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Solar Water Heating & Enviromental News in South Africa


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Rise in distributed-power allocation comes amid surging global rooftop solar growth

The decision of government to increase the allocation for distributed generation in the Cabinet-approved Integrated Resource Plan (IRP2019) comes as the International Energy Agency (IEA) is forecasting a strong acceleration in the installation of distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems across homes, commercial buildings and industrial sites in the coming five years. The IRP2019 has raised the yearly allocation for distributed, or embedded, generation to 500 MW, from the initial yearly allocation of 200 MW in the draft IRP, published in 2018.

The secretive election of the world’s top nuclear peacekeeper

When the head of the world’s nuclear watchdog died in July, his death was kept secret for four days. Many people didn’t even know Yukiya Amano was sick. The process that will see his post finally filled this week is shrouded in just as much mystery. The ambassadors of the 35 nations on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board will enter a sealed chamber at its headquarters in Vienna on Monday. Two lawyers acting as witnesses will stand guard as one-by-one each envoy slips a paper ballot into a wooden box. Votes are counted and if nobody receives two thirds, the process is repeated.

Investors turn defensive as Eskom’s day of reckoning approaches

Investors are prepared for the worst as the day of reckoning looms for Eskom Holdings, the State-owned power utility seen by Goldman Sachs Group as the biggest threat to the country’s economy. Yields on benchmark South African government notes are at their highest in three weeks, trumped only by junk-rated Nigeria, Turkey and Lebanon among 29 major emerging markets. Rand-denominated sovereign debt has lost 3% for dollar investors this half, the worst performance after Colombia and Argentina. Foreigners have dumped a net R25-billion of the country’s bonds this year, cutting their holdings to 37% of the total, from 43% less than 18 months ago.

IRP renewable allocation a promising sign for cheaper power - SAWEA

The long-awaited, Cabinet-approved 2019 Integrated Resource Plan shows that South Africa is transitioning to a cleaner energy future, the South African Wind Energy Association said on Friday, giving the government blueprint a thumbs-up. The organisation welcomed the 14.4 GW allocation for wind power, which gave the technology 18% of total projected power generation capacity by 2030. Solar photovoltaic’s allocation would see its share climb to 6% and hydro's to 8%.

South Africa to test market for emergency power ‘gap fillers’ as IRP is finalised

South Africa will release a request for information (RFI) in the coming weeks to test the market for solutions to close an immediate electricity supply gap of between 2 000 MW and 3 000 MW, which has emerged primarily as a result of a fall in the energy availability factor (EAF) from Eskom’s coal fleet and a de-rating of the anticipated output from the much-delayed Medupi and Kusile plants. The situation has been exacerbated further by the fact that no new capacity has been procured since 2014, as well as by a protracted hiatus, between 2015 and 2018, in the construction of renewables projects after Eskom refused to sign power purchase agreements.

South Africa's energy mix still to lean on coal in next decade

Coal will continue to play a significant role in South Africa's plan to boost electricity generation over the next decade, with more renewable energy also lined up, Mineral Resources & Energy minister Gwede Mantashe said on Friday. He said the additional capacity for the energy mix until 2030 would include 1 500 megawatts from coal, 2 500 MW from hydro, 6 000 MW from photovoltaic, 14 400 MW from wind, 2 088 MW from storage and 3 000 MW from gas. This will see coal contributing 59% of energy volumes

Wind power is key to avoid load-shedding, bolster growth – association

As businesses and consumers had to ensure several days of growth-denting loadshedding this week, the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) has highlighted the importance of procuring new generation capacity. The association believes that in choosing the new capacity needed to replace power utility Eskom’s ageing coal-generation fleet consideration has to be given to the need to decarbonise the energy system at least cost.

Eyeing economic growth, South Africa seeks to renegotiate old renewables projects

South Africa has started discussions with power producers to try to get cheaper electricity from some older renewable energy projects and give the economy a boost, several participants in the talks say. But participant power firms - some of which are backed by big names such as EDF Renewables - say they can't give the government big savings on many of the 64 solar and wind projects that are part of the discussions, because most of the money has already been spent.

Cabinet approves IRP2019

Cabinet on Thursday announced it had approved the promulgation of the Integrated Resource Plan, South Africa's policy blueprint for the electricity sector. The IRP spells out a proposed energy mix for the country until 2030. In a statement, Cabinet said "most of the inputs" from experts in the sector, the public and academia, received during a public consultation process last year were included in the 2019 IRP. The IRP was released as the country is experiencing another round of rotational power cuts as Eskom moves to fix boiler tube leaks at five of the utility's generating units.

Caledonia mulls installation of solar PV plant at Zim mine

Triple-listed Caledonia Mining Corporation says electricity supply to its Blanket mine, in Zimbabwe, has improved since late August. The TSX-, NYSE- and LSE-listed company attributed the improved electricity supply to a new electricity pricing schedule introduced by government for the mining industry to support the funding of imported electricity, which is used exclusively to supply participating mining companies.

