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Solar Water Heating & Enviromental News in South Africa

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Bushveld Energy, IDC, Eskom to test first vanadium redox flow battery

Aim-listed Bushveld Minerals’ 84%-owned energy subsidiary Bushveld Energy has deployed its first utility-scale vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) to power utility Eskom for testing. The power utility will, at its research, testing and development centre, in Rosherville, test the VRFB and its performance and applications under numerous simulations to validate the operational performance of energy storage systems in local conditions and to demonstrate the abilities and maturity of the VRFB for broad commercial use in South Africa and across the African continent.

First commercial solar insurance launched in South Africa

South African firms All Power Systems and Synthesis said on Monday they had launched the country’s first commercial solar savings insurance to protect companies from risks associated with adverse weather and system failure. In a statement, the companies said firms using rooftop solar energy faced the risk of their panels being damaged by hail or developing a system fault, among other hazards.

Shell collaboration helps power London buses with coffee waste

International energy and petrochemicals group Shell, in partnership with London-based clean technology company bio-bean and UK biodiesel producer Argent Energy, is helping power some of London’s buses through a new coffee biodiesel project – launched on Monday – which uses a biofuel made partly from waste coffee grounds. The fuel, known as B20 biofuel, provides a cleaner, more sustainable energy solution for buses across London’s network by decreasing emissions. Containing a 20% bio-component that partly comprises coffee oil, the biofuel has been added to the London bus fuel supply chain and, from this week, is helping to power some of the city’s buses, without the need for modification.

City of Cape Town gearing up for battle to directly procure power from IPPs

The City of Cape Town says it is prepared for a legal battle with the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) in a bid to directly procure power from independent power producers (IPPs). This was the culmination of two years of trying to get permission, said City of Cape Town enterprise and investment director Lance Greyling.

Siemens to cut 6 900 jobs to tackle flailing turbines business

Siemens will cut about 6 900 jobs, or close to 2% of its global workforce, mainly at its power and gas division, which has been hit by the rapid growth of renewables. Most of the cuts, about 6 100, will be made before 2020 at Siemens's Power and Gas division, which once thrived on supplying large gas turbines for electricity generation but has been overtaken by the global surge in solar and wind capacity.

Financing secured for solar projects in Egypt

European photovoltaic (PV) specialist Scatec Solar announced that it had secured financing of $335-million to fund its portion of the development of six 400 MW utility scale PV power plants which will be located in the Benban solar park in the City of Aswan in Egypt. The company secured funding from a consortium comprising the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the United Nations' Green Climate Fund (GCF), the Dutch development bank FMO, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD).

Investment in solar has overtaken coal globally, says IEA

Breaking all-time records, renewables currently account for two thirds of global net capacity additions, according to one of several reports about how renewable energy is powering ahead. The trend is set to continue. “All renewables will grow at double the velocity of fossil fuels within the next five years,” said International Energy Agency (IEA) renewable energy division head Paolo Frankl, addressing delegates at the yearly Windaba in Cape Town.

Global wind power continues to propel forward in 2017

China is surging ahead in wind power, blowing away the US – the world’s second-largest wind power market – by a long margin, while African countries are making more inroads despite facing challenges, delegates attending the yearly Windaba conference and exhibition, in Cape Town, have heard. Global Wind Energy Council general secretary Steve Sawyer said this year is expected to end with between 530 GW and 540 GW of wind power installed worldwide.

CSIR signals renewables-led electricity mix by 2050

The CSIR Energy Centre has published updated research outcomes indicating that South Africa’s least-cost electricity mix, by 2050, includes predominantly solar photovoltaic (PV) and onshore wind contributing nearly 80% of the country’s electrical energy. The research outcomes, which were released at WindAc 2017 in Cape Town on November 15, are a follow on from the techno-economic analysis produced by the science council in response to the Department of Energy’s (DoE’s) call for public comment on the draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP 2016) Base Case, published in late 2016.

Wind energy industry optimistic despite frustrations

The South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) is confident that the tide will turn and that Eskom will soon, and finally, sign the outstanding power purchase agreements (PPAs) that have delayed the renewable energy industry for the past two years. SAWEA chairperson Mark Pickering outlined the frustrations experienced by the industry at the seventh yearly International Wind Industry conference, Windaba 2017, held in Cape Town this week.

