Zimbabwe’s struggle for solar

Despite the large number of large-scale projects being announced or tendered over the past years and the recent introduction of a net metering scheme for rooftop solar, Zimbabwe had only 11 MW of installed solar capacity at the end of December 2018, according to the latest statistics released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

This low level of development is not only due to the country’s difficult macro-economic and political context, but also to a series of issues that have hindered the construction of large-scale solar plants across the country over past years, in addition to the lack of real incentives for distributed generation projects.

Reviving existing projects

Zimbabwe’s minister of energy and power development, Fortune Chasi, however, now seems to have the intention of moving things forward, and to clean up business in the solar sector.
With this and other tweets, Chasi said that construction on one of the 100 MW Gwanda solar plants under development by Intratek Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd, must now be finalized. The minister also visited the site where the project is being built. “Hon. Min. F. Chasi ended the Byo tour with a visit to the site of the Gwanda Solar Project in order to assess the situation and progress on the ground. He was escorted by various officials from Gwanda local gvt,” the MOEPD also tweeted.

According to local newspaper The Herald, Intratek’s owner, Wicknell Chivayo has officially apologized for the project’s delay, as his company had been paid US$5 million by Zimbabwe Power Company for pre-commencement work. Chasi has also stated that the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) has incurred is a loss of around US$50 million due to the delayed project, which was planned to come online by the end of 2017.

In early June, a parliamentary committee had called for the cancellation of the project, according to ESI Africa. “The money paid to Intratek should be recovered after investigations are completed and the award [of the tender] to Intratek needs to be rescinded in light of violations of the Company’s Act and the [now] repealed Procurement Act,” committee chairperson Temba Mliswa said at the time.

The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) had granted a license to the project in November 2017, after the consortium agreed it would construct the power plant at the reduced price of $140 million, instead of the previously planned $170 million.

The solar plant, together with two more 100 MW PV projects awarded to Chinese companies ZTE Corporation and MCC17 Group Co Ltd, is part of a tender that was finalized in 2015. Of the three assigned projects, however, only the Gwanda scheme seems still to be under real development. In June 2017, ESI Africa reported that ZTE had completed the feasibility study for its Insukamini Solar Project, but afterwards no more news on the project were repoerted.

A first tender for the three projects was finalized in 2014, but the country’s authorities decided to scrap it after the awarded bids were judged as being too high at a later stage.

Getting rid of old permits

On July 8, a ministry also announced on twitter its intention to review all granted licenses to power generation projects.
In a second tweet on the matter, it also clarified that having a long list of licenses is not productive. “Everything has to be very legal. Licensees must be given the right to explain themselves around the issue of non-performance … we cannot hang onto people that keep licenses for speculative purposes,” it stated.

According to the Sunday News, as of the end of June, ZERA had given licenses to 61 IPP projects with a capacity of 6.6 GW across the country and, of them, only 16 totaling 131 MW are now operational.

A push for distributed generation

Meanwhile, Chasi said in an interview with The Herald last week that the government is also planning to provide unspecified incentives to rooftop solar under net metering. “So, we are currently looking at that. Once we are clear on the incentive, we will then be able to communicate to the public,” he said, without providing further details.

The net metering scheme came officially into force in December 2018 after being announced by the government at the beginning of last year.

Zimbabwe’s grid has suffered from power outages daily for the past decade, with ZESA struggling to raise to required capital to invest in new power stations. The country, which is now resorting to power imports from neighboring Mozambique and South Africa, is targeting to deploy 1 GW of power generation capacity from clean energy by 2025.

“So much can be done with solar energy,” Chasi said last week in one of his numerous tweets.

Link: https://www.pv-magazine.com/2019/07/16/zimbabwes-struggle-to-get-solar/

假环保的赔本生意?

马来西亚成为“洋垃圾回收国”,人弃我收正是近日我国最热门的环保课题之一。

什么是洋垃圾呢?洋垃圾是指经由外地进口的固体废物,进口时可能通过行贿取得入口批文、经走私渠道或者水客偷运等手段。

英国《镜报》日前报道,英国广播公司(BBC)纪录片团队针对英国垃圾的去向进行调查有否真正回收发现,怡保废墟竟成了英国的塑料垃圾的“栖身之地”,更形成了20英尺高的塑料垃圾山!

