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Solar Water Heating & Enviromental News in South Africa


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AHI changes name to SBI

Members of the Afrikaanse handelsinstituut (AHI) have adopted a new memorandum of incorporation and a new name, the Small Business Institute (SBI). “We would be proud if, over time, SBI becomes synonymous with credible research and public positions on all matters of interest to small business. Apart from a few hundred corporations and State-owned entities, over 95% of all businesses fall into this category,” SBI president Bernard Swanepoel said in a statement.

Wits seeks commercial partner for scalable DC-microgrid innovation

Researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand are aiming to commercialise a plug-and-play DC-microgrid innovation, which is incrementally scalable to any number of power sources, loads and batteries. The direct-current solution has already been proved at a laboratory level through a test-bed prototype, which has been operating at the respected Johannesburg higher-education institution since 2014.

Anticipated tariffs hike makes energy efficiency wise choice

A ruling by the Constitutional Court last month which allows State-owned power utility Eskom to retrospectively ask the National Energy Regulator of South Africa to permit Eskom to claw back additional tariffs from consumers, could lead to further hikes in the price of electricity for South Africans.

Big opportunity for change amid renewables-led disruption

As questions remain over what the future holds for South Africa’s power utility Eskom, there is a window of opportunity for utilities in developing countries to build on international power reform experience and design future power markets and operating systems to respond to new opportunities offered by the falling costs of renewable energy. South Africa has entered a “disruptive moment” in the power sector where prices for renewables are falling rapidly and the share of electricity production from renewable sources is growing on- and off-grid, says University of Cape Town (UCT) Graduate School of Business energy expert Professor Anton Eberhard.

Legal framework offers model for enhancing transboundary infrastructure investment

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca) has unveiled the Model Law that provides a framework for the harmonisation of cross-border rules, regulations, laws and policies governing transboundary infrastructure projects in Africa. The Model Law was unveiled at the yearly Nigerian Bar Association conference last month.

Zambia State power firm to end emergency power imports next year

Zambian State power company Zesco expects to end emergency power imports from Mozambique in the first quarter of next year, a senior executive said on Thursday. Zambia's power generation had improved and it will largely manage to meet its electricity requirements, Zesco Director of Transmission Webster Musonda told reporters.

Enel celebrates its Tom Burke solar plant

Some three years after expanding operations into South Africa, Italian renewable energy firm Enel Green Power (EGP) has established a significant presence locally, boasting more than 520 MW of wind and solar projects in operation, one of which was declared a National Key Point in June. The 66 MW Tom Burke photovoltaic power (PV) plant, in Limpopo, where Enel hosted a dedication ceremony on Wednesday for one of its first large-scale solar projects, feeds 122 GWh/y into the national grid and is supplying electricity to nine villages in the Lephalale region.

Mozambique hopes to raise $500m for renewable energy projects

Mozambique offered a portfolio of small renewable energy projects to foreign investors on Tuesday which it hopes will attract $500 million in investment and give everyone in the southern African country electricity by 2030. Around 60% of people living in Mozambique, which is highly indebted, have no access to electricity.

Two more firms fire KPMG as corporate South Africa weighs links with auditor

A South African broker and an energy investment firm fired KPMG on Tuesday, two of a host of local firms weighing whether to ditch the auditor to distance themselves from a scandal involving business friends of President Jacob Zuma. Sasfin and Hulisani, both relatively small financial companies based in Johannesburg, announced they would drop KPMG due to reputational risk.

Former Eskom R&D GM to facilitate electric tech transfer in Africa – EPRI

State-owned power utility Eskom’s former research, testing and development GM Barry MacColl has joined international nonprofit organisation, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), as an EPRI International senior regional manager facilitating technology transfer in Africa. EPRI has strengthened its coverage in Africa with the appointment of MacColl, who joined EPRI International from Eskom.

Big fall in DBSA disbursements partly attributed to renewables stand-off

The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) recorded a sharp fall in disbursements to R12.4-billion in 2017, from a record R17.1-billion in 2016, but has promised to "step up" its role as a catalyst of development in 2018, setting a R20-billion disbursement target for the year. The development finance institution (DFI) had been targeting disbursements of around R16.5-billion in the year to March 31, 2017, and CEO Patrick Dlamini attributed the lower figure partly to a refusal by Eskom to sign power purchase agreements (PPAs) with renewable-energy independent power producers (IPPs). The DBSA had, until the PPA impasse emerged last year, played a leading role in funding black ownership and community participation in the IPP projects and had been injecting around R3-billion a year into the programme.

New study points to 90% renewables mix being least cost by 2050

New analysis conducted using updated cost assumptions for solar photovoltaic (PV), onshore wind and batteries shows that the share of renewable energy in an electricity mix that would also be the least cost for South Africa could grow to above 90% by 2050. Such a portfolio, the study indicates, will be 30% cheaper than the generation mix currently outlined in the Draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) Base Case, published by the Department of Energy (DoE) in November 2016.