Study urges Eskom to accelerate station decommissioning, curtail Kusile to shore up solvency

A new study argues that cash-strapped Eskom could make immediate costs savings of up to R17-billion and boost its liquidity, without undermining security of supply, by accelerating the decommissioning of three of its older coal-fired power stations and by halting construction of units 5 and 6 at the Kusile project, in Mpumalanga. However, should Eskom’s financial crisis worsen to the point where it threatened the country’s fiscal and economic sustainability, the study suggests that it could become necessary to abandon more of Kusile (as well as parts of the Medupi project, in Limpopo) to staunch any further “haemorrhaging of cash” by the utility.

Solar to power ahead as it emerges as ‘cheapest’ source of generation

The World Energy Outlook 2017, released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in London on Tuesday, presents a base case scenario that foresees the world’s growing energy needs being met increasingly by renewables and natural gas over the coming 25 years, as “coal strikes out” and nuclear’s prospects dim. This base case, referred to as ‘New Policies Scenario’, anticipates that renewables will capture two-thirds of global investment in power plants to 2040, as they become the least-cost source of new generation for many countries. Since 2010, costs of new solar photovoltaics (PV) have fallen by 70%, while wind costs have declined by 25%.

IEA lists South Africa as possible hub for production of ‘green’ hydrogen-rich chemicals, fuels

A new International Energy Agency (IEA) report lists South Africa, together with a handful of other territories, as having the potential to tap its abundant solar and wind resources to produce “green” hydrogen-rich chemicals and fuels, such as ammonia and methanol. The insight paper, titled ‘Renewable Energy for Industry’, acknowledges that reducing long-term greenhouse gas emissions from industries such as cement, steel and chemicals will be “one of the toughest challenges of the energy transition”.

Schletter South Africa appoints new MD

Solar photovoltaic (PV) mounting system supplier Schletter South Africa has appointed Trevor DeVries MD, effective November 6. DeVries is heading the company that serves the sub-Saharan Africa business of the globally active Schletter Group.

As Mozambique marks historic Cahora Bassa transfer, attention shifts to big capex plan

Hidroelectrica Cahora Bassa (HCB), the Mozambique concession company which operates the Cahora Bassa dam and the 2 075 MW hydropower plant, is poised to move into a period of sustained investment, having settled all debt associated with the 2007 transfer of ownership of the scheme from Portugal to Mozambique. HCB will commemorate the historic $800-million transaction at a ceremony to be held on site in Songo on November 27, precisely ten years to the day after the conclusion of the deal. Since that date, HCB has been 92.5% owned by the government of Mozambique, with Portugal-listed utility Redes Energéticas Nacionais holding the 7.5% balance.

Affordability makes energy efficient solutions accessible

Increasing emphasis on the importance of energy efficiency and sustainable energy solutions has resulted in energy efficient lighting solutions using solar power becoming more cost effective. Subsequently, this has enabled disadvantaged communities, with minimal access to lighting, to afford sustainable, reliable energy efficient solutions, says electronics distributor and manufacturer ACDC Dynamics. “Lighting is one of the first products to be made sustainable because it is the quickest and easiest way to save electricity,” says ACDC Dynamics lighting specialist Gloria Snyman.

Competition equips students with practical energy efficiency knowledge

International digital industrial company General Electric (GE) Africa held the University Business Challenge Competition last month, putting into practice its commitment to helping boost learning and skills development through technology, and stimulating students to create energy efficient solutions. GE Africa regional learning leader Roti Balogun says this is the first year that the competition – themed Energy efficient solutions – was held in South Africa. Ten qualifying local university teams presented their solutions on October 13 to a panel of judges.

Student competition fosters innovative energy solutions

In a bid to allow South African engineering students to explore and understand energy efficiency and solutions, Gauteng-based tertiary institution the University of Johannesburg (UJ) has partnered with international energy and petrochemicals group Shell Global for the fourth time to host the annual Shell Eco-Marathon competition. The Eco-Marathon, which took place on October 21 and 22 at the Zwartkops raceway in Pretoria, challenged students from around the world to design, build and drive energy-efficient cars. The competition focuses on distance rather than speed, with the team whose car can go the furthest distance on the least amount of energy deemed the winner, explains UJ school of electrical engineering head Professor Johan Meyer.

