South Africa Allegedly Stolen Coal. Source Twitter

“South Africa is the perfect laboratory” for Green End of Coal Plans

Essay by Eric Worrall

UN funded climate activists are trying to turn South Africa into a playground for their failed energy ideas.

Coal’s executioners gather to plot the kill

By Nick O’Malley
January 7, 2023 — 12.10am

Coal’s new high price might be creating short-term profits, but it is also destroying demand.

Countries such as China and India are still building plants permitted and contracted over the past decade, but are rapidly turning towards renewables. At the end of 2021, the coal industry’s key financiers – China, Japan and South Korea – declared they would no longer invest in new offshore coal plants.

And with coal costs so high, even China’s new plants are running far below capacity.

Under the so-called Just Energy Transition Investment Partnership (or JET IP, as it is now referred to in the jargon-rich world of climate diplomacy) the United States, Britain, Germany, France and the European Union agreed to provide $US8.5 billion ($12.59 billion) in grants and cheap loans as seed money for a fund to purchase and close South Africa’s coal fleet and replace it with renewables.

South Africa is the perfect laboratory for such a program because it has some of the world’s best access to sun and wind. And because it has, even by a dirty industry’s standards, a particularly dirty coal fleet. As a result, a dollar spent greening South Africa cuts far more carbon than a dollar spent in, say, Europe.

The model is also in keeping with one of the Paris Agreement’s core principles, which recognises that nations have “common but differentiated responsibilities” in tackling climate change.

Read more:

South Africa has horrible problems with energy supply and crime, organised criminals are substituting low quality coal for high grade coal on a vast scale, and allegedly selling the stolen coal to Europe. So I’m not sure how adding high value, easily detachable solar panels to South Africa’s energy mix will in any way help their situation.

And Europe desperately needs that allegedly stolen coal. For all their green rhetoric, Germany is so desperate for coal, they are on the verge of demolishing a village to expand a coal mine, to try to plug their energy shortages.

I don’t know what the word is for turning the suffering of South Africa into a laboratory for testing ideas which have utterly failed at home. Hypocrisy doesn’t seem to cover the full enormity and ugliness of what they are doing.

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January 8, 2023 2:10 am
  • Ayn Rand saw the takeover of democratic institutions and government by pseudo -marxist pseudo liberal moochers and looters. Unfortunately she cast the big freebooting capitalists as a bastion of freedom against them. IN this universe the big swashbucklers are firmly in the camp of the looters and will enslave or liquidate tjhose who do not deserve the privileges of their elite club. Just remember Orwell ” If you want a vision of the future imagine a boot stamping on your face – forever”
Reply to  alastairgray29yahoocom
January 8, 2023 3:36 am

As we have seen in this instance government has joined up with big business to shaft the little guy and stomp on his face forever.

Bill Powers
Reply to  alastairgray29yahoocom
January 8, 2023 6:24 am

It is the essential problem with Ayn’s thinking. She forgot that absolute power corrupts absolutely. The free market she champion grew and grew into a Corporatocracy where the massive holding companies consolidate the major corporations and buy/run out all the small business owners with a major assist from the best Bureaucracy their massive wealth can acquire. Politicians are simply cheap puppets owned by the wealth holders who appoint the Corporate henchmen that install and run the permanent bureaucracy.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Bill Powers
January 8, 2023 7:18 am

Sounds an awful lot like the original “Rollerball” with James Caan.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Bill Powers
January 8, 2023 8:24 am

The answer lies in neutering government, not eliminating capitalism.

Reply to  Dave Fair
January 8, 2023 4:01 pm

Please use the proper term, FREE enterprise.

There is only one type of “capitalism” a term invented by Marx as a pejorative and that is crony capitalism which is what Bill is speaking of.