Smart regulation key to driving renewable energy sector

Smart regulation and market stimulation are key drivers for growing the renewable energy sector and help reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, Finnish Economic Affairs and Employment Deputy Minister Petri Peltonen said on Thursday. Speaking to Engineering News Online on the sidelines of the Nordic Energy Days conference, in Pretoria, he stated that when it came to renewable energy, government could help support the sector by streamlining regulation.

Renewables’ share of global energy market to rise, system stability central

The world’s energy system will decarbonise over the next three decades, says advisory services and risk management company DNV GL Africa business manager Robert O’Keefe. Unpacking DNV GL’s ‘Energy Transition Outlook 2017’ report at the Nordic Energy Days conference, in Pretoria, on Thursday, he noted that, 30 years from now, total energy-related carbon dioxide would be half of what it is today.

Southern African Power Pool could learn from Nordic countries’ approach to energy market

Southern Africa can take heed of the success of the Nordic region’s achievement of energy security through successful cross-border trade and integration, its integrated markets and other critical elements of the Nord Power Pool. This is the message that emerged from the first day of the three-day Nordic Energy Days conference, being held at the Innovation Hub, in Pretoria, from September 13 to 15.

Unido, WEC to disseminate sustainable energy solutions

The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) and the World Energy Council (WEC) have signed a joint declaration to support the global dissemination of sustainable energy solutions. The parties have committed to help develop leadership skills and the overall capacity of energy leaders and policy makers from developing countries; as well as to explore options to promote energy access through global platforms – such as the electrification accelerator within the Sustainable Energy for All initiative.

Energy sector has opportunity to change amid ‘disruptive moment’ caused by renewables

As questions remain over what the future holds for South Africa’s power utility Eskom, there is a window of opportunity for utilities in developing countries to build on international power reform experience and design future power markets and operating systems to respond to new opportunities offered by the falling costs of renewable energy. South Africa has entered a “disruptive moment” in the power sector where prices for renewables are falling rapidly and the share of electricity production from renewable sources is growing on- and off-grid, says University of Cape Town (UCT) Graduate School of Business energy expert Professor Anton Eberhard.

Honda previews 2019 electric car, showcases revenue opportunity for EV owners

Honda has revealed an all-new electric vehicle (EV), the Urban EV Concept, at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. The concept car is built on a completely new platform, and sets the direction for the technology and design that will appear on a future battery electric Honda production model.

Free State micro-grid pilot offers new universal-access hope

State-owned electricity utility Eskom is piloting a micro-grid system in a rural Free State town that may offer a solution to electrifying other remote areas, where the cost of connection to the national grid is currently prohibitive, due to a number of factors such as difficult terrain. The R4.2-million system, which has been deployed by Eskom Research, Testing and Development in Ficksburg, incorporates solar photovoltaic (PV) generation, battery storage and intelligent energy management. These technologies have been integrated into a standard low-voltage reticulation network, where electricity is delivered to consumers through conductor wires in a local distribution network.

Solar grid keeps harvests high, hospitals lit in parched rural Zimbabwe

Until recently, farmers in this town in southern Zimbabwe struggled to water their crops, frustrated by poor rainfall and the regular breakdown of the diesel engines that powered their irrigation systems. As in most areas of rural Zimbabwe, rain-fed agriculture provides most of the jobs in this part of Gwanda district, some 130km (80 miles) southeast of Bulawayo.

Alviva to leverage services strength for growth over next year

Business information and communication technology (ICT) company Alviva will leverage the investments made into its subsidiaries and infrastructure, which has helped to reduce gearing, broadened its offerings and improved efficiencies, to drive growth over the next year. The firm had increased the earnings from its services segment to 33% of total earnings for the financial year ended June 30 (R271.9-million of R824-million), up from 22.5% a year ago, Alviva CEO Pierre Spies said on Thursday.

Several risks to govt's proposed remedy for breaking renewables impasse

Creamer Media’s Samantha Herbst talks to Engineering News editor Terence Creamer about the Energy Minister’s October deadline for the signing of 26 renewables projects, along with the 77c/kWh price cap.

Cross-border power trade expected to rise as Southern Africa returns to surplus

The Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP) is expecting growth in regional electricity trade in 2017 after a return to surplus power generation capacity across Southern Africa, led by South Africa’s State-owned utility Eskom. Nevertheless, the potential for cross-border electricity trade is expected to remain constrained by inadequate transmission and interconnector capacity. Speaking at the power pool’s management committee meeting in Pretoria on Thursday, SAPP chairperson Ernest Mkhonta reported ...

Caution creeps in as renewables industry digests implications of 77c/kWh tariff cap

South Africa’s solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind industry bodies have added a degree of caution to their initial positive reactions to an announcement by Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi regarding the signing of power purchase agreements (PPAs) for 26 renewable-energy projects that have been on hold since their formal procurement in late 2015. Kubayi said the projects, which were procured during bid windows 3.5 and 4 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), would be signed by October 28. However she also announced that there would be a renegotiation of tariffs, with a cap of 77c/KWh placed on all projects, regardless of technology type.

