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Solar Water Heating & Enviromental News in South Africa

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Biofuels unviable alternative in South Africa – expert

Owing to biofuels being too expensive to manufacture, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) Business School Energy Leadership Centre director Dr Rod Crompton says this makes them a commercially unviable energy source. He tells Engineering News that, despite the fact that global renewable-energy consumption rose to a new high last year – accounting for 3.6% of the world’s total energy consumption – renewables are still an insignificant player in the global energy market.

Biogas plant demonstrates potential using new tech

Renewable-energy and waste disposal solutions provider Global Energy has constructed a fully operational biogas demonstration plant using technology that has been designed to be more cost effective, manufactured locally and simpler to operate and maintain. The plant aims to showcase the potential for biogas in South Africa and demonstrate the capabilities of Global Energy’s new technology, which has been specifically developed for application in Africa.

Investors looking for viable infrastructure projects in Africa

There is investor appetite for well-structured infrastructure projects on the continent, but investors need clarity from governments on regulations and the various projects earmarked for development, says specialist banking company Investec Bank head of power and infrastructure finance sub-Saharan Africa Andre Wepener.   Governments in Africa have to create a conducive environment in terms of a clear regulatory framework, policy certainty and transparent processes without corruption to unlock opportunities for private investment in infrastructure projects, he adds.

Fund manager Vantage provides R2bn for six South African renewable energy projects

Fund manager Vantage said late on Monday it had, through its renewable energy fund Vantage GreenX Note II, provided R2.05-billion of funding to six solar and wind energy projects in South Africa with a combined capacity of 433 MW. The projects, which are part of South Africa's Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, reached financial close in July.

Juwi to build, operate three REIPPPP Round 4 solar PV projects

Solar energy equipment supplier juwi Renewable Energies has concluded three engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) and operation and maintenance (O&M) contracts, with a combined value of R3-billion, with African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM), which will deliver 250 MW of additional solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity to South Africa’s power grid over the coming few years. The agreements follow in the wake of Energy Minister Jeff Radebe’s announcement in April of the signing of power purchase agreements with the 27 independent power producer projects contracted under Round 4 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). The R56-billion worth of projects will add 2 300 MW of renewable energy capacity to the national grid over the next five years.

Northern Cape wind farm funds FitzPatrick Institute bird study

Kangnas Wind Farm and the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology are working in partnership to gather data related to the Red Lark’s current status, its occurrence, habitat preferences and threats.  As an endemic species, Red Lark is one of only a few species solely confined to the Northern Cape province of South Africa.

Company appoints resellers to install sealing systems

Distributor and maintenance contractor Southern Africa Master Distributors (SAMD), which is the Africa representative for sealing solutions provider Beele Engineering, has trained and appointed resellers in key industries to install Beele Engineering products, says SAMD sales and marketing director Chris Lee. “The demand for Beele Engineering products is incredible,” he tells Engineering News, adding that the company has been appointing resellers since April to deal with this demand.

Anticipated growth for solar furnace market

The global solar furnace market is envisaged to leverage the opportunity created by the growing need to use solar energy as a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuel, owing to increasing prices. This is according to a report by market researcher and consulting services provider TMR Research, titled ‘Solar Furnace Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Trends, Analysis, Growth, and Forecast 2017 – 2025’.

R12m solar PV plant to be installed at Liberty Midlands Mall

Liberty Two Degrees (L2D), in partnership with Liberty Group, on Wednesday announced the first solar photovoltaic (PV) installation at the Liberty Midlands Mall, in Pietermaritzburg. This solar PV plant is being commissioned on the roof of the mall’s 22 000 m2 Phase 3 extension, which was launched in March. Installation is set to start in September, with completion scheduled for the first quarter of 2019.

SENER, Acciona initiate salt melting process at Kathu CSP project

Engineering and technology group SENER, together with Acciona Industrial, have achieved a milestone with the start of the salt melting process at the Kathu Solar Park concentrated solar power (CSP) plant. The molten salt will be used to store heat from the solar field that can later be recovered to produce steam and generate electricity in the absence of solar radiation, extending the operational capacity of the plant after sunset and during cloudy weather.

Energy access a catalyst for economic growth, says green energy company

Access to cheaper and reliable energy, through renewable energy technology, would be a catalyst for boosting the African continent’s gross domestic product (GDP) in a sustainable way, green energy technology provider New Southern Energy (NSE) CEO David Masureik told Engineering News Online in a recent interview. Renewable energy, such as wind and solar, is easier to deploy in remote locations, while having less associated costs in terms of the damage it inflicts on the environment, he stated.

Agreement stokes West African renewable-energy market

German solar mounting company Schletter Group has signed a wholesale agreement with steel manufacturer Sparkwest Steel Industries, which will exclusively market Schletter open-area and rooftop systems in Nigeria. Sparkwest Steel will also act as wholesale dealer for the Schletter Group in a number of other West African countries, Schletter Group says in a statement.