Reply to  Dave Fair
January 9, 2023 12:32 am

A democratic government, in absence of aristocracy, is the only bulwark between the population and the internationalist warlords who value you as a parasite on the ground beneath your feet, which they absolutely need to exploit.
The scum ruling you right now, were carefully chosen specifically to disenamour you of democracy as a viable political system. Your government is not corrupt, the puppets appointed to pretend at running the place are.
Just remember folk: We are scheduled for “spontaneous uprising against a government we have learned to fear and distrust”. Or have we forgotten Event 201 scenario?
Stop hating your government, the people who taught you that, are going to ask you to “burn it all down”, so all records of their contracts and agreements can be lost. Afterwards, the “Independent Judiciary” will be sure to accept their version of the books, and we will have nothing to argue with.

Reply to  Bill Powers
January 8, 2023 3:32 pm

I don’t think that the term crony capitalism had been invented at that stage. It’s not capitalism, it is oligarchs.

Reply to  Streetcred
January 8, 2023 4:05 pm

Yep, Look what the oligarchs (Zuckerburg) did in the 2020 election.

Look what they do every day (google, utube, facebook and until recently Twitter, although the jury is still out on that) by stopping the BAD information from getting to the masses.

Reply to  alastairgray29yahoocom
January 8, 2023 8:38 am

Having money is not enough to make one a capitalist.

Alexy Scherbakoff
January 8, 2023 2:22 am

Lots of recyclable copper in those windmills.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
January 8, 2023 7:00 am


That’s ok, EVs don’t need gearboxes /sarc

Last edited 30 days ago by strativarius
David Wojick
Reply to  strativarius
January 8, 2023 9:41 am

There is already a big black market in stolen EV charger cables. Lots of copper.

It doesnot add up
January 8, 2023 2:48 am

More a case of wasps around the honeypot, isn’t it? At least until the Chinese muscle their way in. They’ll be more like hornets.

January 8, 2023 3:18 am

I agree. The vulnerable need the most help, not to be experimental labs.

More widely, does the journalist in the SMH believe that China has really built out, or at least approved, all the coal powered power planes it will ever build? It would be lovely if it was true, but I doubt it. And has he noticed that Germany is turning back to coal? I know that the intentions of climate reporters are good, but they rarely have any sense of the real world. Hiss was, frankly, a very silly article.


January 8, 2023 3:19 am

“UN funded climate activists … “

And where is the UN getting the money? Maybe we’ve found a new target for defunding … 

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  rovingbroker
January 8, 2023 3:37 am

Our governments are doing the funding.

Reply to  rovingbroker
January 11, 2023 2:29 am

It’s not a new target. The US Republican administrations have been trying to defund it for decades because it is so corrupt. It is not worthy of becoming our DeFacto World government as it is full of Socialists and neo-Marxists and under increasing control by China. We will just have to minimise the damage it does through its fake Climate change agenda 21 etc.

January 8, 2023 3:43 am

South Africa has enormous natural gas deposits under the Karoo and off the south coast. To exploit it would revolutionise South Africa in terms of ubiquitous, clean and cheap energy. Unfortunately a solid core of rich, white liberals have adopted the western “Green” mantra and have been able to keep the places they love to holiday in out of the clutches of “Big Energy” and so no downstream economic benefits and unemployment remains at over 40%.

Reply to  Keitho
January 8, 2023 6:03 am

Chickens, hatching .counting caveat. Agreed that there may be enormous Karoo Shale Gas potential. Not however proven. 10 years ago I was looking as a geophysicist at shale gas potential in some Turkish basins. We reckoned to establish a shale gas play we needed about 20 wells to establish the viability of a particular Siluruian gas and oil play The rock was rich enough, at the right level of maturity but the mechanical properties of the shale needed to be right for fracking. but we still have not drilled these wells There is a certain brittleness and granulosity that you need for it to work Just imagine fracking chewing gum. Iit just would not work. That’s why we blow bubbles with it.
The same caveat goes for shale in the UK Poland, France, Eastern Europe .Time to crack on with a drilling program for these basins and see if we really can frack our way out of the hole that the Green Blob has dumped us in.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Keitho
January 8, 2023 8:28 am

Is it just me, but does South Africa appear to becoming a kleptocracy, much like the rest of Africa?

[Wrote this before reading strativarius, below.]

