The historic abundance and low cost of power in South Africa for decades provided no incentive to develop clean energy sources, or indeed to recycle energy in any form, despite the energy intensity of the South African mining and metallurgical industries.
It is now common knowledge that energy supplies worldwide are under severe pressure and require re-invention due to prevailing economic and environmental realities.
This is especially true in the South African context with power outings becoming a frequent occurrence and the national electricity supplier, Eskom, placing restraints on energy intensive users (such as the Ferro-alloy sector) to reduce their consumption to 90% of historical operational levels.
These power constraints have a direct impact on the bottom line of companies in the mining industry, especially those with smelting operations, as their production is linearly related to power consumption.
In addition, coupled with the energy intensity of the South African mining industry, and the nature of the power generation mix – more than 96% is produced from fossil fuel – South Africa also has one of the dirtiest grids in the world.
Because of this latter fact, clean energy production initiatives in South Africa attract significant amounts of “Carbon Credits” or Certified Emission Reduction (CER) certificates for projects that qualify under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol. The Vuselela Energy project Eternity Power, is registered as a CDM project.
While it is true that in some cases the technologies required for production of clean energy are still too expensive to compete against SA’s fossil fuel abundance, the CERs earned from CDM projects as an offset against Carbon Tax can assist in driving development of these projects forward as internationally we move toward a “Green Economy”
Formation of Vuselela
Against this background, Vuselela was conceived in 2009 to originate and develop clean energy projects based on capturing and utilization of waste heat sources and gearing these projects through incentives available under a number of “clean energy” initiatives
The personnel and partners of Vuselela Energy originate from the Pyro-metallurgical industry and understand these dynamics and processes. As a result, the Ferro-alloy sector was identified as the most attractive initial target.
The Ferro-Alloy industry in South Africa has the largest potential to generate electrical power from waste heat, and is also the industry that can benefit the most from it, because of its energy intensive