Our Forgotten Amenities

If one takes stock and review’s the last couple of years of South Africa’s amenities concerns, the most prevalent, in the minds of many people, would be our seemingly ever-present struggle for a consistent and reliable source of electricity. This issue has taken on a life of its own to such an extent that the focus on any of our other vital resources has inadvertently been left on the bench.

Surprising to some South Africa is classified as semi-arid country. And while it is a given that our economic growth is reliant on a stable supply of electricity, it is also a cold fact that we can’t get by without a consistent supply of fresh water.

South Africa is not a water-rich country, in fact, SA is considered water stressed.” but precisely what are we doing about it? One could be forgiven for thinking that there is precious little preparation underway for national water security or skills development to ensure we become more efficient users of this invaluable resource. One need only think back to the Cape Town of last year, the ever-escalating water restrictions and the dire prediction of “Day Zero”. Beaufort West in the Karoo is running out of Water, and fast. The town in the water-scarce region has water restrictions at level 5 – almost as severe as last year’s water crisis measures in Cape Town. One year later, Beaufort West is battling prolonged, extreme water shortages, with the Karoo municipality implementing level 5 water restrictions. The three dams listed as supplying the area with water are the Gamka, Springfontein and Walker Dams. It also relies on 36 boreholes. The Gamka Dam has no water left, the latest available dam levels state that the dam is 0% full. And according to a news report by EWN, some of the 36 boreholes are drying up. The Western Cape government said there was no crisis in the Karoo municipality, with no Day Zero approaching. (1)

One could assume that little has been done since February of 2013 when a revised National Development Plan was put forward. Describing water as potentially the most significant limit to growth in the economic and agricultural sectors, The document also stated that there was a growing concern about the countries water future and “the ability of the current water administration to cope with emerging challenges”.

Key areas of focus in the document were a call for a massive increase in water efficiency, leak detection and water quality. Furthermore, the plan called for a dedicated national program to provide support in efforts to reduce water demand and increase productivity.

The Action Plan With No Skilled Professionals

Sadly, nine years on, in the light of day, South Africa still currently lacks the skills required to implement this type of action plan, and an essential element of its success will be the up-skilling of all water users, large and small. As South Africa’s price of water is minimal the urgency to rectify this problem is just not dire enough yet. it may in the near future. If we cast our minds back less than ten years, the same issues prevailed on electricity. The price of electricity was so low that Eskom’s calls for action fell on deaf ears until several price increases and incentive programs led us towards a change.

The situation seems set to have to go the way of Eskom, with a few steep price increases to ensure that society realizes that while access to sufficient water is a human right (as ensconced in our Constitution) one does not have the right to abuse this gift of the commons.

Finally and possibly most importantly, many new jobs are needed to fulfil the skills vacuum that exists today in water efficiency and management. Education and skills creation is an area that can have an immediate effect on the water scarcity issue. Emerging are a variety of new exciting professions such as Community Water Manager, Water Auditor, Water Minimisation Expert, Water Quality Manager and Water Flow Manager. The individuals who obtain these skills-sets and knowledge will appreciate that their expertise will be required. And the situation isn’t confined to South Africa. One-quarter of the world’s large cities, including at least two in the United States, are “water-stressed”.

Terra Firma Academy’s Water Efficiency Management course will ensure that aspirants to the professions mentioned above are fully equipped with the skills required to meet and surpass the requirements these jobs entail. This course is also professionally accredited and internationally recognized by the CIWEM – The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, meaning the skills you acquire upon completion of the course, are valid globally, in over 89 countries.

Our Water Efficiency Management Course is aimed at individuals who want to build a career around advising businesses on how to measure and reduce their water consumption immediately and for those who wish to extend their live skill sets to be able to implement an in-house water management strategy. Learners will be able to conduct financial assessments of many water management solutions and will get a strong understanding of how to recommend solutions that maximize return on investment.

The time to build the skills ensuring the efficient use of water resources in our country is now.

Terra Firma Academy runs its Water Efficiency Management Course nationwide, and it can be conducted in-house for groups of ten or more.

If you are interested in upskilling or acquiring an internationally certified skill, contact us today on 011 568 0768 or email us on info@terrafirma-academy.com

1 (Source: The Daily Maverick -25 January 2019)


Global warming, sea levels on the rise, melting ice caps; and the famous two degrees rising temperature limit! If you (like most people) have been left dazed and confused by the plethora of jargon, industry terminology and mixed messages, today’s post is going to focus on a new firm favourite, the Carbon Footprint.