Last edited 30 days ago by Dave Fair
Reply to  Dave Fair
January 8, 2023 4:07 pm

“becoming”?? Like 30 years ago.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Drake
January 8, 2023 4:32 pm

I watched the whole thing unfold from Rhodesia thru SA in real time. The talent drain just continues to accelerate. Not my problem.

Reply to  Keitho
January 8, 2023 3:42 pm

A handful of rich white liberals, just the same as everywhere else in the world, and just going along with their governments thieving in order to preserve their own wealth at the expense of everybody else. I read now that even the big mining unions are turning against the ANC government … the entire public infrastructure is in disarray … The holiday resort of Durban had nearly no tourists over the Christmas holidays due to the high levels of bacteria in the ocean curtesy of failed sewerage treatment, they just let the raw sewerage run into the ocean.
McKinsey Charged in South African Corruption Case – The New York Times (

Reply to  Streetcred
January 8, 2023 5:04 pm

Eskom’s former CEO, Andre de Ruyter, allegedly survived an attempt on his life in December when his coffee was laced with poison, a day before news of his resignation leaked to the public.

Just sent to me … Eskom’s De Ruyter survives attempt on his life – LNN – Northglen News

January 8, 2023 4:16 am

“South Africa is the perfect laboratory “

Really? What about cold hard reality?

“Andre de Ruyter’s resignation, announced by Eskom on 14th December 2022, comes after Minister Gwede Mantashe accusing him of allowing load shedding to continue while “actively agitating for the overthrow of the state”. Remember that corruption is at the heart of Eskom’s problems, and de Ruyter was making inroads into rooting out corruption, so for Mantashe to blame De Ruyter for acting like a “policeman” as a reason for load shedding is just ludicrous.”

 the load-shedding schedule is often updated multiple times a day to keep up with the never-ending unit failures and is at an all-time high despite a new Eskom board having been appointed.

A shortage of money and lack of funding from the government has forced Eskom to cut back on maintenance and repairs. This has been exacerbated by corruption and theft of equipment and fuel on a grand scale which seems to be an ongoing problem. Aging power stations have become targets for sophisticated theft operations, involving corrupt officials, trucking companies, and police, stealing fuel to the value of millions of ZAR.

Eskom lacks key technical skills and the required competencies required to perform maintenance proficiently

It’s a real mess and that’s just the politics of it.

“By supporting Ramaphosa and his attempts to quash the judicial process, the ANC is undermining the rule of law in the same way that it did under Zuma. In the process, it is accelerating South Africa’s descent towards state failure.”

If SA is the perfect laboratory, you have to wonder exactly what criteria they are using.

It doesnot add up
Reply to  strativarius
January 8, 2023 5:36 am

I just read that the SA police are investigating the possibility that the head of Eskom was poisoned.

Reply to  It doesnot add up
January 8, 2023 5:43 am

That’s their perfect laboratory.

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  strativarius
January 8, 2023 7:19 am

South Africa illustrates how an African country with a strong and successful first world sector can be collapsed by crime and corruption and communist ideology.
•  Electricity supply
•  Rail transport
•  Air transport
•  Harbour management
•  Water provision, purification and sewage system
•  Building and maintaining roads
•  Municipalities
•  Failed repossessed farms
•  Education
and the list goes on and on and on.

Here are the details of one of these areas of failure from the official passenger rail report:
Of the country’s 590 stations, only 134 are functional,
323 have been completely vandalised and there’s no word on the state of the other 133;
of the 40 train lines, 21 have stopped altogether;
of the country’s 2 228 kilometres of signal cables, some 1 100 kilometres have been stolen;
and of the more than 4 000 coaches in its fleet, only 800 are operational and in service.

Passenger numbers have declined dramatically. In 2011,
Prasa was handling 522 million passenger trips a year;
in the past financial year, it managed just 17 million — a 97 per cent drop.

As I keep saying, Africa’s greatest problem is not climate change but corruption, crime and incompetence of those governing and their cadres who are given top jobs and government contracts. No one is held accountable but promoted or shifted to other departments when someone squeals. When an Indian lady who audited a large hospital in the Johannesburg area reported the fraudulent activities in 2021, she was murdered. There seems to be a cover up in the investigation.

