Josephine Musango - Technology Assessment of Renewable Energy Sustainability in South Africa. Thesis submitted in fulfillment of Doctor of Philosophy, School of Public Leadership, Stellenbosch University, March 2012. Supervisors: Prof Alan Brent (SU), Dr. Bamikole Amigun (CSIR), Prof Leon Pretorius (UP), Dr Hans Muller (SU).
ABSTRACT: Technology assessment has changed in nature over the last four decades. It changed from an analytical tool for technology evaluation, which depends heavily on quantitative and qualitative modelling methodologies, into a strategic planning tool for policy-making concerning acceptable new technologies, which depends on participative policy problem analysis. The goal of technology assessment today is to generate policy options for solutions of organisational and societal problems, which at the operational level, utilise new technologies that are publicly acceptable; that is, viable policy options.
Energy technology assessment for sustainability is inherently a complex and dynamic process that requires a holistic and transdisciplinary approach. In the South Africa context, specifically, there is no formal and coherent approach to energy technology assessment from a sustainability perspective. Without a formal comprehensive or well integrated technology assessment approach to evaluate the sustainability of any technology, the policy-makers, technology designers, and decision-makers are faced with difficulty in terms of making reasoned decisions about the appropriate technology options.
This study developed a framework that incorporates a technology assessment approach, namely, system dynamics, within the broader scope of technology development for sustainability. The framework, termed the Systems Approach to Technology Sustainability Assessment (SATSA), integrates three key elements: technology development, sustainable development, and a dynamic systems approach. The study then provides a guiding process of applying the framework to energy technology assessment theory and practice within the context of sustainable development. Biodiesel, a cleaner burning replacement fuel, argued to potentially contribute to sustainable development, is used for the demonstration. Biodiesel development entails complex interactions of actors such as the technology developers, government at different levels, communities, as well as the natural environment. Different actions or responses in the greater system might hinder or undermine the positive effects of such a development.
Based on the SATSA framework, a Bioenergy Technology Sustainability Assessment (BIOTSA) model was developed. The BIOTSA model was used to test the outcomes of a proposed biodiesel production development in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa on selected sustainability indicators. In addition, some policy scenarios were tested to compare how they assist in improving the selected indicators. The BIOTSA model results are useful in comparing dynamic consequences resulting from a proposed biodiesel production development and the respective policies and decisions that may arise from such a development.
The testing and validation of the BIOTSA model was carried out based on structural validity, behavioural validity, and expert opinion. Potential policy scenario outcomes and their implication, on the selected sustainability indicators, were also tested. The opinions of the selected stakeholders indicated that the BIOTSA model was useful in providing an understanding of the potential impacts of the biodiesel development on selected sustainability indicators in the Eastern Cape Province. Thus, the SATSA framework can be applied for assessing sustainability of other renewable energy technologies. In addition, system dynamics provide a useful and a feasible dynamic systems approach for energy technology sustainability assessment.
Finally, the model building process and transdisciplinary nature of this study enabled the identification of the potential problems that could arise during the biodiesel production development. In addition, gaps in data and knowledge were identified and the recommendation for future work in this field is highlighted. Nevertheless, the findings of the BIOTSA model could inform policy- and decision-making in biodiesel production development in South Africa. The development of similar models for other renewable energy development efforts is thus recommended. The current efforts to facilitate the large-scale roll out of concentrated solar thermal technologies in Southern Africa, for example, would require the development of a Solar Thermal Technology Sustainability Assessment (SOTTSA) model.
Richard Orendo-Smith: Sanjeevak as a source of nutrients and phytohormones fro production and propagation of plants. Thesis submitted in fulfillment of a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in the Faculty of Agri-Sciences, March 2012. Supervisors: Dr. Andre Rozanov and Prof. Tarak Kate.