That being said the point of this article isn’t to debate the pro’s and cons of Carbon Footprints, it’s actually to help you to get ahead of the pack, capitalize and obtain value and clarity when it comes to your business Carbon Footprint.

As discussed in our previous article, the Carbon Tax is now a reality, after years of not having any solid information relating to the tax ( apart from the fact that South Africa made certain commitments at the Paris Agreement on Climate Change), we now know that the tax becomes a reality in June 2019.

A carbon footprint that is conducted annually is generally a part of an organisation governing requirements and, as it’s inclusion in the organisations’ annual reports,  is often the most prominent motivating factor for businesses to continuously keep measuring their carbon impact.

As of late though, organisations have started to understand the benefits that come with maintaining a collated non-financial database as both a managerial and reference resource, prompting them to encourage the year on year assessment.

The data assimilated after undertaking a carbon footprint assessment equips companies with comprehensive data that can then be used to benchmark yearly performance standards, along with producing comparative records that can be referenced against competitors performance levels and industry standards, which allows them to identify incompetence within their organisation, and formulate and implement strategies to negate them, resulting in direct cost savings for the business.

Unfortunately, there are limited industry related Carbon Footprint benchmarks available to us. In South Africa, we have the use of the South African National Standards (SANS) 204, which is Energy Efficiency in Buildings. Included in which is the maximum annual consumption for different building classifications in various different climatic zones.

Much of what has been reviewed above only refers to electrical energy, as it often generates the largest and most common portion of the Carbon Footprint which can be identified and addressed, however, it should be taking into consideration that there are various other factors which contribute to a Carbon Footprint, these include all other fuels used by the organisation whether petrol, gas, coal, diesel and so forth. Even the activities and fuel consumption of supplier’s and staff play an active role.

This generally means that a certified Carbon Footprint is frequently one of the only non-fiscal recording tools available to an organisation has in order to recognise its own impact on the environment and provide a means of identifying wherever inefficiencies exist.

Which in turn raised the question of who would assess the Carbon Footprint for your organisation. In this regard, two potential choices exist. The first ( which is not to be undertaken lightly) is to have a member of your organisation trained by a certified training provider, who most certainly has international accreditation to ensure the training they receive falls in line with international standards.

Producing a detailed Carbon Footprint analysis entails recording a large amount of non-financial, annually produced data that can prove difficult to locate and collate, it also requires a detailed interpretation and analysis to ensure the footprint meets the Greenhouse gas protocol, which forms the current industry standard. The benefit of this option is once you have a certified trained member (or members) of staff within your organisation the assimilation and collection of the required data needed to complete an annual Carbon Footprint can be earmarked through the year, making it easily accessible when needed.

The second option is to employ a specialist consultant to undertake the analysis and develop the report for you.

Once the Carbon Footprint has been completed by your organisation it is a good idea to have it verified by an external audit.  An external third party, unbiased verification greatly improves the credibility of the assessment. Upon completion, you will receive a statement of verification certifying that your footprint has been audited.

Whilst there is far more to elaborate on in relation to Carbon Footprint Analysis, we hope this article provided some measure of clarity as to the benefit a properly conducted Carbon Footprint can produce for your organisation. Should you want to find out more about being trained to undertake a Carbon Footprint assessment for your organisation, contact Terra Firma Academy on 011 568 0768 or email them at info@terrafirma-academy.com. They run internationally accredited courses nationwide through the year or can arrange to conduct the training in-house at your organisation form groups of ten or more trainees (www.carbonfootprintanalyst.co.za).

The Future Today

The CEO’s and business leaders of today are more convinced than ever of the need to incorporate environmentally sustainable sources of energy within their business. Educated by example, it’s become painstakingly apparent that a total reliance on Eskom for a municipal supply of uninterrupted electricity in unfortunately no longer an option. While sustainable alternative energy initiatives started as a moral obligation and means of PR enhancement,  they have now become an undeniable key business differentiator in ensuring stable productivity, meeting targets and maintaining client relationships. Organisations of all sizes are finding ways to create competitive advantages through their environmental energy efficiency initiatives, resulting in lower costs, increased brand value, reduced risks, new and innovative products and services, the increased trust of shareholders and enhanced appeal and loyalty from customers and employees. But every winning ship needs a captain and crew, the cogs and wheels that turn and function syncretically to allow a flawless operation to take place. Our next series of posts will deal with the rising stars of South Africa’s Energy Future.