Kubayi sets 77c/kWh price cap and October deadline for signing of 26 renewables projects

Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi opened the window on Friday for the signing of contracts for 26 renewable-energy independent power producer (IPP) projects that have been on hold since 2015 when Eskom indicated it was no longer willing to enter into further power purchase agreements (PPAs), owing to the utility's return to surplus capacity. However, the Minister also stipulated that all the projects would be subject to a 77c/kWh cap; a price point that could prove challenging in light of ...

Cost of rooftop solar can be lowered through use of 12J tax rebate

Businesses and property owners can leverage an industrial development-focused tax rebate, Section 12J of the Income Tax Act No 58 of 1962, to reduce the costs of installing solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Venture capital company Nesa Investment Holdings (NIH) has developed a solar PV rental model that enables companies to rent solar rooftop PV systems, thereby significantly reducing and even eliminating upfront capital investment requirements, says technical partner CreoVision and NIH director Peter Frolich.

Project to unlock local gas economy

The pursuit of piped gas into South Africa from Mozambique could unlock South Africa’s gas economy, says investment and project development company Fortune Capital.

Studies point to favourable outlook for vanadium redox flow battery

There is favourable demand for vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFBs), particularly in the utility and offgrid, as well as minigrid, markets, with demand to peak from 2025 to 2030. This is according to recently concluded market studies, commissioned by Aim-listed Bushveld Minerals’ energy subsidiary Bushveld Energy, in conjunction with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), in the second half of 2016. The studies were to assess African VRFB demand, opportunities and global vanadium electrolyte demand.

Study urges South Africa to find energy storage niche

With energy storage considered to be the “new wave” in the energy sector and increasingly becoming a reality, South Africa needs to prepare itself if it wishes to take advantage of the energy storage growth opportunities within the energy storage stationary value chain and the mobility value chain, says State-owned development finance institution Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) senior project development manager Bertie Strydom. Presenting an overview of an energy storage ...

Waste management company recommends alternative energy switch

Considering natural gas as an alternative energy source could prove beneficial for the country’s economy in the long run, says waste management company Interwaste COO Jason McNeil.

Uncertain power price path heightening grid-defection risk, EIUG warns

Energy Intensive Users Group of Southern Africa’s (EIUG’s) Piet Van Staden has expressed serious anxiety about the near-term sustainability of South Africa’s electricity industry in light of the prospect of yet more tariffs hikes, which would further damage industrial demand and, in turn, trigger yet higher tariffs for remaining consumers. Speaking at a South African National Energy Association conference in Johannesburg on Thursday, Van Staden warned that a price tipping point had been breached and that electricity intensive firms could be forced to defect from the grid should further double-digit increases be approved. Such defection could take the form of firms installing cheaper own- or co-generation plants, or result in operations being moved to jurisdictions where power prices and the price path were more attractive.

Kubayi to make much-anticipated renewables announcement on Friday

Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi will on Friday announce the outcome of stakeholder consultations regarding the signing of long-outstanding power purchase agreements (PPAs) for renewable-energy projects procured from independent power producers (IPPs) in 2015. The briefing, which will provide an update on progress regarding the PPA "deadlock", will take place in Pretoria at midday.

Tanzania invites bids for hydropower project in game reserve

Tanzania has invited bids to build a 2 100 MW hydroelectric plant in a World Heritage site renowned for its animal populations, despite opposition from conservationists to the long-delayed project. 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 and end chronic electricity shortages. The project would more than double the country's power generation capacity.

CIG expects lower FY17 earnings

JSE-listed Consolidated Infrastructure Group (CIG) expects its earnings per share (EPS) and headline earnings per share (HEPS) for the financial year ended August 31, to decrease by 25% to 35%. EPS are expected to be between 165.75c and 191.25c, compared with 225c in the 2016 financial year, while HEPS will be between 165.95c and 191.25c, compared with 255.3c in the prior year.

Nigeria awards dam power plant contract to Chinese State firm again

Nigeria has approved the construction of a $5.8-billion hydroelectric power plant by a Chinese State firm, the power minister said on Wednesday, the latest in a series of Chinese deals since the project was first envisioned decades ago. The project, if completed, could provide a much needed source of energy for Nigeria. Despite its wealth of crude oil, Africa’s largest economy has long struggled with rickety power infrastructure, leaving many homes and businesses dependent on costly and inefficient fuel-powered generators.

Zambia's CEC to restore full power to Glencore's Mopani Copper Mines

Zambian electricity utility Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) and Glencore's Mopani Copper Mines have reached an agreement to restore full power supply to the mine from Wednesday, the president's office said. Details of the agreement, which was facilitated by the government, will be finalised over a six-week period, presidential spokesperson Amos Chanda said in a statement.

Managing the socioeconomic impacts of SA’s lower-carbon economy transition

In this opinion piece, Jarredine Morris argues that it is important that the socioeconomic impacts, including the impact on employment, are assessed as South Africa transitions to a lower-carbon electricity sector