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Solar Water Heating & Enviromental News in South Africa


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South Africa may double power purchases from Congo hydro plant

South Africa is mulling committing to doubling the amount of electricity it will buy from a proposed multibillion-dollar hydro power plant in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Increasing the amount of electricity that South Africa will buy has become a linchpin for the companies seeking to build and operate the 11 000 MW facility. Congo in October named Chinese and Spanish groups as co-developers of the plant, which could cost as much as $18-billion including transmission lines.

Evolution II Fund closes $41m funding round

Africa-focused investment advisory firm Inspired Evolution led a $41-million equity investment by its Evolution II Fund and other consortium partners into Africa-focused solar business d.light. Evolution II invested $18-million alongside $10.6-million from the Dutch Development Bank FMO, $7.5-million from Swedfund and $5-million from Norfund.

Radebe insists IRP to be approved soon, amid Nedlac uncertainty

Energy Minister Jeff Radebe has reiterated that Cabinet could soon approve the long-awaited update to South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for electricity, despite persistent suggestions that National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) sign-off of the document is still months away. Speaking at a briefing in Pretoria on Friday, following a meeting with Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Minister Khalid Al-Falih, Radebe indicated that consultations had been finalised with both Parliament and Nedlac.

Clough JV selected as preferred tenderer for civil works at Australian hydropower project

The Clough Salini Joint Venture (JV) has been selected as the preferred tenderer for about A$4-billion worth of civil works packages for the Snowy 2.0 project – a multiyear infrastructure project. Clough is a wholly owned subsidiary of Murray & Roberts and has a 35% shareholding in the JV.

Investec, UK Climate Investments kickstart renewable energy vehicle with R1bn

Investec Bank and UK Climate Investments have committed a combined R1-billion to a dedicated renewable energy investment vehicle Revego Africa Energy. Revego Fund Managers (RFM) – a newly incorporated black-owned and managed fund manager – will be responsible for managing Revego’s investments in operating renewable energy projects in South Africa and other sub-Saharan African countries.

South Africa aims to finalise long-term energy plan next month – Radebe

South Africa is aiming to finalise a long-term plan for the country's energy mix next month, and once that is done it will launch another round of renewable energy deals, Energy Minister Jeff Radebe said on Wednesday. "We are aiming for February," Radebe told Reuters, when asked when the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) would be completed. "Straight away after that we will launch more renewable energy contracts," he added.

Electricity increases will badly hurt the poor, say community leaders, residents

Community and faith leaders, as well as pensioners and residents, have called on the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) to oppose Eskom’s request for a tariff hike, with a projected overall increase of 45% to 2021. “If granted, this price increase will severely impact on all consumers of electricity across the country, many of whom are already struggling to pay their daily bills,” said the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei) in its submission.

Electric cars seen getting cleaner even where grids rely on coal

Electric cars are better for the environment than traditional gasoline models, and that benefit will grow as power generators shift away from coal. That’s the conclusion of research by BloombergNEF, which found carbon dioxide emissions from battery-powered vehicles were about 40% lower than for internal combustion engines last year. The difference was biggest in Britain and the UK, which have large renewables industries. It still held in China, which is more reliant on coal to make electricity.

China approves large new upstream dam project on the Yangtze river

China has approved construction of one of its tallest dams, a 239-metre (784-foot) hydroelectric structure on the upstream section of its longest river, the Yangtze, the state planning agency said on Tuesday. Hydropower is a clean and renewable source of energy but large-scale construction in southwest China has sparked accusations of damage to fragile ecosystems and inadequate compensation to thousands who have lost their homes.

Uganda aims to impose penalties on distributor for power outages

Uganda aims to impose financial penalties from March on its sole power distributor Umeme for any frequent and prolonged supply outages, the regulator said. The public has long complained about high tariffs and long power cuts, while unreliable supplies add extra costs to businesses, which often run costly stand-by generators to keep operations going during outages.

Fourways office park goes solar

To convert Willow Wood Office Park, in Fourways, Gauteng, to using solar energy, Heartwood Properties has partnered with SolarSaver, which offers a rent-to-own model that does not require any capital outlay, to reduce the building’s footprint and save on electricity costs. All indications are that solar energy is the fastest growing alternative energy industry globally, Heartwood said in a statement this week.

Off-grid rural home concept launched in Rwanda

UK-based solar-power venture company Bboxx has launched its 2020 solar-powered off-grid home concept in Rwanda. The Bboxx Tomorrow’s Rural Home has a 50 W photovoltaic panel mounted on the roof and can be bought on a three-year payment plan. The home was created by Bboxx and partners using smart and sustainable building materials and design. It showcases Bboxx’s range of products and services, designed to bring the on-grid experience in an off-grid location, according to the company.

Self-sustaining clean energy system developed

Sustainable energy specialist Hyson Sustainable Energy – situated in Krugersdorp – has developed and patented a fully self-sustaining, energy-producing tower, says Hyson Sustainable Energy MD Sally Hall. “The Hyson Sustainable Energy ‘Power Tower’, which was provisionally patented just seven months ago, can produce between 4 MW/h and 8 MW/h of clean, cost-free energy.”

