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News and Press Releases - 25 Degrees in Africa
Vodacom has already achieved energy savings of R6,5 million from its solar array project that was installed at its Cape Town offices in March. Vodacom’s executive head of media for corporate social investment and sustainability, Suraya Hamdulay, said the group is continuously looking at various renewable and alternative energy options, such as solar- and wind-powered base stations, diesel-battery hybrids and fuel cells to reduce its reliance on grid power and diesel generators. Hamdulay noted that the group would scale up the roll-out of more energy-efficient sites and the deployment of renewable energy, and that Vodacom has set a carbon reduction…
Exxaro Resources recently teamed up with French GDF Suez to build a privately owned 600MW power station near Lephalale in Limpopo. Exxaro’s executive head of operations, Mxolisi Mgojo, said the company would develop the Thabametsi mine as a multiproduct operation, to provide coal to the power station as well as domestic and export markets, but would not invest in the station. Both Mgojo and GDF Suez’s energy head of business development for Southern Africa, Sanjith Mungroo, said it is too early to provide capital estimates for the project. Industry estimates are that it could cost between R15 billion and R20…
Google recently finalised its first energy deal in Africa with a R12-million investment in several solar power projects being built in South Africa. Due to the considerable investments involved in the roll-out of the Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) over the next 17 years, companies will be required to have surety insurance, a type of insurance that gives the assurance that a contractor will fulfil promised duties and, if not, employers or project owners would be indemnified for specific amounts. Santam recently increased its involvement in the energy sector and is providing surety for various renewable energy projects, including the notable…
An impressive collection of 175 giant wind turbines have been gracing the Unite Thames Estuary since April 2012.   The 630-megawatt (MW) expanse promises to shrink the United Kingdom’s (UK) carbon footprint. Backed by large energy companies Dong, E.ON and Masdar, it is estimated that the turbines will cut CO₂ emissions by 900 000 tons a year. An offshore wind farm can make sense if you have the territory, money and constantly blowing wind, and the UK has been actively tapping into this resource. According to a recent article by The Daily Mail, plans to create an even bigger offshore…
According to a recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), A Tale of Renewed Cities, crowded transportation systems result in significant wastes in time and fuel. The report estimates that cities which address the issue by investing in improved energy-efficiency of transportation systems could collectively save $70 trillion by 2050. The report turns to case studies in cities that have already implemented successful policies to improve transportation efficiency. The IEA suggests an “avoid, shift and improve approach” to transportation planning, which will help to reduce the burden on transportation systems, encourage the use of energy-efficient modes of transportation and…
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in conjunction with BASF, undertook an energy and thermal performance research project in 2011 and 2012 on a house constructed on the CSIR Innovation Site in Pretoria using BASF materials. Helm Construction erected the house using the Imison Walling System 3, which is certified by Agrément. The study analysed the energy and thermal performance of a highly insulated demonstration house (the BASF House) through actual data collection and thermal modeling. Temperature data collection took place between December 2011 and April 2013. The research entailed measuring actual temperature readings inside the house and…
  It was recently reported that South Africa has the most expensive natural gas and the 15th most expensive electricity in the world out of the countries surveyed. Theprice of electricity in South Africa also showed the third largest increase over the survey period. This is according to NUS Consulting Group‘s annual International Energy Report & Price Survey – a comprehensive analysis and discussion of energy market developments, as well as year-onyear price movements and forecasts in countries around the world. According to Arthur Chien, CEO of Talesun Energy, a leading supplier of solar energy, it is due to the…
The Southern African Plastic Pipe Manufacturer’s Association (SAPPMA) will be releasing its revised 2013-2014 Technical Manual at the end of August 2013. According to Jan Venter, SAPPMA Chief Executive Officer, the purpose of this annually updated manual is to provide basic, relevant and updated information to engineers when they select and specify the plastic pipes that are to be used in water supply and waste-water disposal applications. “Pipelines form key part of a South Africa’s infrastructure and should therefore be long-term.  Modern plastic pipe materials are easily suitable for hundred year lifetimes and the engineers involved in specification processes need…
The fourth annual China Sourcing Fair: Solar and Energy-Saving Products in South Africa, will be held at Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg on 7-9 November 2013. The fair acts as a sourcing platform for global buyers and suppliers. This year’s fair will focus on allowing savvy business-minded individuals to enhance or start sustainable businesses in the booming green energy market. Designed to serve buyers in the region and nearby markets, the fair, which is the biggest of its kind in South Africa, provides a convenient and cost-effective sourcing platform for more global buyers. China is South Africa’s major source of…