报道形容,这场环境灾难“全都有英国超市和地方政府回收部门的指纹”,而主持人甚至形容,当他将这里塑料垃圾放进在英国的回收箱时,确实以为自己和国人做回收时都做对了,但现在却是感到羞耻、惭愧和生气,甚至觉得自己被骗了。

无独有偶的是,自这将于6月10日播出的纪录片之报道曝光后,北海货柜码头和巴生码头都先后截下265个虚报货柜,从世界各国大量引入洋垃圾,包括美国、加拿大、比利时、德国、法国、日本、香港、澳洲、纽西兰、英国、中国、西班牙、荷兰、沙特阿拉伯、新加坡和孟加拉等。

能源、科学、科技、气候变化与环境部长杨美盈指出,一些人士将洋垃圾通过虚假申报交易为再生原料,让国民面对塑料燃烧所导致的健康问题、河流污染、非法垃圾填埋场和其他各种相关问题。

杨部长严厉谴责,“我们认为这些罪犯是保护国家的叛徒,所以他们的活动需要立即停止,并将他们绳之以法。”

自中国于2018年开始禁止洋垃圾进口后,发展国家即向东南亚国家下手。在这之前,中国单是2015年就接收了全世界70%的废塑料和37%的废纸,共计4600万吨;2016年更是接收了当年全世界产生垃圾总量的56%。

泰国和越南也尾随中国不批准塑料垃圾进口,导致马来西亚、印尼和菲律宾成为洋垃圾出口国的最大目标。我国的瓜冷万津及仁嘉隆就先后被揭发洋垃圾把当地环境搞得乌烟瘴气,直接影响了当地居民的健康。

其实,在巴塞尔公约的管制下,所有有害废弃物的越境转移都必须得到进口国及出口国的同意才能进行。1995年甚至通过了巴塞尔公约修订案(又名巴塞尔禁令),禁止已发展国家向发展中国家输出有害废弃物,进一步控制有害废弃物的转移问题。

尽管塑料垃圾处理能带来巨额利润(1吨塑料垃圾约200美元,处理后翻倍至850美元),但非法垃圾处理厂采用不规范的垃圾处理方式,甚至非法进口了根本无法回收处理的洋垃圾,进而对环境造成极大的破坏。

因此,政府实在应更加强监管,否则只会得不偿失,除了赔了高昂的垃圾处理成本外,还要赔上人民的健康!#

穹顶之下的自救?

倒数几天就是6月5日,这一天乃联合国“世界环境日”。今年世界环境日的主要系列活动将在中国浙江省杭州市举行,世界各国代表将聚焦“空气污染”主题。

说起空气污染,自然让我想起前媒体人柴静在2015年推出的《穹顶之下》纪录片。这名前央视主播自费拍摄的纪录片,自2015年2月28日在优酷网公开24个小时,观看人次超过3千多万、评论超过五万条!

短短几天里,点击率已突破两亿;但随着中国政府于3月6日全面禁播这部纪录片后,腾讯、优酷、搜狐等影音网站已无法看到这部纪录片,只能在Youtube才能搜寻得到。

由于女儿没出世便患有肿瘤,从一出生就接受手术,孩子生病让柴静更加关心健康问题,而呼吸是健康方面最直接的领域之一。在这纪录片里,她只想回答三个问题:“什么是雾霾?”、“它从哪儿来?”以及“中国该怎麽办?”

为了获得答案,柴静曾24小时揹着PM2.5的採样仪做实验、进入煤矿黑户看公权管不了的油污废气、在医院手术室看没吸烟但肺里长满黑色淋巴结的病患、到全世界肺癌最高发地区之一的中国云南宣威虎头村采访,以及向美国航空航天局(NASA)申请中国华北上空过去十年的卫星图片等。

因此,尽管《穹顶之下》长达104分钟,但她以强而有力的话语、数据和画面,加入动画解释细悬浮微粒PM2.5,深入浅出,一点也不让人觉得冗长沉闷,进而引起广大共鸣与关注,甚至登上世界各国的封面新闻。

无独有偶的是,2015年的英国《自然》杂志曾发表一份由德国、美国与沙地阿拉伯所组成的国际研究团队之报告,指全球每年有逾300万人因空气污染而早死,比疟疾和爱滋病的死亡人数加起来还要多。

那么,到底PM2.5颗粒污染物的杀伤力有多强呢?只要一个成年人在受污染的空气下进行普通生活作息1小时,即相等于抽了一支半香烟!

事实上,2015年的马来西亚也因霾害而宣布停课,使到400万名学生受停课影响。印尼6个省份更因霾害而进入紧急状态,而汶莱、新加坡、泰国南部、越南南部、菲律宾,甚至柬埔寨、马里亚纳群岛和关岛都因这场东南亚霾害不同程度的影响。

当然,烟霾是马来西亚每年的访客。坊间就有人调侃说,马来西亚虽然没有春夏秋冬四季,但却有雨季、旱季、烟霾季和榴莲季,可见马来西亚人也是空气污染的受害者。

陈文德:吸进呼出的死亡

每一年的6月5日,都是联合国订下的“世界环境日”,而今年的世界环境日主题为“空气污染”,世界各国代表将在中国浙江省杭州市共商对策。

其实,世界卫生组织早在今年3月列出2019年全球卫生面临的10项威胁,而空气污染与气候变化同列第一名,可见此问题是何等严峻?