Solar PV uptake expected to double

Energy supply from solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is increasing at a rapid rate in South Africa, with PV grid installation expected to double in the 2018/19 period, says renewable-energy solutions supplier Genesis Eco-Energy director and solar energy association South African Photovoltaic Industry Association chairperson Davin Chown. “Over the past decade, the global solar energy industry has grown at an average rate of 54% a year. This growth has also been evident in the local market, owing to the rapid uptake of residential, commercial and industrial scale solar PV system installation.”

LHWP Phase II ensures employment opportunities in January 2019

The start next month of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) Phase II advance infrastructure construction at Polihali, where the Phase II dam will be built, and Katse village, which was constructed in Phase I as housing for consultants and contractors, will bring eagerly anticipated employment opportunities to South Africa- and Lesotho-based construction companies and surrounding communities in Lesotho, says Lesotho government organization Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) CE Refiloe Tlali.  

LHDA workshop places contractors in better bidding position

The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) held successful workshops for South Africa- and Lesotho-based small and medium-sized registered contractors to place them in a better position to bid for construction projects on the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP). Held in several towns in Lesotho and South Africa, the workshops were held from August this year until early last month.

Prequalification for construction of Phase 2 works on LHWP to launch in January

The Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) will kick 2019 into gear with the launch in January of the prequalification for construction of the Phase 2 main works of the Polihali dam and Polihali transfer tunnel. “The call for expressions of interest for the construction of the 165-m-high Polihali dam and the 38-km-long Polihali transfer tunnel is expected to attract the interest of major engineering and construction companies,” says LHWP Phase 2 divisional manager Tente Tente.

Tanzania to sign deal this week for $3bn power plant – President

Tanzania will sign a deal this week for the construction of a $3-billion hydroelectric power plant, the president said in remarks broadcast on state television on Tuesday. President John Magufuli did not name the company awarded the contract for the power plant and dam to be built in the Selous Game Reserve, a UN-designated world heritage site in southern Tanzania. Government sources told Reuters the contract would be signed with Egypt's Arab Contractors.

15 on Orange’s PVT energy system now fully operational

The newly installed Solarus energy system on the roof of the 15 on Orange Hotel, in Cape Town, is now fully operational. According to a statement issued on Tuesday, the hybrid photovoltaic and thermal (PVT) project is currently the largest in Cape Town and is a system that provides the luxury hotel with both heat and electricity.

DLO Energy Resources invests in 30 MW solar plant in Nigeria

South African clean energy development company DLO Energy Resources Group is investing in a solar farm project in Nigeria’s Kaduna state to power its green industrial zone. DLO MD and founder Linda Mabhena-Olagunju and Kaduna state Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai this week signed a memorandum of understanding to build lower-cost, utility-scale solar-electric generating facilities.

Attracting investors to green technology in the Atlantis SEZ

The Atlantis Special Economic Zone (SEZ), which has been launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa, has already attracted R680-million in investment and created 312 jobs.  A large slice of the investment was contributed by wind tower manufacturer Gestamp Renewable Industries.

Ventilation key to genset safety

Gensets that are stored indoors should be stationed in a well ventilated area to avoid the temperature of the genset rising too high, says fire risk management and support company ASP Fire CEO Michael van Niekerk.

Sugar dumping remains a crisis for industry

While national government has shown a willingness to protect the sugar industry against corrosive trade-dumping practices, nonprofit anti-dumping organisation FairPlay founder Francois Baird emphasises that government’s ineffective administrative processes have made its previous attempts at intervention inadequate. “The South African sugar industry has been in decline and under serious threat, owing to an onslaught of subsidised and dumped imports, which are taking a rapidly increasing share of the local market.”

Local manufacturer supplies backup power to new Sandton development

Local manufacturer Zest WEG Group’s Cape Town-based generator set (genset) division is in the process of commissioning two 11 kV, 2 000 kVA gensets for a mixed-use property development in Sandton, Gauteng. The full scope of work includes the design, manufacture, complete installation and testing of the units, as well as commissioning. The gensets will be installed in a dedicated plant room. Zest WEG Group COO Louis Kotze says the company is well placed to offer improved access to locally manufactured fit-for-purpose generator sets. “Standard off-the-shelf diesel generator sets as well as custom-built application specific units are readily available, in either stationary or mobile configurations from 10 kVA prime power up to 3 350 kVA emergency standby power and can be increased upwards with multiple synchronised sets.”

TwinPower generator doubles the power, flexibility of containerised gensets

Sustainable productivity solutions provider Atlas Copco Power Technique’s new prime power TwinPower containerised generators, the QAC 1100 and QAC 1450, are a well-suited power solution for applications requiring variable power needs. “The economic viability of the two models means that end-users receive twice the power and double the flexibility on a single compact platform,” says Atlas Copco Power Technique business line manager for portable products David Stanford.

Eskom to increase OCGT use at certain power stations

Although the risk of rotational load-shedding during the festive season is high, State-owned power utility Eskom will resort to increasingly using open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) at certain power stations to minimise the risk of load-shedding.