KROHNE South Africa is set to deliver a 3.5m long flow meter with an inside diameter of 3m, the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere, as part of Rand Water’s BG3 project. John Alexander, sales and marketing manager for KROHNE South Africa, explains: “We have been working on this project for the past three and a half years. The project aims to significantly increase the amount of water Rand Water can transport from the Vaal Dam to the Suikerbos Water Treatment Plant, which is one of the biggest plants in the southern hemisphere.” The previous largest flow meter…
BP said it had withdrawn about 60 people, leaving only 40 essential expat workers in the country. BG Group, which usually has about 150 expat staff and dependents in Egypt, said it had withdrawn about 100 people. Both companies said all their staff were safe and their operations in the country continued unaffected. Dozens of Egyptians have been killed in running battles between supporters of ousted democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi and those celebrating his overthrow in a military coup. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Cairo and there have been fatal clashes in other…
Eskom and Nissan have joined forces on a three-year research project to study electric vehicles, their charging requirements, and characteristics. With this, the national energy supplier and the car maker hope to prepare for the entry of electric vehicles into the South African market, and gain insight into their effect on the national grid.This collaboration follows projects by the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Technology Innovation Agency aimed at creating public awareness of electric vehicles (EVs). Eskom’s general manager of research testing and development, Barry MacColl, explained: “Eskom has been doing EV research of one form or another for…
Pretoria’s citizens watched in anticipation as the iconic Munitoria building, the previous headquarters of the City of Tshwane was bulldozed on Sunday, 7 July. The 44-year-old building was wrapped in a blast curtain and demolished to make way for the new municipal headquarters, named Tshwane House. The structure had suffered significant fire damage on various occasions. Tshwane House will be built in partnership with a business consortium. The consortium includes Standard Bank, Nedbank, Group 5 and an assortment of smaller partners. SOURCE: Sapa
The Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi, MP, will award water competition prizes to youth for best water conservation innovations at the closing ceremony of the Youth Water Summit, on 05 July 2013, in Birchwood hotel, Boksburg.The announcement of the water competition prizes is a culmination of a week-long intensive educational programme for young people where they engaged in various exciting activities such as excursions, public speaking, debates and national competitions. The Deputy Minister will award the innovative water competition prizes in the following categories:•         Baswa le Meetse (Youth in Water) - This competition-based project targets Grade…
Africa’s growing economy is continuously stopped in its tracks by a significant lack of access to electricity in most of its countries. United States (U.S) president Barack Obama aimed to address this challenge by recently announcing the Power Africa initiative, which is aimed at doubling access to power throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The initial phase of the programme will partner with Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and Tanzania to expand electricity access. The initiative has also obtained significant monetary investments from the private sector to fund energy projects. General Electric, for example, plans to bring 5,000 megawatts of new energy to…
An interesting new take on an artificial photosynthesis system was recently developed by researchers at Chalmers University of Technology. The new system is composed of self-assembling DNA molecules mixed with simple dye molecules. “It’s all over if a bond breaks. If DNA is used instead to organise the light-collecting molecules, the same precision is not achieved but a dynamic self-constructing system arises,” states Jonas Hannestad, PhD of physical chemistry. In photosynthetic plants and algae, sunlight is redirected to a reaction center in which the energy of the sunlight can then be used to synthesize sugars and other molecules. “If any…
A German turbine maker, Nordex SE (NDX1), recently won an order to supply a 134,4MW South African wind farm in the Eastern Cape, which will be developed by Cennergi, a joint venture of Exxaro and Tata Power Company. Construction on the wind farm will start in the third quarter of 2014 and it should start operation by June 2016. South Africa plans to acquire a total of 3 725MW of renewable energy by the end of 2016. SOURCE: Bloomberg
Dealing with water supply for fast growing Great Maputo Metropolitan Area Amersfoort, the Netherlands, 19 June 2013 – International consultancy, engineering and project management service provider Royal HaskoningDHV together with international water utilities company Vitens Evides International (VEI) will develop a new  water distribution system for northern Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique. This distribution system will ultimately supply safe drinking water to 550,000 residents and 20,000 households. The Royal HaskoningDHV lead consortium has been commissioned by Fundo de Investimento e Patrimonio do Asbestecimento de Agua of Mozambique (FIPAG) to implement all services required for the Development Phase of this…
