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Solar Water Heating & Enviromental News in South Africa


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Nigeria clears hurdle for Africa’s second-biggest hydro plant

Nigeria will build the second-largest hydroelectric plant in Africa after the government settled a legal dispute that was delaying the project, Power Minister Sale Mamman said. “We have now overcome the major problem stopping this project and it is nearly over,” Mamman said in an interview in Abuja, the capital. He said Attorney General Abubakar Malami is finalising the terms of the settlement, which are undisclosed.

As South Africa prepares to resume renewables procurement, new global report points to rising ...

As South Africa prepares to restart its electricity procurement programmes, following a five-year hiatus, the global popularity of competitive auctions as the preferred instrument for procuring renewable energy has again been highlighted in a newly released report. Published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) this week, the report states that 106 countries had adopted competitive procurement for renewable-based electricity by the end of 2018, up from only eight in 2005.

Cape Town adds more energy to Indaba

The decision to host this year’s Africa Energy Indaba at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on March 3 and 4, rather than in Johannesburg, where it was hosted previously, has resulted in increased interest from African and global delegates to attend the event, says Africa Energy Indaba trade fair organisers Siyenza Events MD Liz Hart. “The allure of Cape Town as a tourist destination does play a role in attendance. In addition to this, many energy companies are located in Cape Town, making attendance easier.”

New energy paradigm can drive Africa’s development

Africa can meet its major sustainable energy and development goals without becoming more energy intensive, as it has a unique opportunity to use renewable energy, natural gas and energy efficiency to meet its development needs and provide reliable and modern energy services. This is the prediction of the International Energy Agency (IEA) from its ‘Africa Energy Outlook’ report, released in November, based on the African Case scenario, which is predicated on the measures and supporting policies required to achieve the Africa Agenda 2063. The other scenario, the Stated Policies scenario, includes current and announced energy policies in Africa.

Energy institute to focus on IRP at Indaba

The publication of the long-awaited Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) in October last year will be a significant focus area for State-owned energy researcher the South African National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi) at this year’s Africa Energy Indaba. “The publication of the IRP provides clear guidelines for the amounts of alternative energy sources that have to be brought on-stream to diversify the current coal-dominated energy mix in the country. This is also a positive development for project developers and consumers,” enthuses Sanedi energy efficiency and corporate communications GM Barry Bredenkamp.

LED company aims to benefit from trade agreement at Indaba

This year’s Africa Energy Indaba will provide light-emitting-diode (LED) technology provider Grandstage Trading with opportunities to explore how it will achieve its objectives through the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which will be a significant topic at the event. The company’s long-term goal is to electrify rural and marginalised African communities to promote economic development, and to provide its energy efficient lighting solutions to these communities, says Grandstage Trading CEO Christine Masaiti.

Indaba increases prospect of project funding

The Africa Energy Indaba provides an ideal opportunity for State-owned export credit agency (ECA) the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa (ECIC) to become more involved in the funding of significant energy infrastructure projects. “The Indaba raises the ECIC’s profile as an important player in facilitating the appropriate funding and bankable solutions that will enable the financing of key energy infrastructure projects,” states ECIC COO Mandisi Nkuhlu.

Company launches lithium solar battery range

Lithium iron phosphate batteries – the battery of the future – provide powerful solutions to consumers and commercial enterprises alike, particularly in solar installations.  For South Africans, however, taking advantage of these batteries has been hindered by a high price tag as a result of import costs. Automotive batteries importer Probe’s launch of a lithium iron phosphate house brand – the Max Li range – reduces this barrier by offering an affordable alternative that does not compromise on quality. 

Power cuts push businesses towards alternative solutions

With the prevalent load-shedding now a part of South Africa’s long-term reality, the private sector is increasingly seeking solutions to minimise the operational and financial implications of the crisis. In the spotlight as an alternative to the national grid is the deployment of battery storage, from standalone systems to solutions combined with rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

DBSA provides funds to Mozambican supplier of solar home systems

The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) has committed project funding to Ignite Mozambique, a local company that aims to supply solar home systems in rural Mozambique. The DBSA made the announcement during the Global Off-Grid Solar Forum and Expo 2020, on Thursday, adding that it would also be the lead arranger for the debt funding for Ignite Mozambique’s endeavour to connect 1.8-million people to clean power.