IFC, Gaia partnership working to power Africa

World Bank Group member, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), has forged a new partnership with Moroccan renewable energy developer Gaia Energy to create a joint platform for the development of wind power and other renewable energy projects in Africa. Originally developed by Gaia Energy, the new joint platform will start off with a pipeline of 22 projects in nine countries in North, West and East Africa, representing a pipeline under development of more than 3 GW.

Energy access solution lies in adopting VRFB technology in renewable energy – Nikomarov

With about 650-million people in Africa currently without access to electricity, Bushveld Minerals subsidiary Bushveld Energy CEO Mikhail Nikomarov believes the solution lies in area-specific solutions. He explained in an interview with Mining Weekly Online that a solution needs to be an energy-intensive one, which he says can be found in adopting vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) technology in renewable energy applications.

Enel Green Power reaches financial close on five new wind farms

Enel Global Renewable Energies’ Enel Green Power (EGP) division, in Southern Africa, has reached financial close on five new wind farms with about 700 MW in capacity. The five wind farms – Nxuba and Oyster Bay, in the Eastern Cape, and Garob, Karusa and Soetwater, in the Northern Cape – have a capacity of about 140 MW each, and were all awarded in round four of the South African government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.

Floating solar PV solution could hold benefits for South African end-users – Black & Veatch

Floating solar photovoltaic (PV) solutions, which make use of a flotation system on which the PV modules are attached, addresses the shortage of reasonably priced land, as well as the need to reduce the rate of evaporation from precious freshwater reservoirs, such as dams or lakes, Black & Veatch sub-Saharan Africa business development director Webb Meko says. Floating solar PV, he pointed out in an interview with Engineering News Online, should be viewed as an evolutionary application, particularly in instances where there is a shortage of suitable land to install a land-based PV system.

South Africa’s wind industry calls for standard metrics for employment in the energy sector

The South African wind industry has called for a standardised metric to determine employment in the energy sector.   Currently all South African coal power-related employment studies use the metric employees or jobs as opposed to the more internationally applied metric person-years, which is used to report national renewable energy employment, says the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA).

Uganda signs agreement to protect small-scale renewable energy projects

Uganda on Friday became the first African country to de-risk small and medium scale renewables in a bid to ensure the viability of these renewable energy projects. This, as Uganda signed an agreement with the Regional Liquidity Support Facility (RLSF), a joint initiative of the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) and KfW, with funding from German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development. 

Ethiopian Nile dam manager found shot dead in his car

The project manager of a $4-billion Ethiopian dam was found shot dead in his car on Thursday, police said. "We have confirmed that engineer Simegnew Bekele was shot dead," Zeinu Jemal, head of Ethiopia's Federal Police Commission, told reporters. "He had a bullet wound behind his right ear," Zeinu said, adding a Colt pistol was found inside the car.

China loans to Africa energy, infrastructure projects almost trebled between 2016 and 2017

The value of Chinese loans to energy and infrastructure projects in Africa almost trebled between 2016 and 2017 to nearly $9-billion and the impact of this lending is increasingly visible in Africa, law firm Baker McKenzie said at the sidelines of a Brics summit. Baker McKenzie, participating at the July 25 to 27 summit in Johannesburg which has drawn hundreds of delegates from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) said loans had risen from $3-billion to $8.8-billion, with policy lenders China Development Bank and China Exim particularly active in helping bridge Africa's infrastructure gap.

Cape Town pushes ahead with plans for more renewable energy

The City of Cape Town is working hard to meet its target for renewable energy to make up 20% of total energy used in the city by 2020. It is also following international blueprints and plans to implement more renewable energy projects, says City of Cape Town energy executive director Kadri Nassiep.

BioTherm reaches financial close on four renewables projects

African renewable energy development platform and power producer BioTherm Energy has reached financial close on a 284 MW portfolio of wind and solar projects in South Africa as part of the fourth round of the South African Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme. The four projects, on which construction will start shortly, are estimated to be fully operational by 2020.

Eskom leaders hint at need for independent system operator

South Africa’s cash-strapped electricity utility Eskom is considering far-reaching changes to its business model as part of an in-depth review, being undertaken ahead of the finalisation of a new corporate plan. Chairperson Jabu Mabuza already flagged this week that the new corporate plan, which is scheduled for finalisation in September, will be significantly different from past plans, describing it as “a total review of the entire business model”.

Brics bank approves $600m loans for South African, Chinese projects

The New Development Bank, set up by the Brics group of emerging economies, has approved loans of $300-million for energy projects in South Africa and $300-million for a transportation project in China. South Africa, which will host a Brics summit later this week in Johannesburg, is trying to diversify its energy mix to reduce its reliance on heavily polluting coal-fired power plants.

Eskom confident of raising R72bn despite qualified audit

Financially stressed electricity producer Eskom expressed confidence on Monday that it would be able raise the R72-billion it required for the 2019 financial year, despite having received a qualified audit opinion for the 2018 financial year, reporting a R2.3-billion loss and nearly 20-billion in irregular expenditure, warning of yet more financial difficulties ahead and acknowledging that its current business model is no longer sustainable. To date, Eskom has secured only 22% of its funding requirement for 2019.

