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Demonstrating its capability for creative thinking, engineering and project management consultancy Royal HaskoningDHV South Africa has overcome bulk services shortages and ensured the preservation of the natural environment along KwaZulu-Natal’s north coast through the sustainable design of the Blythedale Coastal Estate.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) hybrid technology is fast becoming a cost- and energy efficient solution for remote locations throughout sub-Saharan Africa. There is huge demand for electricity across the continent; however, poor and unreliable grid infrastructure is becoming a major challenge in electricity supply, renewable power supply manufacturer juwi Renewable Energies business development manager Monya Bassingthwaighte said at the PowerGen Africa conference, in Sandton, on Wednesday.
The future of Africa’s energy sector must rest in solar power if it is going to overcome the obstacles it currently faces, according to Zimbabwe-based renewable energy company Samansco CEO Nyasha Bamhare. Addressing delegates at the PowerGen Africa conference, which is taking place in Sandton from July 18 to 20, Bamhare noted that, from a social and political perspective, and owing to Africa’s growing middle class and technological capabilities enabling development, solar energy is an obvious and inexpensive energy choice.
With a worldwide focus on connecting the last four-billion of the world’s unconnected population to the Internet, a push to ensure the last 1.2-billion people have access to electricity and unlocking the world of finance to the world’s 2.5-billion unbanked, there is a need to start thinking differently. Mapping out these three challenges, Veriown president and CEO Steve Johanns, speaking on the second day of the PowerGen Africa conference, in Sandton, on Wednesday, said the overlapping issues all had one commonality – the people left out in the cold were all in the same two places – Africa and Asia.
Aligning power generation and distribution projects with the host country and government’s mandate is a step forward in attracting more internal and external financing to develop comprehensive energy and power infrastructure. This is one of the messages emerging from this year’s PowerGen Africa conference, being held in Sandton from July 18 to 20, where much of the financing possibilities for an energy-strapped Africa is being mulled.
Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, who in June criticised the high cost of renewable energy, offered a tacit acknowledgement on Tuesday of the growing competitiveness of solar and wind, while calling for a long-term deal with the renewable-energy sector to avoid job losses in the energy sector. Speaking at the POWER-GEN and DistribuTech Africa Conference in Sandton Brown said the deal should go “beyond the price Eskom pays per kilowatt at the check-out counter, although that is obviously important”. Any deal should also incorporate the necessity for “serious localisation and labour upskilling or reskilling strategies”.
The Northern Cape-based Loeriesfontein Wind Farm has been making use of a mobile transformer to allow for an early connection to the grid for the commissioning of the turbines – a temporary solution until the wind farm can connect to the Helios substation, which is the permanent grid connection. Project developer Mainstream Renewable Power country construction manager Kevin Foster explains the role of the transformer as twofold: it provides temporary power supply to the project, mitigating the risk of the Eskom transmission being delayed, and it allows for Loeriesfontein wind farm to undergo early grid code testing.
In this opinion article, juwi Renewable Energies MD Greg Austin reflects on prospects in Africa for bilateral power purchase agreements for both grid-connected and behind-the-meter hybrid energy solutions
The head of a black-managed and led JSE-listed energy investment company says he is encouraged by the framework outlined by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba for re-establishing policy certainty for the electricity sector and for independent power producers (IPPs). IPPs have been left in limbo since early 2016 when Eskom indicated that it would no longer sign new power purchase agreements for projects procured by government in 2015. As a result, 38 solar and wind projects with a collective investment value of nearly R60-billion have been left undeveloped, while the future of South Africa’s much-vaunted Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) has been thrown into doubt.
Although the global solar industry is growing rapidly, photovoltaic (PV) plants are still relatively new in South Africa and require professional design expertise to ensure best practice engineering, says consulting engineering firm SMEC South Africa power and energy function manager Stephen Reynders.
The power industry is a global community that has developed a strong habit of sharing best practice and discussing joint problems – making events like POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa invaluable for advancing the sector in times of disruption, says testing, inspection and certification services provider Bureau Veritas power and utilities global market lead Joerg Gmeinbauer.