I'm not dithering on more energy capacity, says Mantashe

Mineral Resources And Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe on Thursday said there was no deliberate delay on his part in bringing more renewable power to the grid to solve South Africa's energy crisis, but simultaneously declined to commit to timelines on signing up additional capacity. "One of the things you like is time frames so that you can say 'you didn't do it'," he told journalists at a wide-ranging media briefing in Cape Town.

ARCH invests $16.5m in African distributed solar provider

London-based advisory firm ARCH Emerging Markets Partners’ Africa Renewable Power Fund will provide CrossBoundary Energy (CBE) with up to $16.5-million in equity funding. This will help CBE develop and finance new commercial and industrial solar assets, which will in turn provide businesses across Africa with access to cheaper, cleaner power.

Mantashe says Ministerial Determinations needed to unlock IRP 2019 are finalised and await ...

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe announced on Wednesday that the Section 34 Ministerial Determinations required to give effect to the Integrated Resource Plan 2019 had been finalised and were currently serving before the National Energy Regulator of South Africa in order to secure the regulator's concurrence. Addressing lawmakers in the debate on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2020 State of the Nation Address, Mantashe also announced that the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy had received 481 responses to its request for information for supply and demand solutions to close an immediate supply shortfall of 2 000 MW and that a Section 34 Determination for emergency power procurement had also been finalised and also awaited Nersa's concurrence.

Grid-scale containerised energy storage system launched in South Africa

Energy solutions company BlueNova Energy, part of JSE-listed Reunert Group, on Wednesday launched its grid-scale Intelligent Energy Storage System (iESS) at Reunert Park, in Midrand, where the first unit has been installed to support businesses occupying the office park. The BlueNova Energy iESS, which is housed in a shipping container, is the first of its kind to be produced in South Africa.

New Concor chief sees surge in issuance of large tenders as sign of possible construction turnaround

Newly appointed Concor CEO Lucas Tseki believes the strong flow of tenders in the last quarter of 2019 could signal that the domestic construction market is finally bottoming out. He is also cautiously optimistic that infrastructure-focused departments and State-owned enterprises (SOEs) are, at last, starting to align their expenditure programmes with government’s stated intention of using infrastructure to catalyse growth and investment.

Eskom CEO says it wants hand in negotiating IPP pricing

Eskom wants to play a role in negotiating the price at which new and existing independent power producers sell electricity to the embattled utility, CEO Andre de Ruyter told MPs on Tuesday, "It is very important that [with] the roll-out of the new IPP programme that Eskom, as the ultimate buyer of the electricity produced by the IPPs, be involved in the negotiations of the commercial terms," De Ruyter told parliament's watchdog Standing Committee on Public Accounts. 

South Africa’s ‘Energy War Room’ to meet for first time

South Africa’s Energy War Room, a grouping of the main cabinet ministers responsible for the power industry, will meet for the first time this week since being reconstituted by President Cyril Ramaphosa in December as the country battles an electricity crisis that’s stalling economic growth. The team, which is headed by Deputy President David Mabuza and includes the Finance, Energy and Public Enterprises Ministers, will meet on Thursday, according to the deputy president’s office, which didn’t give further detail.

Cape Town energy company to install hybrid solar PV system at Botswana lodge

Engineering, procurement and construction company 1Energy has been awarded a contract to design and install an energy system at a luxury lodge in Botswana. The hybrid energy system at the Xigera Safari Lodge will comprise a 400 kW solar photovoltaic plant, which will be supported by Tesla Powerpacks with a power capacity of 285 kW and a total available storage capacity of 1.14 MWh.

Renewables bodies call for clear timelines after Ramaphosa commits to restarting IPP procurement

South Africa’s wind and solar industry bodies have welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s commitment, made in his 2020 State of the Nation Address (SoNA), to restarting the long-delayed Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). However, they have also called on government to provide clear implementation timelines for the REIPPPP, as well as the other interventions outlined in the address aimed at significantly increasing generation capacity outside of Eskom. Ramaphosa announced that a Section 34 Ministerial Determination would be published soon to give effect to the Integrated Resource Plan 2019 (IRP 2019), which has large wind and solar photovoltaic allocations to 2030, and that the REIPPPP Bid Window 5 would also be initiated.