The Solar PV Specialists (Installers, Feasibility Assessors and Operations Managers)

We have all been made painstakingly aware that the days of relying on stable, low-cost electricity from our municipality area thing of the past.  As the bleak outlook of our country’s energy reality plays out before our eyes, so too do we see an ever-increasing amount of households and businesses considering sustainable energy options to ensure that they are less dependent on Eskom, and doing so in an environmentally friendly way. Given the versatility of situations and environments that Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels can be installed in; from areas of open expanse like the semi-deserts of the Karoo to the unutilised rooftops of big office buildings, with the right assessments and feasibility studies, Solar PV panels have near limitless installation options. Solar PV panelling has been installed to cover parking spaces giving the dual benefits of charging electric cars during daylight hours while offering shade. Advantages of solar energy include that it is a noise free, odourless and carbon emission free power source during its energy-generating phase. In addition, its proven and an established technology when compared to some of the other renewable energy options.

Under The African Sun

The energy (expense) needed for the construction of the panels can (depending on the location of installation) be recovered in 1.5 to 4 years, however, the guaranteed lifetime of the panels is up to 25 years.

 With South Africa having an average of almost 300 days of sunshine per year, and the Northern Cape and North West province possessing one of the highest direct normal irradiation (DNI) levels in the world (according to the World Radiation Data Centre). This reduces the relative cost of solar electricity in South Africa and means that the Solar PV industry will be the major renewable energy supplier in the future. In 2016, South Africa had 1,329 MW of installed solar power capacity with installed capacity is expected to reach 8,400 MW by 2030. ( Sources – “Monitoring of Renewable Energy Performance 2016”: www.nersa.org.za. and “Solar energy in South Africa – REVE”: www.evwind.es )

According to a worldwide study done by the Florida Solar Energy Research and Education Foundation, it is estimated that about seven direct full-time equivalent jobs per MW are created for the construction of commercial and utility-scale PV plants. Per MW, another 16.8 and 0.7 full-time jobs are created for manufacturing and operation respectively. These jobs will require a variety of different skills ranging from administration to electricians, structural and electrical engineers among others. In line with the South African IRP 2010 – 2030 and a total assumed solar PV capacity of 300 MW per year in the short term and a total of 4900 MW until 2025, would result in the creation of 3816 jobs in the short term and 13541 jobs until 2025.

In order to achieve and fulfil this job creation, it is important that the necessary skills required will be available to enable local manufacturing and issues around grid connectivity and transmission system capacity will not inhibit the development of PV plants in South Africa.


The Grim Reality Of South Africa’s Commercial Energy Future.

In the last few months, Eskom has declared power emergencies on a number of occasions and resorted to load-shedding throughout the country. This is because energy demand is outstripping Eskom’s supply during certain peak times; the reality is that security of a stable energy supply in South Africa is severely threatened. In addition, electricity tariffs have more than trebled since 2007 and are expected to rise continuously by at least 8% annually, doubling in the next 7 years. With the additional power plants, Medupi and Kusile, running years behind schedule and tens of billions of Rands over budget and with new investments in additional energy plants and coal mines coming too late, there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of this dark tunnel for South African energy-users.

Further cementing any hope for South Africa’s energy stability, if one looks back as far as 2014, energy analyst Chris Yellands’ commented in an AFP article entitled Eskom is Holding back the South African Economy, “The limited capacity of South Africa Energy is inhibiting the growth of the economy”. The same article describes how our economy “the biggest in Africa and a top emerging market”, is incapacitated by a crisis after crisis within the sclerotic state-owned electricity provider Eskom”. The undeniable negative impacts of our ailing electricity grid on the economy are ominous, with businesses facing ever-increasing risks of survival.

Therefore, plans to reduce long-term business risks are absolutely essential. Terra Firma Academy, which offers accredited courses in Solar PV Installation, Solar PV Feasibility and Solar PV Operations and Managment, along with Energy Efficiency Management, has seen a striking increase in businesses and individuals looking to educate and equip themselves with the knowledge and technical skills to minimise or negate the impact caused by complete reliance on Eskom’s energy supply. In addition to this, the drastic decrease in the cost of Solar PV technology has seen some of Terra Firma’s Solar PV  course graduates, alumni and clients experiencing payback periods as short as two years on their initial training and investment. Ultimately, it is irrefutable that the costs associated with not managing and monitoring energy-usage or exploring alternative energy options are not only high but, so high that they threaten the very survival of many South African enterprises.

Find out more about Terra Firma Academy’s accredited courses here: https://goo.gl/BQTNxp