ABSTRACT: The use of cowdung as an organic fertilizer in Asian and African agriculture is an ancient practice. This explains its renewed interest, partly due to the financial inability of most farmers to purchase agrochemicals but also the ever increasing need to adopt greener technologies that do not adversely affect soil health, water quality,biodiversity and promote sustained or even increased food production. In this context, many innovative farmers have developed their own novel technologies based on the use of local resources. One such innovation is Sanjeevak (a mix of cow dung, cow urine, water and a handful of sugar); which showed very promising boosting effect on crop productivity. However, very little scientific work has so far been conducted to evaluate its effect as an organic product for soil amendments. The present study was subdivided into three main objectives. (i) To assess the fertilizing value, human health and ecological risk profiles of Sanjeevak; (ii) To screen Sanjeevak for phytohormones content using Salkowski colorimetric method and liquid chromatography – mass spectrometry (LC-MS) (iii) To evaluate Sanjeevak application at various rates on growth parameters and yield of various crops cultivated in glasshouse and field conditions. Sanjeevak was assessed for its micro and macro nutrients contents. The analysis showed the presence of micronutrients such as Mg, Na, Ca and Zn at variable concentrations and phosphorus (P) (0.007%) and potassium (K) (0.063%). However, Sanjeevak content in total nitrogen (TN) (0.11%), and total organic carbon (TOC) (0.71%) was very low; suggesting that it may be a viable source of nutrients only if applied at higher and consistent rates or alternatively by improving its formulation. Also, Sanjeevak was analysed for its microbiological characteristics and level of heavy metals content in comparison to the strictest legislations that regulate the use and application of wastewater sludge to agricultural land in South Africa. The findings showed that heavy metals, which averaged from 0.03±0.01 for Arsenic (As) to 4.74±0.92 mg/kg for Zinc (Zn) and feacal coliform was estimated at 1.2×102 CFU/g dry matter measured were considerably below the threshold (for Arsenic between 40 to 75 mg/kg dry weight; for Zinc between 2800 to 7500 mg/kg dry weight) and faecal coliform bacteria between 1000 to 1×107 CFU/g dry weight for application as a source of soil amendments. Studies investigating the detection and concentration of phytohormones in Sanjeevak were carried out. In using the Salkowski colorimetric method to detect and quantify auxins from Sanjeevak and its composites (cow urine and dung), the results showed the presence of indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) at variable concentrations ranging from 20.38±2.1 ppm in cow urine, 20.1±6.6 ppm in cow dung, Sanjeevak 17.90±1.1 ppm to up to 138.31±12.6 ppm when LTRP was added to Sanjeevak bacterial cultures and by varying parameters such as incubaton time and temperature. Screening of the above mentioned samples for IAA using LC-MS analysis validated earlier findings. Further analysis of these results strongly emphasized the influence of bacteria in Sanjeevak in producing IAA. Trials were carried out both in the glasshouse and the field. In the greenhouse, different Sanjeevak application rates consistently confirmed its root promoting effect on crops such as tomato, cucumber and grapevine and increased wheat yield independent of the nutrients it contains. Marginal increases were recorded between treatments under field conditions; for example compost and compost + Sanjeevak 20.35 and 20.61 t/ha; and 2.46 and 2.60 t/ha compared to the control 11.67 t/ha and 1.29 t/ha respectively for tomato and maize. However, statistical analysis of the results obtained, revealed that there was no difference between treatments (control, compost, Sanjeevak and compost + Sanjeevak) for the same crop tested due to the high coefficient of variation of the data. Therefore, the use of Sanjeevak as an organic source of soil amendments may be considered as a cheaper alternative to effective microorganisms (EM) technology made up of local and natural resources. As observed in the study, it may be best used in combination with a reliable source of plant nutrients.
Sumetee Pahwa-Gajjar: Building Corporate Resilience - case study of Spier Holding's seach for a lower-carbon future. Thesis submitted in fulfillment of the requirements of a Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Economic and Management Science, Stellenbosch University, December 2012. Supervisor: Mark Swilling.
ABSTRACT: A study of the sustainability journey of Spier Holdings, a well known wine and leisure business in South Africa, offers a unique opportunity for interrogating corporate drivers for a lower carbon future. The business has established sustainability as a brand identity, declared carbon neutrality as a macro organisational goal in response to the global challenge of climate change, and sought scientifically and technologically appropriate ways of addressing this challenge. A preliminary analysis revealed various initiatives that are in place for measuring and reducing the business’ environmental impact, including carbon emissions. However, an in-depth study of the establishment’s environmental performance over two decades showed inconsistencies in year-on-year reporting, delays in shifting the supply chain, and gaps in implementation, particularly in the area of energy efficiency and adoption of renewable energy technology. Understanding and interrogating the business’ sustainability journey through a systems ecology and corporate citizenship framework proved inadequate. The case highlights that organizational goals for environmental performance areas, including the aim of carbon neutrality, and sustainability reporting are not sufficient catalysts for change. A complexity-based resilience approach allowed the business to be understood as an adaptive system. The sustainability story tracks different phases of a modified adaptive renewal cycle, which also determine the dominant management paradigms, strategic responses and forms of collaboration during each phase. Spier’s sustainability journey was found to be underpinned by a quest for corporate resilience which includes the resilience of the business (enterprise resilience) and of the social-ecological system within which it resides (SES resilience). The business responded to interdependent risks and uncertainties in its internal and external contexts, through investment strategies in key areas of corporate environmental performance. As a contribution to new knowledge, this thesis proposes an integrated corporate resilience framework for building enterprise resilience and ecological sustainability. This framework, and the accompanying mapping tool, reveals deep, ecological drivers for Spier’s environmental performance across corporate areas of lower carbon emissions, water sustainability, wastewater treatment, solid waste recycling and ecological custodianship. The framework is recommended for use by similar businesses, eager to configure their relationship with natural resources and ecosystem services, and by scholars, for investigating corporate performance towards environmental sustainability.