Competence Centre promotes energy efficiency awareness in Africa

The South African-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Competence Centre for Sustainable Energies (CC:SE), in Cape Town plays an important role in creating awareness and fostering conversations among African stakeholders in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sector. CC:SE manager Jens Hauser explains that the CC:SE is active throughout the Southern African Development Community (SADC), most notably in South Africa, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique and Madagascar. In South Africa, CC:SE partners with the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre to offer the European Energy Manager (EUREM) training programme. Training is held in an extracurricular time frame, and consists of face-to-face training and a final individual project.

Organisation assists business in becoming energy efficient

Lack of energy supply security, economic costs associated with energy, and environmental costs, such as depleting resources, contributing to climate change are just some of the factors that can be mitigated if South Africa embraces energy efficiency and reliable renewable energy alternatives, says the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa (NCPC-SA). As such, NCPC-SA energy management systems expert Wendy da Cruz points out that the centre provides a range of subsidised energy performance improvement programme-related services at little or no cost. These include energy management systems based on ISO 50001, which specifies energy management system requirements.

Upcoming energy event to showcase African project opportunities

A key focus point of the African Energy Indaba (AEI) – which celebrates its ten-year milestone next year – is to provide access to project opportunities across the African continent.

Monitoring energy consumption fosters efficiency

Being aware of how much energy one consumes is key in energy efficiency and management, and has the potential to significantly reduce energy consumption in businesses and residential households, says industrial switchgear, automation and energy efficiency product distributor ElectroMechanica (EM) sales and marketing director Richard Nobbs. As such, the company has launched a range of energy efficient solutions that enable end-users to monitor and control all products that use electricity. With energy efficiency and management becoming a necessity worldwide, owing to energy shortages and harmful carbon emissions, EM – which imports only from established brands, with a focus on sustainability – has adapted to market changes to create energy efficiency solutions, Nobbs explains.

Energy-saving guide promotes sustainable mindset industry

International oil and gas company ExxonMobil has recently launched an energy- saving guide for the plastics industry to demonstrate to major companies in plastics how they can better manage their energy consumption. The guide, launched last month, is a practical approach designed to help with overall directives globally on how reducing energy consumption and a carbon footprint can benefit them, says ExxonMobil Europe, Africa and Middle East industrial marketing adviser Mohammed Mourad.

Gas company secures onshore petroleum production right

The Petroleum Agency of South Africa has granted integrated alternative and renewable-energy business Renergen’s Tetra4 subsidiary environmental authorisation for its Free State natural gas development. The authorisation, the processing of which has taken more than two years, with multiple rounds of public participation, was required to further the development of a natural gas resource through the creation of a 107 km pipeline network and associated gas processing facilities.

Solar switch flipped at WesBank and FNB’s Fairland campus

WesBank and First National Bank’s (FNB’s) 150 000 m2 campus, based in Fairland, Johannesburg, has officially switched on on 7 647 reflective photovoltaic cells across 1 010 parking, helping reduce the campus’s carbon footprint by 2 700 t/y. At peak efficiency, this system can generate 1.99 MW.

US energy research body aims to increase African impact with focus on energy poverty

Leading US public interest energy and environmental research organisation the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is aiming to increase its relevance and impact in Africa by integrating the problem of energy poverty into its portfolio of research activities. Senior regional manager Barry MacColl, who joined EPRI in August to oversee the organisation’s African, Middle Eastern, South East Asian and Oceanian operations, tells Engineering News Online that the intention is to offer technically sound solutions for increasing energy access across the continent. It is estimated that more than 600-million Africans still lack access to modern energy services.

Company completes second sustainable storage project

Self-storage solutions company Stor-Age earlier this year installed a complete solar photovoltaic (PV) system for the generation of its three-phase power requirements at its Tokai store in the Western Cape. This is the second store in Stor-Age’s portfolio to be fitted with PV panels, and forms part of the company’s ‘test phase’ for PV panels. The first store at which PV panels were installed was in Durbanville, also in the Western Cape, in September 2013.

Newly inaugurated PV microgrid to supply almost 50% of Robben Island’s electricity

Robben Island, a World Heritage Site has gone green with the installation of a R25-million solar energy, lithium-ion battery storage microgrid that will supply almost half of the island’s yearly electricity requirement. The Department of Tourism, together with the appointed engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor Sola Future Energy and technology provider ABB officially inaugurated the microgrid last month. Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa handed over the microgrid to the ...