Ramaphosa announces far-reaching actions to boost power generation ‘outside of Eskom’

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday announced far-reaching and practical interventions to address South Africa’s growth- and confidence-sapping electricity crisis, including several steps to “significantly increase generation capacity outside of Eskom”. He also warned, however, that “debilitating” load-shedding would remain a “possibility for the immediate future”, while State-owned power utility Eskom undertook the “fundamental maintenance necessary to improve the reliability of supply”.

South Africa poised to add 3.3 GW of wind power by 2024 – GWEC

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) is forecasting that South Africa will emerge as the leading wind energy market in Africa and the Middle East over the coming five years, with installations of 3.3 GW by 2024. In a statement released this week, the council reported that only 894 MW of new wind energy capacity was added across the two regions in 2019, representing a seven per cent decline on the 962 MW installed in 2018.

Uganda says Chinese firm applies to build $1.4bn power plant on the Nile

A Chinese firm has applied to Ugandan authorities for a licence to develop a $1.4-billion hydropower plant that could potentially expand the country's generation capacity by 40% according to a regulatory official and papers seen by Reuters. The firm, POWERCHINA International Group Limited (PIGL), wants to develop the Ayago Hydroelectric Power Station, located on a section of River Nile between the lakes Kyoga and Albert, according to its licence application seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

Business urges Ramaphosa to use SoNA to clear way for private energy generation ‘at scale’

Organised business has urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to use his upcoming State of the Nation Address (SoNa) to announce that the regulations needed to enable “private sector energy generation at scale” will be put in place urgently by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe so as to help alleviate pressure on South Africa’s power-stressed grid. In a statement released on Tuesday, Business Unity South Africa (Busa) added Mantashe should also make the necessary “Ministerial New Generation Determinations”, in concurrence with the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa), to initiate renewables and gas procurement as required by the Integrated Resource Plan 2019 (IRP 2019).

World emissions kept in check as rich nations kick coal habit

Global emissions from energy held steady in 2019 for the first time in three years as developed nations continued to move away from coal power and toward renewable energy and natural gas. Even as the world economy grew, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions remained at 33.3-billion tons. Increases in the developing world were matched by a drop from advanced economies, which spewed the least since 1993, according to an International Energy Agency report published Tuesday. The US and European Union led declines, with Germany reducing emissions to levels not seen since the 1950s.

Google abandons plans to buy stake in Africa’s biggest wind park

Vestas Wind Systems is shopping for a new buyer for its 12.5% stake in Africa’s largest wind farm after Google dropped plans to purchase it following project delays. The Danish turbine manufacturer blamed the Alphabet unit’s decision to pull out on “delays relating primarily to the transmission line” for the $679-million Lake Turkana Wind Power project, in Kenya. The 310 MW farm’s high-voltage link to the grid, scheduled for completion in October 2016, was delayed by two years after contractors were changed.

South Africa to fast-track continental infrastructure projects

South Africa will fast-track four continent-wide infrastructure projects in which it’s involved, including a $14-billion dam on the Congo river, President Cyril Ramaphosa said as the country assumed the chair of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa. The country will drive the Inga III power project alongside the Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, Botswana and Angola; road and rail infrastructure along the Beitbridge border post, which connects it to neighbouring Zimbabwe and Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, which will increase its supply of water and generate electricity for Lesotho.

Consortium makes Richards Bay gas-to-power proposal in response to DMRE’s call for emergency ...

A black-empowered consortium that includes companies with extensive gas-to-power experience has made a formal submission to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) in which plans for power generation plants capable of adding between 300 MW and 3 300 MW to South Africa’s grid within 12 to 36 months are outlined. The offer has been made in response to a request for information (RFI) released by the DMRE in December in an effort to inform an upcoming ‘Risk Mitigation Power Purchase Programme’, which will seek to address an immediate supply deficit of 3 000 MW with solutions that can be “grid connected in the shortest time at the least possible cost”.