South Africa should not be over-reliant on renewable energy for its future electricity needs

The proposal of the country’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2018 that wind, solar and gas generation account for a combined total of 42% of South Africa’s total installed electricity capacity by 2030 was most unwise, AFRA-NEST Regional Coordinator Dr Anthonie Cilliers has warned. (AFRA stands for the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology, while NEST is the acronym for Network for Education in Nuclear Science and Technology.) He stressed that renewables had a place in the country’s energy mix, but that South Africa should not overestimate the contribution they would make. Under IRP 2018, by 2030 solar energy power stations using photovoltaic panels would account for 10% of the country’s total installed electricity generation capacity, with concentrated solar power adding another 1%, while wind power stations would account for 15%. Gas power plants would provide 16%. The problem was that, worldwide, the actual contribution of renewables to daily electricity generation was much lower than their installed capacity, meaning that, in practice, South Africa would be heavily dependent on gas-generated electricity. And South Africa had, as yet, no domestic source of gas (it was not yet known if the country had any commercially viable shale gas reserves). Nor could anyone forecast what the gas price would be in the future.

EVs to become main driver of battery storage deployment over next decade, says Fitch Solutions

The electric vehicle (EV) market is set to become the main driver of surging battery storage deployment over the next decade, following increasing ambitions by developed and emerging markets to decarbonise their transport sectors, and will have a substantial disruptive effect on how energy is generated and consumed, while becoming a vast source of demand for metals. This is according to analysis and consultancy company Fitch Solutions, which, on Tuesday, held a webinar focused on discussing the quantifying impact of EVs across sectors.

Sener advocates for IRP policy adjustment to cater for ‘reliable, carbon-free’ CSP

Spanish technology group Sener, which has overseen the construction of three concentrated solar power (CSP) projects in South Africa and 29 in total internationally, is urging the South African government to reconsider CSP’s exclusion from the final version of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). Sener Southern Africa regional MD Siyabonga Mbanjwa believes a specific policy adjustment should be made to the IRP to cater for the carbon-free technology, despite the fact that CSP plants, which can operate even when the sun sets, currently generate electricity at tariffs higher than those outlined in the least-cost mix favoured in the draft IRP 2018.

Kenya starts construction of 83 MW geothermal plant

Kenya has started building a geothermal power plant to add 83 MW of capacity to the national grid, the state-owned power generation utility said on Tuesday.  Geothermal power is Kenya's second largest source of electricity after hydroelectric power. The country has total installed power capacity of about 2 336 MW.

Pollutec covers full spectrum of environmental industry

Environmental trade show Pollutec concluded a successful fortieth anniversary, in Lyon, France, last week. This year’s event saw an increase in the number of international exhibitors and also hosted three new pavilions – Korea, Hungary and Italy.

DST hosts hydrogen fuel cell technology conference

Global stakeholders in the multibillion-dollar fuel cell industry will meet in Pretoria this week for the thirtieth Steering Committee Meeting of the International Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the Economy (IPHE). The Department of Science and Technology (DST) will host the meeting from December 4 to 7, as it looks to develop the local fuel cells market.

African renewables IPP to list on Mauritian Stock Exchange

Independent power producer (IPP) Africa Clean Energy Solutions (Aces) will list on the Mauritian Stock Exchange on December 14. The company will issue up to 600 000 new shares prior to the initial listing date.

100 MW Karoshoek Solar One CSP project commissioned in Northern Cape

The 100 MW Karoshoek Solar One project was commissioned on November 30 – the latest success in government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). Karoshoek is a concentrated solar project (CSP) that harvests the sun’s energy through a series of concave mirrors. Using this energy to heat high temperature fluid, the plant then drives a steam turbine to convert the energy into electricity.

100 MW CSP project, developed by black-owned IPP, enters commercial operation

A new 100 MW concentrated solar power (CSP) plant, developed by black-owned independent power producer (IPP) Emvelo, officially entered into commercial operation this week, providing Eskom with a new dispatchable generation option at a time of severe supply-side constraints. Located in Upington, in the Northern Cape, the R11-billion Ilanga CSP1 plant employs parabolic-trough technology and incorporates five hours of storage, which enables the power station to dispatch electricity during the evening peak and long after the sun sets.

First institutional anaerobic digester launched at NPO’s Johannesburg premises

To promote renewable energy as a cost-effective technology in a world facing the impact of climate change and global warming, the University of South Africa, diversified miner Exxaro Resources and the South African National Energy Development Institution on Wednesday launched its first institutional anaerobic digester at nonprofit organisation EARTH Centre’s premises, in Johannesburg. Making use of a sustainable water supply, including grey water, these anaerobic digesters will be used as a source of fuel for cooking in households, schools and community organisations, and will not only vastly improve people’s standard of living but will also help the environment by minimising organic waste.

Zambia targets 200 MW of solar power to reduce hydro dependency

Zambia is seeking proposals from potential developers of solar power projects with a combined 200 MW capacity as it tries to diversify its energy mix away from hydroelectric power. Energy Minister Matthew Nkhuwa said in a statement at an investment conference on Tuesday that the 200 MW would be split into small projects, each with a maximum size of 20 MW.