Reply to  Michael in Dublin
January 8, 2023 7:42 am

That’s a one party state in all but name.

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  strativarius
January 8, 2023 8:00 am

Here is a comment about ESKOM the South African electricity utility:
As everyone now knows, Eskom is controlled by criminal syndicates that make it impossible to save the institution. It is in its death spiral.
(Helen Zille –

Reply to  Michael in Dublin
January 8, 2023 4:10 pm

South Africa, on it’s was back to becoming a sh!t ho!e country.

January 8, 2023 4:58 am

It’s updated mercantilism: send us your (cheap and useful) coal, and we’ll send you (expensive and uneconomic) solar panels and wind turbines.

January 8, 2023 5:48 am

So, they are openly admitting they are racists determined to kill black people. Got it.

michael hart
Reply to  2hotel9
January 8, 2023 6:21 am

You beat me to it. Their plan is blatantly wacist colonialism, by their own standards.

January 8, 2023 6:49 am

If this is truly supposed to be an experiment, the entire project and infrastructure should be made ONLY with “green power”. Let’s see how far they get with that!!

Last edited 30 days ago by Justacanuk
Kevin Kilty
January 8, 2023 6:57 am

Quite a few comments on this page seem to be missing the true picture. This is not really an example of corrupt big business capturing government, but rather State capture of a big and essential business.

The stupendous corruption and incompetence of the ANC is a big leg-up on this destructive project. Without their bumbling interference Eskom might have had the ability to maintain their power plants and replace old ones with modern advanced ultrasupercritical plants. Unfortunately the money for maintenance went to replacing the experienced management with political cronies and bloating the Eskom workforce with badly needed ANC voters.

Of course, if you read South Africannewspapers or watch television you will see that the green thinking cult has captured the country too.

Last edited 30 days ago by Kevin Kilty
Reply to  Kevin Kilty
January 8, 2023 11:51 am

State capture of big and essential business is very true. I’ve been involved in SA for the past 35 years, first as a software developer and later as technical support for clinical trial studies. The slide down the hill has been slow and steady, but after Mandela died (his legacy was absolutely destroyed), things picked up. I started to notice that the educated class (mostly white) was emigrating to anywhere but Africa.They have been replaced (at all levels of government and business) by sycophants and toadies who complete the cycle of corruption. Hence the decay of the infrastructure. Having a neighbor state like Zimbabwe does not help the situation at all.

Peta of Newark
January 8, 2023 7:35 am

Quote:”South Africa is the perfect laboratory
So was Spain
So was Germany
So was SoCal
So was Australia
So was Texas

Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 8, 2023 4:11 pm

Good one Peta!

January 8, 2023 7:46 am

It’s a win, win situation. They get to pretend to be helping the environment while keeping Africans poor. Keeping Africans poor keeps the birthrates high so they have a nice supply of “climate refugees“ to fit their narrative.

Truth Hurts
January 8, 2023 8:01 am

Anyone who thinks anywhere in Africa could be a testbed for anything is clearly out of touch with reality…oh wait! We are talking about the alternative energy source crowd here.

Clue: What isn’t nailed down is stolen or broken. What is nailed down just takes a little longer to steal or break…..

January 8, 2023 8:02 am

They are trying to bail out the ANC and its many cronies.

Dave Andrews
January 8, 2023 8:09 am

November 2021 Germany pledges billions of euros to help wean South Africa off coal. Mid 2022 Germany spending billions of euros on importing South African coal.

South Africa has the 8th largest coal reserves in the world. Germany has the 6th largest. In Africa Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Tanzania, Botswana and DR Congo all have greater coal reserves than the UK. Zambia, Egypt, Niger, Central African Republic and Malawi also have large reserves.

If African coal is good enough for Germany why is it not good enough for Africa?

