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Solar Water Heating & Enviromental News in South Africa


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Editorial Insight: Time to act

The return of load-shedding, together with what is a truly dire prognosis for system stability, should surely have been the wake-up call government required to finally begin implementing its very own Integrated Resource Plan 2019 (IRP 2019). Instead, the only indication that the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy is even slightly alive to the crisis is the issuance of a Request for Information (RFI) for emergency supply solutions.

Despite IRP gaps, the outlook for solar in SA has strengthened

One of the first questions posed to Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe after Cabinet finally approved the 2019 edition of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP 2019) in October related to the ongoing capacity addition gaps for solar photovoltaic (PV). While the IRP 2019 envisages total solar PV additions of 8 288 MW over the period to 2030, representing a material scale-up from the current installed base of 1 474 MW, the plan does not envisage any utility-scale installations in ...

Despite IRP gaps, the outlook for solar in SA has strengthened

One of the first questions posed to Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe after Cabinet finally approved the 2019 edition of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP 2019) in October related to the ongoing capacity addition gaps for solar photovoltaic (PV). While the IRP 2019 envisages total solar PV additions of 8 288 MW over the period to 2030, representing a material scale-up from the current installed base of 1 474 MW, the plan does not envisage any utility-scale installations in ...

Malawi seeking a strategic investor for 350 MW hydropower plant

The Malawi Government is seeking a strategic investor to develop the 350 MW Mpatamanga Hydro Power Plant on the Shire River, which is estimated to cost US$472-million.  

Company provides rooftop PV systems in S Africa

Rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems are extremely exposed and therefore especially vulnerable to damage caused by the direct and indirect results of lightning strikes. Since the PV system is directly connected to the electrical installation of the building, lightning strikes can have severe consequences for people inside the building, as well as the structure itself and the electrical devices contained inside it.

Investment value of solar water heating increasing

With the cost of electricity increasing, solar water heating systems manufacturer Uber Solar MD James Green says such systems for geysers are a good long-term investment for commercial use. “The payback on water heating conversions of geysers to solar is between 20 months to three years. With a projected life span of up to 25 years, solar water heating represents probably the best investment any home could make.”

Solar streetlights cater for lighting requirements

Lighting manufacturer BEKA Schréder’s locally designed and manufactured solar street lights for outdoor residential and public applications provide a full customisable option to suit all off-grid solar lighting requirements. BEKA Schréder marketing manager Grant Combrink says the BEKA Solar, combined with the Ziya luminaire, provides a reliable lighting solution with a high Ingress Protection (IP) level 65 that withstands high ambient temperatures and vandalism (IK 10).

Additional development zones for wind and solar PV

The second phase of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) energy in South Africa proposes three additional Renewable Energy Development Zones (REDZs) for wind and solar photovoltaic energy projects.  The REDZs support the responsible implementation of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP 2019) that was recently gazetted by the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy on October 17.

Solar viable amid power outages

Power outages and policy uncertainty remain a continued threat to business and economic growth, and it remains to be seen how new State-owned power utility Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter can work with the government to stabilise the energy provider. One thing is certain, power will not be getting any cheaper. Solar has now become viable, if not an essential, option for business as capital investment costs decrease and solar providers compete to offer solutions.   

SAB, AB InBev ahead of renewable energy target for 2020

Beer maker South African Breweries (SAB) and its parent company AB InBev Africa have announced that its breweries across South Africa will have on site solar facilities by the end of this month. This forms part of a multibillion-rand investment to ensure 100% of electricity requirements at AB InBev's manufacturing sites across Africa come from renewable sources by 2025.

Ramaphosa proclaims 'new era' of self-generation

Creamer Media’s Chanel de Bruyn speaks to Engineering News Editor Terence Creamer about Business Unity South Africa’s statements to President Cyril Ramaphosa that inadequate electricity supply is the biggest risk for businesses and the South African economy and the President’s commitment to ensuring businesses and households are able to invest in self-generation.  

Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan agree to US-brokered deal over Nile dam

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan said they reached an agreement on the operation of a giant dam on a Nile tributary, a sign of easing tensions in the region. The countries issued a joint statement along with the US and World Bank, which had participated as observers at meetings in Washington this week. The pact lays out a plan to fill the reservoir in stages – a process crucial to ensuring a reliable flow to Egypt, which depends on the Nile for almost all of its fresh water.

UK pledges new aid to help build green cities across Africa

The United Kingdom has pledged new aid towards building green cities across Africa with quality infrastructure to help the continent reach its economic potential. The announcement from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) came as its secretary Alok Sharma visited Kenya ahead of the UK–Africa investment summit in London on January 20.

