great news for South African businesses that want to go green: Eskom is offering rebates on the initial costs of changing over to a more energy efficient system, including purchases of LED bulbs and downlights. This great offer applies to businesses, retail outlets, guest houses, industrial and commercial properties and would be a great way to fund a total change over from conventional lighting to LED lighting. The rebate is of up 85% of the total cost.
There are many businesses that would like to become more environmentally friendly but haven’t yet been able to afford the total investment of changing over – this is the perfect opportunity for them.
There are various conditions to qualify for the scheme, one of them being that the changes must save a minimum of 2Mw per annum. This can be a tricky thing to work out for yourself so it is strongly recommended to get the advice of a specialist supplier of LED lighting. They can assess your energy usage and work out the savings that would accrue from a changeover to LED, as well as guiding you through the process of applying for the rebate.
While you are looking at LED lighting don’t forget about your display signs too. Switching over from fluorescent light boxes to LED lightboxes, from neon signs to LED signs can also add to your energy efficiency, cutting costs in the long run.
Photo copyright © Joshua Huber | Dreamstime.com
At last there are companies producing small wind turbines suitable for domestic use, which could be the solution for families wanting to go off-grid, or at least generate a substantial part of their own energy needs.
With the abundance of wind in our local climates, a wind turbine can produce enough energy to power a home, especially if it has back up from solar power when it comes to water heating.
One company, Psiclone Renewable Energy Solutions has produced two types of domestic wind turbine – one to be used completely off-grid, which has a battery for storing excess power produced; the other version ties into the grid, enabling excess energy to be returned to the grid.
Though much of this is developed with rural areas in mind, some models are compact enough to be mounted on the roof in urban situations. Combine your own clean energy source with other energy saving solutions like LED lighting and energy efficient appliances and you could be well on the way to a carbon neutral way of living.
As with many alternative energy solutions the draw-back is the initial cost of instalment; however if you add up your monthly energy bills and consider that all your future energy will be free, it doesn’t take a mathematical genius to discover that the installation costs will have paid for themselves in about two years or so. Plus you will have a clean, sustainable energy source to weather future power outages, price hikes and all the doom and gloom predictions of power shortages.
Now it’s just a question of whether you can handle all your friends and neighbours descending on you every time there’s a power outage in the future!
Tetrapak has been with us for years and what was once an innovative new packaging we now take for granted. Their marketing used to be based on functionality and ease of use, but increasingly they are seeking to position their packaging products on reduced environmental impact.
Tetrapak reputedly has a lower carbon footprint than plastic bottles and is even challenging glass bottles in the eco-friendly stakes. So do we believe the claims?
Reduced transport costs per item
One of Tetrapak’s big advantages over round bottles, whether plastic or glass, is its square format. Containers stack closely, meaning that a greater number of items can be transported at a time, reducing the carbon footprint of the transport. The weight is significantly less than glass bottles too, making a big difference in cost and carbon footprint for any items being shipped long distances.
The resources used in production of Tetrapak, are another matter. While they use far less petroleum products than plastic bottles, they are based on cardboard which of course uses trees. In the past this has been a sticking point in the eco-friendly claims, but Tetrapak have now addressed this with their latest product – the Tetra Brik Aseptic 1000 Edge: it uses Forest Stewardship Council certified packaging material, meaning that the cardboard comes from renewable forestry sources. To this they have added green polyethylene closures which will be available from 2012.
The final aspect to look at for carbon footprint is how recyclable Tetrapak actually is. It ought to be fully recyclable, but, in many areas, city councils and municipalities don’t have the facilities to recycle it. In these cases it just adds to the landfill problem. This however isn’t really Tetrapak’s problem, as theoretically their packaging can be recycled.
All in all it seems that Tetrapak is making great efforts to be environmentally friendly. Though it’s probably going to be a while before the consumers are convinced that buying wine in Tetrapaks rather than glass bottles is the way to go!
Alternative building materials are gaining support everywhere: straw bale houses, cob houses, sand bag houses… but the latest alternative house I’ve come across is made of hemp! About 70% hemp in all including the furnishings, in this stunning hemp house in Noordhoek, Cape Town. Built by Tony Budden, of Hemporium, advocate and campaigner for hemp in South Africa, it is a perfect demonstration of hemp’s infinite number of uses.
I knew hemp was a versatile material, now being used to make clothing and a wide variety of other products, but until now I’d no idea that it could be made into bricks, hardboard, insulation and more.
Hemp has the huge eco-advantage of being quick to grow and naturally pest resistant. It can be processed into hundreds of useful products without the harmful by-products of most industrially produced, petroleum based fabrics and materials. The hitch is that it’s still not legal to grow hemp in many countries, including South Africa. There is a dedicated online campaign in progress to get government legislation to allow hemp as a cash crop in South Africa, which could mean a whole new generation of affordable, eco-friendly and sustainable building methods… and houses that are totally bio-degradable when you’ve finished with them!
And no, you can’t smoke them! This variety of cannabis is very low in this substances that make you high, so it is not the same as dagga!
I was really happy to read that my favourite wine farm and cheese making establishment – Fairview – is just installing a flotilla of solar panels in its cheese-making factory. They need huge amounts of hot water in the process to turn out their delicious goats and cows milk cheeses. The fuel used to heat the water will be reduced by two thirds once the solar panels are up and running –still not quite carbon neutral but a huge improvement.
A big thumbs up to Fairview and here’s hoping that more businesses will follow their lead!