Solar photovoltaic invention passes two-year milestone

Standalone solar photovoltaic (PV) social enterprise technology SolarTurtle, which provides low-cost energy for remote and unconnected communities, has been profitable and operational for more than two years in various communities, says SolarTurtle inventor, founder and manager James van der Walt. The system, built within a twenty-foot shipping container, with polycrystalline solar PV cells on top and an integrated inverter secured inside, harvests solar energy and stores some of the energy in lead crystal batteries, which do not liberate emit harmful or dangerous gases, overheat or contain dangerous chemicals. The enterprise also provides mobile device charging and microwave-based broadband Internet connections to the community at a low cost.

Reforms, business models key to unlocking private sector investment for climate change – IFC

Smart policy reforms and innovative business models can unlock the trillions of dollars in private investment that is needed to ensure Africa meets its climate targets as agreed to in the landmark Paris Agreement. The private sector, boasting innovation, the financing and resources, is considered to be the key to fighting climate change.

Report outlines vision for a million South African ‘climate jobs’

A new report has been released in an effort to mobilise South Africans behind the vision of creating a million ‘climate jobs’ as part of the country’s response to the threat posed by climate change. Published by the Alternative Information and Development Centre, the 60-page report has been produced under the banner of the ‘One Million Climate Jobs Campaign’, an alliance of South Africa labour and social movements, as well as popular organisations established in 2011 to coincide with Durban’s hosting of the United Nations climate change conference.

IFC and banks close $653m in funding for Egypt solar plants

International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, on Sunday said it had completed a $653-million debt package to finance building 13 solar power plants near Aswan in Egypt, planned to be part of the largest solar park in the world. Generating up to 752 megawatts of solar power, the Nubian Suns Feed-in-Tariff Financing Program is targeted to provide power to more than 350 000 residents and create up to 6 000 jobs during construction.

Loeriesfontein Wind Farm connected to grid

Loeriesfontein Wind Farm as well as Khobab Wind Farm, both located in the Northern Cape, are now connected to State-owned power utility Eskom’s grid, through Eskom’s Helios substation and the commissioning of wind turbines has started. “We energised the wind farm substations with Eskom Transmission’s Helios substation on September 28, marking a pivotal point in the construction of both of the wind farms, and will now continue the process of wind turbine commissioning,” explained independent renewable energy developer Mainstream Renewable Power’s country construction manager Kevin Foster.

Conference aims to strengthen cross-border relations

The prospects for wind power within and beyond the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) will be discussed at this year’s Windaba conference and exhibition, exploring opportunities outside South Africa’s borders, and consider ways of establishing cross-border projects.  This year’s theme of Windaba – the flagship project of the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) in proud partnership with the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) – is Wind power: Building Futures. The event will be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) from November 14 to 16.

Proper lubrication directly correlates with safety

Lubrication can have a big impact on the safety of wind turbine operations by reducing operational safety risk at an operation during equipment servicing and maintenance, says oil company ExxonMobil Europe, Africa and Middle East (EAME) SHC brand adviser Rainer Lange. He explains that, inspecting equipment to determine if any additional servicing is required before filing components with new oil during a routine oil change, which can be a fairly straightforward process for ground-based equipment, becomes much more complex for wind turbine equipment as maintenance teams must ascend the tower, at times to elevations as high as 121.92 m.

Rotor blade manufacturing facility officially opens in Tangier

Wind turbine components manufacturer Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) officially inaugurated its new rotor blade factory in Tangier, Morocco, earlier this month, at an event chaired by Moroccan Minister of Industry, Investment, Trade and Digital Economy, Moulay Hafid El Alamy, and Siemens Gamesa CEO Markus Tacke. The plant will service Africa and the Middle East and according to the statement released on October 11, “is ready to offer wind turbine blades ‘100% made in Morocco’.”

Wind energy sector still attractive to investors

Shorter fabrication time, lower costs for parts, and increased repeatability and uniformity have led to impressive improvements in the wind energy sector, says multidisciplinary engineering consultancy WSP Africa power director Dinesh Buldoo. “For instance, there is significant focus on advanced blade-manufacturing methods based mainly on alternative manufacturing techniques such as injection moulding, compression moulding and reaction injection moulding.”