With the increasing pressure put on governments to provide more electricity with scarce resources, it has become a challenge for industry to effectively control its electricity usage. Developing countries and the economies in transition account for 60% of industry's total final energy consumption. As a result, modest energy efficiency improvement rates will not be sufficient to stabilise or decrease the sector's energy demand in absolute terms. In order to make significant reductions, ambitious energy savings measures need to be implemented. Smart initiatives such as 4M have made this easier for consumers by suggesting to “switch off” or to simply use…
Renewable energy is growing rapidly and will edge out natural gas as the second biggest source of electricity, after coal, by 2016, according to a five-year outlook published Wednesday by the International Energy Agency (IEA). “As their costs continue to fall, renewable power sources are increasingly standing on their own merits versus new fossil-fuel generation,” said IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven as she presented the report at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum in New York. “This is good news for a global energy system that needs to become cleaner and more diversified, but it should not be an…
Eskom, employers and labour organisations at the Medupi and Kusile project sites have established a partnership agreement, which aims to stabilise labour relations on site and expedite delivery of the two new power stations. The agreement aims to ensure consistent and acceptable treatment for all the workers at the two sites. Brian Dames, chief executive officer (CEO) at Eskom, says: “This is an innovative and far-reaching agreement which commits all the partners – Eskom, contractors and labour – to work together to deliver at Medupi and Kusile, and provide the new capacity needed to support growth and development for South…
According to AE-Africa, South Africa’s Dedisa and Avon power plants will serve as the country’s first large-scale independent power producer (IPP) projects, forming part of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP). The Avon project will consist of a single 670MW plant and Dedisa of a 335MW plant. Both projects will cost about $1 billion (R10 billion). Commercial operation is expected to start in the first quarter of 2016. SOURCE: AE-Africa
According to AE-Africa, Selectra CC received giant king grass from an international supplier, Viaspace Inc., in an attempt to remediate land that was negatively affected by gold mining, while also producing energy feedstock. Viaspace identified thousands of hectares of soiled land from crushed rock that was processed to remove gold in the country, states the website. These soils are often spoilt for growing food crops due to high levels of contamination. The positive point, however, is that it is often perfectly suited to grow non-cellulose crops that can generate energy. The grass provided by Viaspace is able to effectively remove…
A recent report by the London-based Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) confirmed that the world’s largest cities have been actively working towards greater energy-efficiency. The report studied 110 cities’ energy usage, including Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Singapore, Sydney, New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, Moscow, Paris and London. It was released after the G8 World Summit, which was hosted by Britain in the third week of June. Conor Rifle, head of the CDP’s cities programme, said: “Cities are hotbeds of innovation, and local governments have been quick to implement many new ways to combat…
The recently launched final draft of the Carbon Tax Policy Discussion Paper raised many concerns with large businesses in many industry sectors of South Africa.  The controversial topic of the implementation of carbon tax was left open for comment by concerned industry and public decision-makers and is still open for comment until 2 August 2013. On 18 June, the National Business Initiative (NBI) hosted an information session in which senior officials from the National Treasury were able to engage with the public on key elements, revisions and issues of the latest draft of the Carbon Tax Policy within its facilitation…
South Africa’s Minister of Energy, Dipuo Peters, recently joined the SA Wind Energy Association in celebration of World Wind Day in Cape Town.   Global Wind Day is celebrating internationally, and is held on 15 June of each year.   The chief executive officer of the SA Wind Energy Association, Johan van den Berg, said: “We are extremely honoured that the Minister of Energy, who is an internationally recognised renewable energy champion, has made herself available to participate in this youth-focused event. “Educating our children about the benefits of renewable energy and the realities of climate change is essential in…
Google has recently invested R103 million in a 96MW solar photovoltaic (PV) plant to be developed near Upington. According to the Internet search engine giant, the Jasper Power Project plant will be one of the largest solar installations on the continent, and will be able to generate enough electricity to power 30 000 homes. The project is being developed and funded by the renewable energy developer Intikon Energy, the empowerment investment firm Kensani Group and the US energy firm SolarReserve. Google’s Rick Needham says: “We look for projects that have transformative potential – that is projects that will bolster the…
In 2009 Carel Snyman and Winstone Jordaan joined forces to create GridCars, a company focused on research and development on new technologies, alternative energy and innovation opportunities in the transport sector. One of the company’s first successful conversions was in the mid 1990’s. The duo converter an Opel Corsa light delivery truck into a fully electric vehicle using a system supplied by AC Propulsion. The vehicle managed to reach a speed of 100km/h in eight seconds using 100kW power, which proved that the myth of electric vehicles being slow was just that – a myth. GridCars’ production of electric vehicles…
The Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) have injected over R1.2-billion into the Nelson Mandela Bay construction industry over the past two quarters. Air Products South Africa is also about to begin construction of its R300-million state-of-the-art air separation unit in Zone 3 in July, bringing the total number of projects being built to seven. Ayanda Vilakazi, Coega head of marketing, said the activity meant major spinoffs not only for lead contractors, but also sub-contractors, suppliers and the whole built environment supply chain: “At a time when there is industry malaise at a national level, the Coega IDZ is experiencing a…
A recent research paper, titled A carbon nanotube-infused polysulfone membrane with polyvinyl alcohol layer for treating oil-containing waste water, was published in Scientific Reports.According to researchers on the paper, high volumes of wastewater in the form of oil-water emulsion are produced in various industries such as oil fields, petrochemical, metallurgical, pharmaceutical and others. Membrane filtration and reverse osmosis has been successfully used in the separation of oil from water, and is useful because of the high quality water produced, simpler module design, low amount of chemicals used and low energy consumption compared to other treatment techniques. However, these techniques are…
Charging in 1.5 hours with unique fast charger and a more powerful motor  From 0-70 km/h in 5.9 seconds and a full recharge in only 1.5 hours - the first electric cars emerging from the strategic partnership between Volvo Cars and Siemens most certainly live up to Volvo's commitment to electrification by enhancing acceleration and customer flexibility.  From mid- 2013, European leasing customers will drive and evaluate an upgraded demo fleet of 100 Volvo C30 fully electric cars. The unique technology solutions involved can be integrated throughout the electrification range, as Volvo develops the cars of the future. The new…
3W Power/AEG Power Solutions (AEG PS), a leading global manufacturer of power electronic systems and solutions for industrial power supplies and renewable energies, continues to advance their localisation programme with up to 65% of components sourced locally through South African manufacturers. As a testament to the company‘s focus on meeting the Department of Energy’s  REIPPP (Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme) localisation objectives, and South Africa’s vision of becoming the solar generating hub of the continent, AEG PS has invested in a utility-scale solar inverter manufacturing facility in Cape Town. The facility, based in Montague Park, Milnerton, was officially opened…
The Hydropower sector has drawn a lot of attention in recent years, especially in Africa. According to a report by the International Hydropower Association (IHA), close to 30GW of new hydropower was commissioned in 2012, including about 2GW of pumped storage. The African continent has the ongoing debacle of having significant unexploited renewable sources, and the development of hydropower and other renewables have become the single most important priority on many African countries' development agenda. Read more about the future of hydropower in Africa in the next issue (journal4) of 25Degrees in Africa. Source: International Hydropower Association, "2013 Hydropower Report"
Promethium Carbon recently launched its Corporate carbon Footprint Tool. The tool was designed to do a basic calculation of an organisation’s carbon footprint, base on energy consumption and other data. It offers a tutorial on the use of the tool with reference to the source documentation. The tool reports on Scope 1 and 2 emissions by analysing the carbon footprint against the currently indicated regulatory framework, with respect to the following issues:• Requirements for mandatory reporting.• Requirements for the submission of greenhouse gas mitigation plans.• Cabon tax impacts. The Promethium Carbon Corporate Carbon Footprint Tool is the first step companies…
The further anticipated price hike of conventional electricity from mid-2013 onwards creates a viable economic argument for the use of alternative sources of energy. While alternative sources of energy may have been too costly to contemplate a few years ago, now the cost of renewable energy components has decreased from approximately R54.00 to R5.40. This makes the installation of a renewable energy system on a corporate, industrial or commercial retail building roof, a far more viable investment. In terms of pricing, the cost of electricity and renewable energy are on par, the term used, being grid parity. Over recent months,…
The proposed amendments to South Africa’s Gas Bill would open the gas industry and include a platform for the potential development of the country’s much-contested shale gas resource. The Department of Energy (DOE) had reviewed the Gas Act in an attempt to close “gaps” in the framework and deal with compliance issues. It also aimed to widen the role the National Energy Regulator of South Africa would play in monitoring and enforcing compliance. The DoE plans to submit the Act to Cabinet for approval before the financial year-end. The window period for the submission of comments remains open until 1…