Last edited 30 days ago by Dave Andrews
January 8, 2023 8:33 am

While ever there are corrupt, military governed regimes in Africa, the UN and it’s edicts will continue to prosper there – they know by gifting western cash to dubious leaders, they will adopt anything they are being told to, regardless whether it serves the masses, makes any sense, or not

We can only hope the masses eventually see through the smoke & mirrors and actually decide they want cheap, plentiful, secure and reliable energy and make it happen

January 8, 2023 8:54 am

South Africa, like Zimbabwe before it, is for all intents and purposes, a failed state.
I suppose it’s appropriate for them to have a failed electric grid as well.

January 8, 2023 9:03 am

South Africa’s electrical power problems go back a lot further and politics unintentionally? aggravated the situation.

Presuming my memory serves me correctly, in 1991 they were one of the top ten power producers with a design capacity of 45’000 megawatts employing some 10’600 employees.

They built up to some 47’600 employees, of which 3’000 left the last two years, and ESKOM is now only producing about 60% of their design capacity. Over and above servicing a lot of new direct customers, it would appear that part of this increase was because the Dept. of Labour insisted that 50% of the labour force must be female and that the white to black ratio should represent the average in SA.

Up to that stage power stations would be taking one of their units off line at a time to do the necessary and essential precautionary maintenance as specified by the manufacturers. Understandably, the women did not like working in the 30 to 40 C and were instead put into offices, and senior experienced staff that saw a bleak career future ahead of them found ready employment worldwide.

Presumably? that resulted in a shortage of maintenance staff and why one of the not so bright top management team said it would make more sense to instead repair and do the maintenance work when they broke down. This made their budget requests look good for a few years before reality caught up with them/us, and, aggravated by a lot of other problems, including those mentioned in the blog, resulted in the present situation.

I understand from a recent well researched news article that although the coal fired plants are old, most are still within their expected lifespan and that problems are mainly due to lack of scheduled maintenance and experienced staff. Obviously their generation capacity must be replaced very shortly and maybe why the grasping for any form of new generation capacity, especially if part funded by third parties.

Finally, do not even start to talk about the two new (biggest in the world?) coal power stations that have come in at over twice their (inflated) budgets and timing and are still not fully operational.

January 8, 2023 9:22 am

I don’t care what energy source they use as long as it’s not nuclear. I’m too pro-nuclear to risk its future by allowing a criminally corrupt regime to operate such a facility when they have so much trouble maintaining other infrastructure. Their existing nuclear plants have capacity factors of about 80% when well run nuclear plants have capacity factors exceeding 90%.

David Wojick
January 8, 2023 9:34 am

My understanding is that 97% of that aid is in loans so yes are just getting a ton of dept. And of course intermittent renewables cannot “replace” dispatchable coal fired power. Amazing how people keep saying this.

David Wojick
Reply to  David Wojick
January 8, 2023 9:39 am

Should be: They are getting a ton of debt.

This is why debt relief is now a central feature of the COP talks. Most of this aid the developing countries have been getting is loans. Kiss that green money goodby.

Reply to  David Wojick
January 9, 2023 12:43 am

ALL “aid” comes to Africa as debt. All of it. Make me furious when Americans pretend we are taking food from their mouths every time their “guvmint gives us free stuff”. We are at a stage where the World Wildlife Fund is occupying millions of acres of our pawned landscape, under the pretense of wildlife reserves, where tourism is curtailed or even forbidden. UN Peace Keepers are notorious for watching armed gangs serially rape and plunder villagers, acting violently only if someone, anyone, even a lost child, goes near corporate property.

Dr. Bob
January 8, 2023 10:37 am

Sasol was a great company for many years producing 200,000 bbl/day of fuels and chemicals from coal in South Africa. They had top notch engineering and chemistry at the time. But the change in SA regime to eliminate apartheid had the side effect of causing a massive brain drain of quality people. Many went to the US and I worked with quite a number of them over the years. They left because there were few opportunities to advance in the new culture and they saw the demise of their society. But now the US and Canada benefit from thier experience in industry.

January 8, 2023 12:42 pm

According to the author, climate change is creating warm temps in Europe and cold temps in North America. Heads I win. Tails you lose. Oh ya, and La Niña is creating cold temps in Australia. I think I got it.