Zimbabwe power utility in talks with Afreximbank on debt plan

Zimbabwe’s State electricity utility is in talks with the African Export–Import Bank to help clear $70-million of arrears it owes power producers in neighbouring South Africa and Mozambique. Zesa Holdings needs to repay the debt to avoid having supplies shut off. Zimbabwe relies on imports because dilapidated plants and a drought-induced hyrdopower shortage have left the country unable to produce enough energy to meet requirements.

Sawep seeking wind turbine suppliers for Eastern Cape minigrid

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy and the South Africa National Energy Development Institute, through the South African Wind Energy Programme (Sawep), have invited proposals for work on a minigrid in the Raymond Mhlaba local municipality, in the Eastern Cape. The Eastern Cape provincial government and the Lower Saxony State of Germany have worked on a minigrid pilot project to electrify a small village called Upper Blinkwater.

Renewables’ share in global power should more than double by 2030

The share of renewables in global power should more than double by 2030 to advance the global energy transformation, achieve sustainable development goals and create a pathway to climate safety, the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) says. Renewable electricity should supply 57% of global power by the end of the decade, up from 26% today, the agency suggests.

Ethiopia seeks mediation over Nile dam deadlock with Egypt

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister asked South Africa’s President to intervene in the Nile dam deadlock between Egypt and his country. The three countries and neighboring Sudan are being hosted by the US Treasury for negotiations in Washington on Monday.

Enel Green Power breaks wind, solar installation record

Renewable energy developer Enel Green Power (EGP) set a new record in 2019 by building about 3 029 MW of new renewables capacity globally. This new capacity was set to generate around 9.3 TWh/y, avoiding the emission of 5.85-million tons of carbon dioxide a year into the atmosphere, contributing to the Enel group’s goal of generating about 57% of its production from renewable sources by 2022.

South Africa has huge 'green fuels' potential. But it needs to act now

In this opinion piece, first published in The Conversation, professors David Walwyn and Rod Crompton make the case for South Africa to pay greater research and development attention to the production of green hydrogen using a combination of wind and solar power and electrolysers. In addition, they call for a combined government-Sasol effort to pilot the conversion of that green hydrogen into cleaner aviation fuels using Sasol’s installed Fischer Tropsch fleet. South Africa needs to seriously start thinking about shifting its energy focus. This is for two reasons.

Ethiopia warns of last chance to reach agreement on $5bn dam

Ethiopia has warned of a “last chance” to reach an agreement on the filling and operation of the $5-billion dam being built by Addis Ababa (the country’s commercial and cultural hub) on the Nile.  According to Anadolu Agency (AA), Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan have been in talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) since March 2015, when they adopted a Declaration of Principles, including the principle of “no significant harm” on downstream countries. 

Saudi Arabia launches third round of renewables procurement programme

The Renewable Energy Project Development Office (Repdo) of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Energy has issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) for round three of the Kingdom’s National Renewable Energy Program (NREP), which comprises four solar photovoltaic (PV) projects with a combined generation capacity of 1 200 MW. Round three projects will be divided into two categories. The first, Category A, targets smaller companies, and includes the 80 MW Layla and the 120 MW Wadi Al Dawaser solar PV projects.

Clarity on emergency procurement of 3 000 MW expected only by end Feb

Hundreds of potential respondents to a request for information (RFI) – issued in December by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) for supply and demand solutions to South Africa’s prevailing power deficit – descended on Centurion on Wednesday for a briefing ahead of the submission deadline of January 31. In what became an almost standing-room-only affair, senior representatives from the Independent Power Producer (IPP) Office – Maduna Ngobeni, Pervelan Govender and Lena Mangondo – urged potential developers to provide fresh  and detailed information on short-term, as well as medium- to long-term, projects that could assist in helping to close an immediate supply shortfall of some 3 000 MW and, in time, restore system stability.

BMW, ACSA launch EV charging stations at three airports

In an effort to push the boundaries of innovation through partnerships, and to improve the customer experience, Airports Company South Africa and BMW South Africa have launched BMW ChargeNow electric vehicle charging stations at OR Tambo International Airport, Cape Town International Airport and King Shaka International Airport.

Solar installations to continue growing at double-digit rates – IHS

Global solar installations will continue double-digit growth rates into the new decade, global information provider IHS Markit reports in its ‘2020 Global Photovoltaic (PV) Demand Forecast’. IHS estimates new yearly installations to increase by 14% year-on-year to 142 GW this year.

Key Ramaphosa ally hinders efforts to tackle power supply crisis

South Africa has been hit by rolling power cuts less than a month after President Cyril Ramaphosa gave renewed assurances that energy constraints were being addressed, making his pledges ring hollow and highlighting his administration’s inability to tackle the crisis. While Eskom Holdings, the State utility that provides about 95% of the nation’s electricity and is overseen by Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, has borne the brunt of the blame for the outages, criticism is increasingly being directed at another target: Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, who is also chairperson of the ruling party.