Decentralisation of generation and determining the optimal energy mix for available resources and needs are crucial for addressing Africa’s energy challenges, say industry experts on the advisory board of the upcoming POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa conference and exhibition in Johannesburg.
The decreasing cost of energy storage solutions presents many opportunities for South Africa to manage the key issue of localised peak load power generation more efficiently, says green energy solutions provider Freedom Won cofounder and director Antony English.
POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa is crucial to business development on a continent where there are chronic energy shortages and access to modern, affordable energy services is critical to developmental objectives, says South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (Sapvia) chairperson Davin Chown.
The POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa advisory board has gone to great lengths to ensure that this year’s conference programme is tailored to meaningfully address the issues most relevant to Africa’s power generation sector and supported by a showcase of suppliers who can practically assist in implementing solutions.
Global professional services provider Accenture resources MD and associate director Ken Robinson – who will be speaking at this year’s POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa – says South Africa’s generation crisis is largely under control, but that power supply challenges loom in distribution.
Cable accessories company Tank Industries says the telecommunications industry is picking up, owing to the uptake of fibre-optic cables in domestic and new build commercial installations.
Marine and energy solutions provider Wärtsilä will present solutions that provide a way for the South African government to realise its liquefied natural gas (LNG)-to-power ambitions in a realistic, cost-effective and swift manner at this year’s POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa.
Thermodynamic technology developer Heat Recovery Micro Systems owner Johan Enslin will introduce a disruptive new avenue for renewable-energy generation that can significantly lower electricity costs for power utilities and smaller decentralised power generating systems at this year’s POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa.
Last month multinational industrial machinery manufacturer Voith exhibited power industry solutions at the POWER-GEN Europe 2017 conference and exhibition, and one of the main features was its new variable speed drive (VSD), the VECO-Drive, intended to enhance the efficiency of rotating equipment such as compressors and pumps used in the power generation sector. The event was held in Cologne, Germany from June 27 to 29. In a press statement released at the time of the exhibition, the company explained that the “innovative” VECO-Drive is able to provide both the reliability of mechanical gears and the efficiency of low-voltage variable frequency drives (VFD).
With strong correlations between electric capacity and economic development, access to reliable and cost-effective power is crucial to enabling nations to harness the productive capabilities of their people and obtain meaningful growth, says engineering, procurement and construction company Black & Veatch sub-Saharan Africa business development director Webb Meko.
With solar photovoltaic (PV) installations now recognised globally as the cheapest form of power generation, a key emerging trend is the integration of these systems with storage and transport options, says solar solutions provider SOLA Future Energy CEO Dom Wills.
The finalisation of the “lowest cost” Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for electricity has been included in a list of energy-related interventions unveiled by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba as part of ‘Government’s Inclusive Growth Action Plan’ published on Thursday. Likewise, the National Treasury calls for a lowest cost Integrated Energy Plan. The action plan has been formulated in response to confirmation that South Africa descended into its first recession since 2009 earlier this year, despite the easing of previous power constraints, as well as improvements in labour relations, commodity prices and growth prospects among the country’s major trading partners.
Democratic Republic of Congo has decided to more than double the size of its planned Inga 3 hydroelectric plant to make it more economical, after the $14-billion project was hit by financing problems. Inga 3 is part of a $50-billion to $80-billion project to expand hydroelectric dams along the Congo River, but the project has repeatedly been delayed by red tape and disagreements between Congo and its partners on the project.
A competition aimed at identifying innovative startups in the field of electricity access in Africa has been launched, following an agreement between energy multinational Enel and Swiss-based Seedstars World, which facilitates startup competitions in more that 75 countries. Dubbed the ‘Africa Energy Track’ challenge, the competition aims to enhance technology and entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa’s rural areas, with a particular focus on electric mobility, storage, distributed generation and energy efficiency.
The share of clean-energy spending rose to a record 43% of total energy-related investment in 2016, the International Energy Agency’s (IEA’s) yearly World Energy Investment report shows. Global energy investment fell by 12% to $1.7-trillion last year, the second consecutive year of decline. However, for the first time, spending on the electricity sector exceeded the combined spending on oil, gas and coal supply.