January 8, 2023 1:11 pm

The whole “JUST energy transition” (JET IP) reminds me of a line I read on a new Subtack (“environMENTAL”) a few weeks ago.

“The data show – clearly – this is not “just Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.” It’s not “just” a temporary dislocation as part of the energy “transition” to renewables. And it is certainly not – in terms of the poorest in the advanced and developing world – a “just transition”.

January 8, 2023 3:29 pm

It doesn’t surprise me, that government must rank as one of the most corrupt ever in the world. They have presided over the total destruction of that economy and public infrastructure.

January 8, 2023 4:25 pm

Some 30-50 years ago we had the “golden years” in terms of how major progress was made in society. In simplest terms, society let it be knoiwn what we wanted. A group in society, let’s call them progressives. conveted those needs into reality when reality was possible. Example: People wanted cheap, reliable electricity supplies and cheap, reliable devices like TV sets and electric dishwashers to hang off the ends of the power lines. The progressives obliged on both counts, with the invention and adoption of nuclear energy and the requested appliances that did such a good job of removing some tedium from the lives of the people.
One essential ingredient in the golden years was choice, People were much more free than now, to do their own thing, to invent a better clothes washer and to market it. There were people labelled as early adopters, people called inventors, people called as innovation financiers and optimistic future planners. Corporations often developed in-house R&D departments to widen their ability to provide what society demanded.
People could choose to do their own thing and risk their financial futures, knowing that if they failed, little stopped them from tyring again.
Move to the present. The biggest social change I have seen in my 80 years is the growth of the number of people paid to tell others what they can and cannot do. Intellectual freedom to do ones own thing k had been rather stifled by a growing bureaucracy and social media onlookers that cannot exist without telling the free thinkers what the new rules are – and enforcing them. Just read that is happening to Dr Jordan Petersen in Canada and ask yourself if that is right.
We have the recent vile idea of the ‘cancel culture’ where those who think for themselves or think differently are at risk of punishment by expressing free, independent thoughts. Loss of employment is one punishment. People have to take that seriously, for it goes on their c.v. and makes a restart harder.
If we want to return to the golden years, we have to recognise anew the good points and bad of those past years and try to revive the good points. I see next to no effort by society to do this improvement. Dominantly, we are opressed by intellectual killjoys who lust for control over others, without contibuting much of positive value from themselves. It is sick, it is wrong.
Geoff S

Edward Katz
January 8, 2023 6:24 pm

As I recall, S. Africa experienced power shortages a few years ago because a number of their coal plants had to be shut down due to poor maintenance. Then it was revealed that the money from foreign aid that was supposed to be used for this maintenance was being skimmed off by the officials in charge of these facilities. So what makes anyone believe the same type of graft and corruption won’t occur if renewable energy plants are built, especially in a country with S. Africa’s record of lawlessness?

Eric Schollar
January 9, 2023 2:51 am

I’m a South African and I’m relieved that this version of neo-colonialism is getting more international attention, even if its only on WUWT! Judith Curry recently remarked that the objective of the West (WEF, WB, IMF, USAID, EU, etc.) to deny the use of fossil fuels to countries whose former colonial masters achieved the highest standard of living in history on just these fuels was an enormous global crime. Instead they offer us a mountain of U$ to switch to solar and wind. There is no justification for this arrogance since there is manifestly no ‘climate crisis’. So they offer us an unworkable solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Terribly ironic is that we were one of the very first countries to design and make practical small modular (pebble bed) reactors. We should have already been energy self-sufficient and exporting nuclear technology to the rest of Africa. Thus freeing them, and us, from reliance on the West for our most basic needs.

Eric Schollar
Reply to  Eric Schollar
January 9, 2023 3:05 am

PS. I agree with just about all of the comments about SA below. A corrupt, racist and incompetent government, like king Midas in reverse, has despoiled everything it has touched. And – urged on by the academic and progressive left along with private sector opportunists – is currently expectantly looking forward to the next renewables cow they will drain.

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