As crops dry, Malawi turns to solar irrigation

As climate change brings longer droughts, farmers in eastern Malawi's already dry Lake Chilwa basin are seeing an ever-more-frequent disaster: maize wilting or drying completely, leaving families hungry. "In the past many farmers relied on rain-fed agriculture to grow their food," said Edwin Liwonde, a subsistence farmer in the flat area, which is also prone to floods.

Sixth solar challenge sees champions return, raft of new entries from abroad

The 2018 Sasol Solar Challenge, set to take place from September 22 to September 29, will mark South Africa’s sixth solar car race. The eight-day event will see more than 20 teams depart from Pretoria and finish in Stellenbosch. The awards ceremony is scheduled to take place in Cape Town on September 30.

Battery storage to benefit businesses, municipalities

Battery storage will have a significant and firm impact on the uptake of renewable energy in South Africa, enabling users, whether in the retail or industrial space, to leverage some of the value that solar energy can create, says SOLA Future Energy energy storage services head Daniel Goldstuck. Speaking during a panel discussion at the PowerGen conference, held in Sandton, on Wednesday, he noted that by combining solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and battery storage, the dependency on the national electricity grid can be reduced by between 60% and 70%.

Globeleq acquires Brookfield’s South African renewables portfolio

Globeleq has entered into an agreement with an affiliate of Brookfield Asset Management to acquire Brookfield’s interest in its South African renewable energy portfolio.   The agreement is subject to various closing conditions and, once fulfilled, will give Globeleq a majority shareholding in six renewable projects totaling 178 MW, as well as ownership of Brookfield’s South African asset management company.  

Electricity supply in Africa driven by market rather than player – PowerGen panel

The energy industry in Africa is faced with more opportunities than challenges, a panel of speakers at the PowerGen conference agreed on Tuesday. Power Utility Leadership platform founder Izak du Plessis remarked that similar to other industries, the electricity industry will change and keep changing.

Acwa Power, CEF to co-invest in Redstone CSP project

Power generation technology developer Acwa Power on Monday signed an investment agreement with South Africa’s Central Energy Fund (CEF) regarding the Redstone concentrated solar thermal power plant (CSP) plant, in the Northern Cape.

Multimillion-rand French funding deal for drought-stricken Western Cape still needs ...

A nearly R9-million joint desalination project between the Western Cape government and the French government still needs the required environmental approval for operation in November. The solar-powered desalination plant, the first of its kind, will be located in the coastal town of Witsand on the mouth of the Breede River, and will produce a minimum of 100 kl a day. Despite the excitement surrounding the project, which entails about R8.6-million in grants, it may not be allowed to operate ...

Ministers reiterate commitment to implementation of LHWP Phase 2

South African Water and Sanitation Minister Gugile Nkwinti, Lesotho Water Minister Samonyane Ntsekele and the Lesotho High Commissioner Sello Moloto have reaffirmed their commitment to the successful implementation of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) Phase 2. Poised to secure a sustainable, independent energy supply for Lesotho to meet the country’s electricity requirements, the LHWP plays a vital role and contribution to the socioeconomic development needs of Lesotho and South Africa.

Thyssenkrupp launches industrial-scale water electrolysis solution for large projects

Engineering and construction company Thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions on Thursday launched its industrial-scale advanced water electrolysis solution that makes large-scale hydrogen production from electricity economically attractive. The advanced water electrolysis features a well-proven cell design, paired with an especially large active cell area of 2.7 m2.

Infrastructure-focused firm moving to raise capital for next round of acquisitions

JSE-listed investment holding company GAIA Infrastructure Capital is embarking on an investor roadshow in an effort to raise the capital it needs to acquire additional infrastructure assets with a combined value of R1.7-billion. The company, which invests in operating infrastructure assets in Southern Africa’s energy, transportation and water and sanitation sectors, has completed due-diligence assessments and has also signed exclusivity agreements over the assets.

Others expected to follow Coca-Cola’s solar leadership as costs fall

Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA), Coca-Cola’s bottling partner in South Africa, is aiming to have 25% of its electricity powered by renewable sources by 2025. The company says the first 10% of this renewable energy, about 18-million kilowatt hours a year, will be rolled out nationwide through rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) units at 11 of its sites. This will be a combined installed capacity of 10.6 MW. Nine sites will be completed by the end of the year, with the last two expected to be completed by March 2019.

Vacuum systems leak detection a first for Southern Africa

South African pump distributor Integrated Pump Technology has added on-site vacuum leak detection of vacuum systems to complement its existing service offering of design, supply, service and repairs of vacuum pumps and systems. Making use of the recently launched Leybold Phoenix Quadro portable leak detector, allows for fast and effective detection of leaks on vacuum pumps and within vacuum systems.