其他的威胁依序排列尚有非传染性疾病、全球流感、生存环境恶劣、抗菌素耐药性、伊波拉病毒和其他高威胁病原体、初级卫生保健薄弱、不愿接种疫苗、骨痛热症和爱滋病毒(HIV)。

2018年,世卫公布了惊人数据:全球92%的人口呼吸著污染空气、空气污染每年造成高达5兆美元(超过20兆令吉)的福利损失,而且预计2030年的近地面臭氧污染将导致主要农作物减产26%。

被遗忘的30亿人

换言之,世界上有9/10的人日复一日地呼吸被污染的空气。每一天,空气中的微细污染物都在穿透我们的呼吸系统和循环系统,损害肺部、心脏和大脑,也因此每年有700万人过早死于癌症、中风、心脏病和肺病等疾病。

尽管我们已活在高科技的时代,但全球仍有30亿人在明火和开放式炉灶条件下,使用固体燃料在家进行烹饪和取暖;大约有27亿人燃烧生物质(木柴、动物粪便、作物废弃物);以及另有4亿人使用煤炭。

这些人正是空气污染的主要受害群,约有90%来自低收入和中等收入国家,因为这些国家除了工业、交通和农业的排放量很大,家庭中的肮脏炉灶和燃料也很多,而这群人正是世卫所说的“室内空气污染和家用能源:被遗忘的30亿人”。说起空气污染,当然离不开PM2.5悬浮颗粒。由于PM2.5悬浮颗粒的直径小于2.5微米,比病毒大、比细菌小,尺寸更小的它们非常容易带有毒物质进入人体,也更容易进入肺泡。

那么,这PM2.5的杀伤力有多强呢?只要一个成年人在受污染的空气下进行普通生活作息1小时,即相等于抽了一支半香烟!更骇人的是,由肺炎导致的五岁以下儿童死亡中,几乎有50%是因为吸入了室内空气污染带来的颗粒物。

呼吸是生物赖以生存的正常生理现象。当我们屏息之间的吸进呼出均是受污染的空气,又怎能叫我们能活得健康呢?别以为空气污染不干你我的事,因为我们每一人都是受害者!

陈文德:从垂危到重生

印度国父甘地曾经说过,“地球能满足人类的需要、但满足不了人类的贪婪。”(Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs,but not every man’s greed)

的确,就是人类的贪婪,使到地球的资源被吃干榨尽,造就了今日的局面。看著全球暖化的情况日益严重,难道一切已不能回头了吗?

亡羊补牢,未为迟也。只要我们有心,那么我们尚能在一切未成太迟时做出改变。当然,铁棒磨成针需要很长的时间,要扭转全球暖化的危机,务必需要大家的众志成城。

泰晤士河“起死回生”

以英国著名的“母亲河”──泰晤士河为例,曾经于1957年被自然历史博物馆宣布在生物学意义上已经死亡,但现在已经被“起死回生”了。

一直以来,泰晤士河都在英国拥有非常重要的经济地位,也是全世界水面交通最繁忙的都市河流和伦敦地标之一。惟,此河在工业革命后深受污染,甚至引发瘟疫和恶臭等系列问题。

其后,随著重工业减少、人民环保意识增强而开始严格监管、科技进步等因素,让这条河了逐渐恢复了生机。当河流逐渐恢复天然状态、鱼儿自然回游了,才让这条河重现生机。可惜的是,据BBC英伦网,2015年皇家霍洛威学院在70%的泰晤士河比目鱼的胃里发现了塑料!

除了泰晤士河以外,挪威的森林也是另一实例。这里所谓的“挪威的森林”,并不是村上春树的长篇小说,亦不是伍佰的经典名曲,而是挪威这个国家那片重获生机的森林。

环保需要人类齐心

挪威境内的森林经过长年累月的泛滥砍伐,丰富资源几近消失。所幸挪威政府在19世纪初意识到问题的严重,落实测量森林数据,并于1919年成为全球首个评估全国森林状况的国家。

在过去这几十年里,挪威政府更把范围拓至测量林地上的枯木数量(此乃濒危昆虫的主要栖息地),甚至投入更多精力来保护生物多样性,包括开辟一些区域来保护稀有和濒危物种。

无论是英国泰晤士河或挪威森林的例子,都验证了“聚沙成塔”的道理。倘若没有政府所立定落实的政策、没有人民的配合、没有社会组织的监督,严重污染的河流和濒临灭绝的森林绝不可能重现生机。

环保,从来都不是一蹴而就的事。只有你我齐心,人类才能在这场环保长战中幸存,还家国和子孙一片净土。