Any further delay to IRP approval will increase load-shedding risk, Busa warns

Amid a return of the load-shedding spectre, Business Unity South Africa has called for the urgent finalisation of a “least-cost and least-regret” Integrated Resource, which it describes as the first step towards the stabilisation of the country’s electricity sector. Cabinet is expected to consider the IRP at its October 16 meeting. State-owned electricity producer Eskom published an alert on Wednesday morning, stating that Stage 2, or 2 000 MW, of load-shedding would be implemented, owing to a shortage of capacity.

ENERTRAG South Africa scopes wind farm potential in eMalahleni

Hydrogen and renewable energy project developer ENERTRAG South Africa has started with the installation of a 120-m-tall wind measurement mast near Eskom’s Hendrina power station in Pullens Hope, Mpumalanga. A minimum of 12 months’ ground assessment of wind and general climate conditions, coupled with satellite wind data, will inform whether utility-scale wind farm development is feasible in the vicinity of Hendrina.

B2Gold approves $38m hybrid energy project for Mali mine

Canadian gold miner B2Gold has approved the $38-million implementation of an offgrid solar battery hybrid system at its Fekola mine, in Mali. Construction is set to start at the end of this year, with completion scheduled for August 2020.

Yearly procurement of 1.6 GW a ‘sweet spot’ for stimulating wind-turbine industrialisation

A leading wind turbine original equipment manufacturer (OEM) believes that the local content in South African wind farms could rise to as high as 65% in the short term should the country demonstrate its commitment to a consistent yearly deployment of 1.6 GW. At present, local content on South African wind projects ranges from between 40% and 50%. Siemens Gamesa South Africa MD Janek Winand, who also serves as chairperson of the South African Wind Energy Association’s manufacturers and local content working group, tells Engineering News Online that the company sees potential to manufacture components domestically to serve the local market, as well as projects that are expected to emerge in the rest of the region.

Egypt denounces Ethiopia for moving ahead with Nile dam amid water-shortage fears

Egypt denounced Ethiopia on Wednesday for moving forward with building and operating a hyropower dam on the Nile, which Cairo worries will threaten already scarce water supplies. Ethiopia, the source of the Blue Nile which joins the White Nile in Khartoum and runs on to Egypt, says the dam will not disrupt the river's flow and hopes the project will transform it into a power hub for the electricity-hungry region.

Plans to speed up electrification in Africa

Africa needs to connect around 73-million people to electricity every year to reach the goal of affordable and sustainable energy for every single African by 2030, says the African Union (AU) Commission. Atef Marzouk, head of the Energy Division of the AU Commission’s Department of Infrastructure and Energy, this week said he hoped wind energy would help to move the continent towards this goal in line with the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Mantashe confident South Africa will have a new energy plan by next week

Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe said on Thursday that he tabled the Integrated Resource Plan before a Cabinet committee meeting on Wednesday and that he was confident it would be approved at next week's Cabinet meeting. Speaking to delegates at the Oil and Power Conference in Cape Town on Thursday morning, Mantashe said once the latest version of the IRP is gazetted, policy certainty would begin to set in for investors in the energy sector.

The IRP brings winds of change

With the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) due to be finalised and a generous share of the energy mix being set aside for wind power, the winds of change are blowing across the industry in South Africa and into the rest of Africa. Leaders in the industry were upbeat during the final plenary of the annual wind energy conference, the Windaba, held in Cape Town this week.

Presidential Commission on Climate Change

Engineering News Editor Terence Creamer tells Creamer Media’s Chanel de Bruyn more about Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy’s plans to finally establish the proposed Presidential Commission on Climate Change, what South Africa’s proposed just transition to a low-carbon economy could entail and how the renewables industry is responding in this regard.  

Mining companies edge towards renewable energy options

Mining companies are starting to heed the transition towards a low-carbon future by investing in wind energy, solar and gas. This was relayed at the annual African wind energy summit, the Windaba, in Cape Town, on Wednesday.

Minerals Council calls for rational debates on a just transition

The Minerals Council South Africa has called for "rational and sombre" debates about a just transition from coal-fired power to more wind and solar energy and has outlined the difficult situation mining companies are facing, amid higher electricity prices and other input costs. The council's chief economist, Henk Langenhoven, has called for more clarity about statistics in areas such as Mpumalanga, where the coal industry will be severely affected by the decommissioning of several Eskom coal-fired power stations.

Southern African wind energy association launched

A regional association that will focus on unlocking wind energy opportunities across Southern Africa has been launched at the annual Windaba wind energy conference in Cape Town.   Known as Wind SADC, the association will help countries and companies boost their wind energy industries.

Zimbabwe quadruples electricity prices to fund power investment

Zimbabwe has increased the average electricity tariff by 320% to let the State power utility ramp up production and improve supplies at a time of daily rolling power cuts, the national energy regulator said on Wednesday. Power cuts lasting up to 18 hours have hit mines, industry and homes and, together with a devastating drought, have been cited by the treasury as among the main reasons why the economy is set to contract by up to 6% this year.