DMRE hosts briefing ahead of launch of emergency power programme

A briefing session will be held on Wednesday for potential respondents to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s request for information for power generation solutions that can be “grid connected in the shortest time at the least possible cost”. The responses will be used to inform a ‘Risk Mitigation Power Purchase Programme’ through which between 2 000 MW and 3 000 MW of near-term capacity could be procured from independent power producers as part of belated efforts to alleviate South Africa’s current electricity supply constraints.

Eskom mulls new maintenance strategy that would leave 5 000 MW gap for two years

The Eskom board will, before the end of January, consider a new approach to the maintenance of its ailing coal fleet – one premised on creating more time and space for intensive maintenance and repair, whereby the utility makes a firm commitment to only a minimum level of supply that falls well short of demand. The resultant supply/demand gap would then have to be met through a combination of new emergency supply and demand-side management. Should such solutions fail to address the imbalance, however, Eskom would then resort to ongoing routine load-shedding.

Drought, mounting debt leave Zambia and Zimbabwe in the dark

Drought has plunged millions of Zambians and Zimbabweans into darkness as hydro-power dams drain, and their governments’ debt is making matters worse. Rolling electricity blackouts lasting 18 hours a day have choked the two economies. Ballooning debt has left them unable to afford to import enough power to help cushion shortages. Even if they could, the region’s biggest supplier, Eskom Holdings, doesn’t have enough capacity to keep the lights on in its home market, South Africa.

South Africa should use all available energy resources, Minister says at coal event

Secure and reliable energy supply is a catalyst for economic growth and development, especially within the South African context, says Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, who highlights that an energy mix that uses all available resources is required to bring certainty to the sector and economy. It is also important to keep the security of supply in mind with all deliberations and planning, he said on Tuesday during his opening address at the launch of the International Energy Agency (IEA) 'Coal 2019' report.

Renergen’s Free State project shows ‘game changing’ potential for domestic power

Drilling at emerging natural gas and helium producer Renergen’s Virginia project, in the Free State, has progressed through the Karoo Supergroup and successfully intersected gas-charged sandstones and fractures, as was previously expected, the company reported on Monday. The gas was intersected under pressure in the morning of December 9, after the company drilled about 50 m into the sandstone.

DRC reverts to 4 800 MW plan for Inga

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will proceed with a smaller version of the Inga III hydropower project and expand the facility over time, President Felix Tshisekedi said. The Inga III dam, which will begin as a 4 800 MWplant, will have its capacity increased to 7 500 MW and 11 000 MW eventually, Tshisekedi told lawmakers Friday in the capital, Kinshasa. Once completed, the facility would be the biggest hydroelectric power station on the continent and provide much-needed electricity to Congo and other nations, including South Africa.

DMRE sets Jan 31 deadline for responses to RFI for 3 000 MW of near-term supply

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) on Friday released a request for information (RFI) in a bid to procure between 2000 MW and 3000 MW of power generation capacity "that can be grid connected in the shortest time at the least possible cost". Respondents to the RFI have been given until 10:00 on January 31 to make submissions.

Sasol willing to consider using ‘green hydrogen’ to produce lower-carbon fuels

South African energy and chemicals group Sasol, which is under increasing pressure to lower its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, has indicated a willingness to participate in demonstration projects aimed at deploying its Fischer-Tropsch assets in combination with ‘green hydrogen’, produced from renewable energy and water using electrolysis. Sasol’s current hydrogen-production methodology involves the use of coal and water in a process that is highly carbon-intensive. This coal-based hydrogen is, in turn, used in Fischer-Tropsch reactors to produce a suite of products, including diesel and kerosene, or jet fuel.

Renewable-energy projects well under way

Construction on several Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) fourth bid window projects are well under way. The REIPPPP fourth window bids include 12 wind farms, 12 solar photovoltaic (PV) projects, a biomass project, a mini-hydro project and a concentrated solar power project.

Success of renewables programme continues

Over the past eight years, the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) has attracted about R209.4-billion in committed private-sector investment, with the successful fourth window bids being valued at about R56-billion. South African companies, such as financial institution Old Mutual, diversified investor and services provider Phakwe, energy developers Red Cap and Pele Green, among others, account for the majority of private investors in the REIPPPP.

Additional renewable energy development zones proposed

The second phase of the Strategic Environmental Assessment for wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) energy in South Africa proposes three additional renewable energy development zones for wind and solar PV energy projects. The renewable energy development zones support the responsible implementation of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP 2019) that was gazetted by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe in October.

Environmental studies essential to REIPP success

In most renewable-energy independent power producer (REIPP) project cases, environmental sensitivities can be successfully avoided if developers embrace advice given by environmental consultants during the environmental impact assessment (EIA) stage. This enables developers to better ensure that their project implementation will be successful, claims environmental consultant Savannah Environmental director Jo-Anne Thomas.