Jeremy Wakeford: Socioeconomic implications of global oil depletion for South Africa: vulnerabilities, impacts and transition to sustainability. Thesis submitted in fulfillment of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in the Faculty of Economic and Management Science, Stellenbosch University, December 2012. Supervisor: Mark Swilling. Abstract: Oil is the quintessential resource in the modern industrial economy. It accounts for a third of world primary energy, fuels 95% of global transport systems, sustains a highly mechanised agribusiness and food distribution industry, and provides the feedstock for a staggering array of petrochemical products. Historically, global economic growth has been closely coupled with consumption of energy in general and oil in particular. Yet oil is a finite resource subject to depletion, which has profound implications for the long-term sustainability of industrial civilisation. This dissertation addresses a serious dearth of attention given to this vital subject within South African energy, economic and policy discourses. The overarching aims are to understand the implications of global oil depletion for socioeconomic welfare in South Africa and to propose viable strategies and policies for mitigating and adapting to potential negative impacts. A comparative evaluation of three fields of study found that neoclassical economics is limited by its monistic and reductionist approach and its failure to adequately incorporate energy into its key theoretical models, whereas ecological economics and the socioecological systems approach together provide an appropriate, holistic lens for analysing the role of energy in socioeconomic systems. In this view, energy is the master resource: it is a pre-requisite for economic activity and societal complexity. A review of the literature on global oil depletion finds that a peak and decline in world oil production appears imminent, while world oil exports most likely peaked in 2005. Moreover, the energy return on (energy) investment (EROI) for global oil production is on a declining trend. The world oil peak thus marks the end of the era of cheap and abundant oil. Increasing oil scarcity will likely be reflected in oil prices following a rising trend with heightened volatility. While there are many potential substitutes for oil, all have significant limitations, most have lower EROI than oil, and it may take decades to scale them up sufficiently. Many aspects of the South African socioeconomic system are either directly or indirectly dependent on petroleum fuels, while structural features of the economy and society render them vulnerable to external shocks. Historical evidence and empirical models suggest that oil price and supply shocks will have debilitating socioeconomic impacts. Under business-as-usual policies and behaviours, future oil scarcity will likely lead at best to a gradual contraction in the economy with rising unemployment and inflation, and at worst to systemic collapse of interconnected critical infrastructure systems. A comprehensive range of mitigation measures are proposed, including accelerated investments in renewable energy and electrified mass transport, agro-ecological farming, greening the economy, monetary system reform, and rationing schemes to protect the most vulnerable members of society. Together these measures can build resilience to shocks and gradually decouple economic activity from petroleum consumption. A successful societal transition from a fossil fuel based industrial regime to a sustainable socioeconomic regime requires purposive government intervention, the promotion of sustainability-oriented innovations in technology and institutions, and the political will to surmount obstacles such as powerful vested interests and socio-technical lock-in.
Vuyo Mahlati - Establishing Viable and Sustainable Rural Economic Development Programmes in a Competitive Global Economy: Analysis of Marual Commercialisation in South Africa. Thesis submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for a Phd in Public Management and Planning. Summary: Rural poverty seems to get worse despiteescalating expenditures on rural development. The problem is that rural development is regarded as a welfare function rather than an economic opportunity. Based on a detailed critique of existing theories of rural development, a transdisciplinary case study of the marula value chain is used to conceptualize an alternative theory of rural development. It is concluded that rural households engaged in marula cultivation could gain a much larger share of the value chain if they could access appropriate funding and institutional support. The result would be rural economic development that links global and local markets.