Ramaphosa calls for SA, Germany to tackle energy challenges

As German chancellor Angela Merkel began a state visit to South African on Thursday, president Cyril Ramaphosa called for greater cooperation between the two nations on clean energy, low carbon growth and skills training. Speaking after bilateral talks with Merkel, Ramaphosa said they had agreed to work together to bring more German investment into South Africa, which would in turn bring a skills transfer that would address dire youth unemployment.

AMSA says regulatory changes could open way for 100 MW Vanderbijl solar farm

Steel producer ArcelorMittal South Africa (AMSA) believes there is potential to develop a 75 MW to 100 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant adjacent to its Vanderbijlpark mill, in Gauteng. The JSE-listed company is also convinced that such a project could proceed relatively quickly should South Africa’s regulatory framework be adapted to support generation projects larger than 10 MW and be developed on the back of a long-term offtake agreement with an independent power producer (IPP). CEO Kobus Verster said on Thursday that AMSA, which reported a net loss of R3.3-billion in 2019 and which faces an uncertain market outlook for the coming year, was not itself in a position to set aside capital for a solar PV plant. Nevertheless, there was a strong  business case for entering into a multidecade power purchase agreement with a third-party supplier, which could locate its solar plant on the AMSA-owned land surrounding the mill.

DRC to benefit from rise in global copper demand

Canadian mining company Ivanhoe Mines chairperson Robert Friedland is capitalising on the rising need for more copper globally, with a mission to restore the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC's) position as the number one producer of copper metal in the world. Friedland told the 2020 Investing in African Mining Indaba, in Cape Town, that the company was building "three of the best mines in the world" through its Kamoa-Kakula copper project in the DRC, and that it was exploring for the next giant copper mine.  

Mazars says Mboweni facing a daunting task as he prepares to deliver the 2020 Budget

The upcoming National Budget is likely to be a “watershed moment” for South Africa, accounting and consulting group Mazars tax partner Bernard Sacks said on Tuesday. Speaking to media at a pre-Budget briefing, he said the Budget itself would, however, not be a “watershed Budget”.

Hydrogen fuel cell technology ‘not too far away’ – Sibanye-Stillwater

Even though society had begun to move towards battery electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell technology would be the real disrupter of the electric vehicle market, Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman predicted on Tuesday. Sibanye-Stillwater is the world’s largest primary producer of platinum, which is a key ingredient of fuel cells.

Thousands of jobs wait for next wind farm bid round, says association

Thousands of jobs await a Ministerial determination to give the green light for the next round of wind farms to be built. South Africa Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) says South Africa’s energy transition is poised to unlock economic growth and deliver thousands of much-needed jobs at a time when the country faces staggering unemployment rates.

Solar power overwhelming choice of self-generating mines – Minerals Council

The new potential self-generation electricity projects being proposed by Minerals Council South Africa members are overwhelmingly solar power projects, along with some solar-diesel hybrid power projects for overnight operations, and “a little bit” of baseload coal. “The vast majority are renewables projects,” said Minerals Council CEO Roger Baxter in response to Mining Weekly at the Investing in African Mining Indaba.

Minister keen to get generation outside of Eskom going soonest

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe is keen to get electricity generation going outside of Eskom as fast as possible with a view to creating a competitive environment that will lower the cost of electricity. Speaking at a media conference at the Investing in African Mining Indaba, Mantashe said that generation outside of Eskom could be done by the public sector, private sector or a combination of the two, and would be dependent on investor appetite.

Video: Minerals Council chairperson Mgojo talks about electricity self-generation

Minerals Council South Africa chairperson Mxolisi Mgojo on Monday told delegates and media attending the Investing in African Mining Indaba 2020, in Cape Town, that the council had been speaking to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy and other industry stakeholders about the impediments faced by the mining industry in getting electricity self-generation projects going. He noted that talks have also been held with power utility Eskom.

Video: Baxter discusses mining industry's electricity self-generation plan

Minerals Council South Africa CEO Roger Baxter on Monday stressed that the reliability of electricity supply was critical for the mining industry. This followed an announcement by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe earlier in the day that government would make it easier for South African mining companies to generate their own electricity.