Renewables sector’s just transition roadmap to target coal and gold regions

South Africa’s renewable-energy industry is preparing a detailed ‘just transition’ roadmap that will incorporate employment, spatial and industrialisation components to the deployment of solar and wind in a bid to catalyse economic activity and job creation in areas where coal and gold mining are in terminal decline. The plan will seek to direct independent power producers (IPPs) to develop projects in areas such as Emalahleni, in Mpumalanga, where the coal industry will be negatively affected by the decommissioning of several Eskom power stations over the coming two decades, as well as the gold mining towns such as Klerksdorp, where production has been waning for decades.

Don’t 'declare war among technologies', says Mantashe amid imminent tabling of the IRP

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe on Tuesday said the latest version of government’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) would be tabled before Cabinet next week and would make space for all technologies, ranging from renewables to nuclear. “The promulgation of the updated IRP is imminent. We are taking it to Cabinet next week,” Mantashe told the annual Windaba summit on wind energy in Cape Town. If it is gazetted "there will be certainty", he added.

Half of turbine components for Perdekraal East, Kangnas wind farms delivered

Nearly 50% of the wind turbine components for the Perdekraal East Wind Farm and more than 45% of the wind turbine components for the Kangnas Wind Farm, have been delivered to site. It is expected that all 480 turbine components for the Perdekraal East Wind Farm, in the Western Cape, will reach the wind farm’s construction site before the end of January 2020.

Electricity generation master plan to be tabled before Cabinet next week, Mantashe says

Mineral and Energy Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe says that the latest iteration of the state's long-term plan for electricity generation will be tabled before Cabinet next week. If approved by Cabinet, it will be gazetted soon after. The Integrated Resource Plan describes the state's plan for future energy generation, including projected electricity demand, cost estimates, and from what sources power will be generated. It will outline the state's thinking on the decommissioning of coal power stations, the role of nuclear power, and the growth of renewable energy.

Siemens backs mega green power hydrogen project in Australia

Siemens is partnering on a 5 000 MW combined solar and wind farm in Western Australia that will produce renewable hydrogen for potential export to Asia. The Murchison facility will use Siemens’ electrolyser technology to convert power from the solar and wind units into hydrogen, it said in a joint statement with developer Hydrogen Renewables Australia. The project’s location, north of the coastal town of Kalbarri, makes it “one of the most cost-effective” spots in Australia to produce clean energy, according to the statement.

Egypt urges international mediation over Nile river deadlock

Seven years of talks between Egypt and Ethiopia in Sudan over a massive dam construction on the Nile river have reached a deadlock with Cairo appealing to the international community to intervene. Ethiopia began constructing the Grand Renaissance dam on the Blue Nile in 2012 saying the construction was vital for providing electricity.

Standard Bank partners with SAPVIA to advance solar PV industry

Standard Bank has formed a new strategic partnership with the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) to advance the growth of the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry in South Africa. Sapvia, representing more than 300 players in the solar PV industry, will leverage the partnership to deliver a number of strategic and support services through the PV GreenCard programme by focusing on skills development, installer accreditation, standardisation and documentation of small-scale solar PV installations.

Harmony considers solar PV roll-out at Free State mines

Solar technology developer SOLA Group has signed a heads of terms agreement with a consortium which intends to install three solar photovoltaic (PV) plants with gold miner Harmony Gold  in the Free State, SOLA Group head of Energy Storage and Microgrid Services Daniel Goldstuck told delegates at the Dwyka Technology Showcase today, in Sandton. The three solar PV plants, totalling 26 MW when combined, would power three of Harmony Gold’s mines in the region.

Panel systems order fast-tracked for Zimbabwe delivery

Local industrial component supplier ElectroMechanica delivered pre-assembled irrigation pump panel systems for use in agricultural applications last month. The panels are scheduled for installation and commissioning, in Zimbabwe, by the end of this month.

Atlas pinpoints energy hot spots

With the prospect of wind energy as a viable source of renewable energy in South Africa increasingly on the rise, the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) tells Engineering News that areas have been identified in South Africa with significant wind sources through a wind atlas project.

Wind energy untapped vine of job creation

The wind energy industry comprises various subsectors, each with its own degree of job creation potential, Cape Town-based wind farm developer G7 Renewable Energies tells Engineering News.

Wind turbine brake maintenance revolutionised with specialised tools

Lifting and positioning brakes is a sizable challenge in confined spaces, but maintenance is critical to minimising operational downtime, specifically when large wind turbines feature a yaw brake.

Outlook for wind energy in SA improving, despite headwinds

After stalling last year, global renewable energy capacity additions are expected to recover strongly in 2019, supported by a solid rebound in onshore wind deployments and ongoing solar photovoltaic (PV) growth. The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects almost 200 GW of renewables capacity to be added at a growth rate of nearly 12%, representing the fastest pace of deployments since 2015. The IEA expects 53 GW of onshore wind to be added, a 15% increase on the previous year.

Wind energy on the rise in S Africa

Although wind energy is a long way from being a dominant source of energy in South Africa, consulting engineering company Aurecon tells Engineering News that wind is one of the most competitive forms of electricity generation in the country.