The affordability of South Africa’s growing fleet of renewable energy plants has been questioned on several occasions by Eskom and Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown also weighed in recently, telling Parliamentarians in late June that, while electricity arising from the renewables plants was costing Eskom R2.14/kWh, the utility was only able to charge consumers R0.84/kWh. However, new analysis into the impact of renewables on Eskom’s financial position shows that the State-owned utility is, in fact, benefiting both financially and operationally from the power stations that have been brought into commercial operation as a result of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).
A number of new technology developments are expected to impact the global electricity sector, including virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT), however, tax, audit and advisory firm KPMG South Africa senior manager Nevellan Moodley says that blockchain is likely to have the most significant effect on the industry. Blockchain technology refers to a distributed network that is used to manage a growing list of individual records or blocks, each with a unique identification code.
The current economic climate and a lack of mid- to long-term contractual agreements from the Department of Energy (DoE) has slowed plant expansion and capacity increases by local solar water heater (SWH) manufacturers. Local manufacturer Satchwell Controls, a division of electro-mechanical company ACTOM, Appliance Controls key account manager André Nieuwoudt notes that while there are perceptions that local manufacturers are unable to meet the demand of the DoE’s SWH roll-out, he asserts that there are enough local manufacturers to deliver. However, many companies are unwilling to invest in plant capacity increases without assurances from the DoE that demand will sustain SWH production.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) last month signed agreements for a corporate loan to finance the expansion of Afe Babalola University (ABUAD) in Ado Ekiti, Nigeria. The expansion project consists of the construction of new facilities – including a 400-bed teaching hospital, an industrial research park, a postgraduate school, student hostels, a central library, and a small-scale hydropower installation.
The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) has appointed the Matla a Metsi joint venture to oversee the R445-million design and construction supervision of the Polihali dam. The dam is one of the two main water transfer components of Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP), with work expected to start this month.
Democratic Republic of Congo said late on Monday that its Inga 3 hydroelectric project is not expected to begin producing power until 2024 or 2025, not 2020 or 2021 as originally planned. The $14-billion, 4 800 MW project has struggled to attract financing and was dealt another blow last year when the World Bank said it had suspended funding after the presidency took control of the project, raising transparency concerns.
Engineering consultant WSP Africa will be moving into its new head office in Knightsbridge office park in Bryanston, in September, providing its clients with a stellar example of a sustainable building project.
Following the initial success of the Southern African Females in Energy Efficiency (Safee) mentorship programmes in the past year, Safee’s potential objectives are to establish the mentorship programme in other provinces, as well as host Safee chapters at various tertiary institutions in the country. “We would like to take the mentorship programme national, and to a point where it becomes something that is all around the Southern African Development Community,” says Safee board member Lesego Gaegane.
If South Africa wants to prevent its deindustrialisation and find middle ground between the sustainability of State-owned Eskom and the affordability of electricity, a few “holy cows will have to be slaughtered”, former Energy Intensive User Group (EIUG) of Southern Africa chairperson Piet van Staden believes. In an opinion piece published on EE Publishers on Thursday, Van Staden added that this required “out-of-the-box thinking” as business-as-usual would not do it. He also suggested that it could be a good idea to use the existing Ministerial Advisory Council on Energy or set up a special industry think tank to come up with proposals for Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi’s consideration.
South Africa’s renewable energy sector, which has grown from a R100-million market to a R1-billion market over the past few years, is a good example of manufacturing competitiveness. Addressing delegates at the yearly Manufacturing Indaba, in Kempton Park, sector development agency GreenCape CEO Mike Mulcahy noted that a lot of change in manufacturing was driven by a desire to see growth in the green economy.
Tanzania said on Tuesday it plans to build a long-delayed 2 100 MW hydroelectric plant in a World Heritage site renowned for its animal populations and variety of wildlife habitats despite opposition from environmentalists. The East African nation considers the project at Stiegler's Gorge in the UNESCO-designated Selous Game Reserve as vital in its bid to diversify its energy mix as part of plans to end chronic energy shortages.