Chinese, South Korean and Spanish firms are vying to develop a hydropower project likely to cost between $9 billion and $14 billion on the Congo River, Congolese officials said. The planned Inga 3 scheme, which aims to overcome power shortages that have curtailed economic growth in Africa, would produce some 4 800MW of electricity and is one of the largest proposed power projects in Africa. It would be sited about 230km southwest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) capital, Kinshasa. The Inga 3 project is the first of seven phases of a proposed $80-billion hydropower complex that would…
The African Development Bank (AfDB) renewed its support for climate change resilience in Madagascar, Benin and Angola in accessing US$17,8 million of adaptation finance in the form of grants from the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) during the second quarter of 2013. This follows the approval last March of US$18,6 million for three water and sanitation projects. •    Madagascar will receive US$6,2 million to promote climate change adaptation by ensuring that agricultural water infrastructure planned with African Development Fund (ADF) support is modified to be resilient in the face of climate change, that the vulnerability of the agriculture catchment to…
The United Nations (UN) Global Network South Africa has established a platform for chief executive officers (CEOs) and business leaders who are signatories to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). The structure will support, make strategic decisions and provide collective leadership to the ongoing implementation of sustainability in South Africa. The first roundtable, which was recently held in Johannesburg, resolved that CEOs would have to show leadership in sustainability issues, as they are important to business and society as a whole. The UNGC is a global strategic and policy platform for businesses that are interested in aligning their operations and…
The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) has granted Eskom a licence for its Sere wind farm in the Western Cape. The licence would allow Eskom to start construction of the R2,4-billion project, which is expected to deliver its first power to the national grid in the first half of 2014, with full commercial operation by the end of 2014. The project was funded by a group of development finance institutions, including the World Bank, the African Development Bank, Clean Technology Fund and Agence Francaise de Developement. The project will include the construction of a new substation and a…
A study shows that more than 97% of scientists believe humans are the main drivers of climate change. An extensive analysis of the abstracts or summaries of scientific papers published over the past 20 years shows that even though public perception tends to be that climate scientists disagree over the fundamental cause of climate change, they all agree that humans are to blame. To help put a stop to the squabbling, two dozen scientists and citizen-scientists from three continents analysed the abstracts of nearly 12 000 peer-reviewed scientific papers on climate change published between 1991 and 2011. They also surveyed the…
The City of Cape Town has called for comment on its Water Services Development, Integrated Waste Management and Electricity Service Business Plans, to help the City improve on its service delivery. The plans show the ways in which the City intends to achieve its objectives with respect to these essential services over five years. The Water Services Development, Integrated Waste Management and Electricity Services Plans entail strategies for implementing the municipality’s delivery of basic services and infrastructure in a sustainable manner. They are products of the Integrated Development Plan process. Some of the key strategic objectives listed in the Water Services…
National Treasury recently released a carbon tax policy paper for South Africa, which is expected to be implemented on 1 January 2015. The public has been invited to provide comment on the paper before 2 August 2013. The policy paper proposes a carbon tax rate of R120 per tonne of CO₂ equivalent. This carbon tax rate is proposed to increase at a rate of 10% per annum. National Treasury expects that the effective carbon tax range will be between R12 and R48 depending on the sector concerned. The policy paper proposed a basic tax free-threshold of 60% for all industrial…
The South African Solar Thermal Technology Platform (SA-STTP) was launched on 17 May 2013 in Pretoria. The launch event was attended by over 80 stakeholders in the solar thermal sector. Forming part of the three-year SOLTRAIN2 programme, sponsored by the Austrian Development Agency, the main purpose of SA-STTP is to develop a national solar thermal roadmap and implementation plan to promote the growth of solar thermal technology in South Africa. A number of organisations presented their views of a potential vision of SA-STTP and the role that various sectors would need to play in achieving the vision. Participants debated and…
A doctorate study undertaken by Yuda Benjamin, a student at Stellenbosch University’s Department of Process Engineering, has found that the fibres of some sugarcane cultivars could potentially boost ethanol production at a lower cost. In the study, Characterisation of bagasse from sugarcane cultivars for bio-ethanol production, Benjamin states that bio-ethanol – which is traditionally produced from high-cost sugars – is one of the most attractive alternative fuel sources. “Sugarcane crops represent a preferred crop for bio-ethanol production due to high biomass yields, high water utilisation efficiency and high fermentable sugar content,” he notes in his study. “However, sugarcane cultivars currently…
A bladeless wind turbine is set to change the face of wind energy production. This new innovative take on wind power uses the movement of electrically-charged water droplets to generate power. The technology was developed by Delft University of Technology researchers, Johan Smit and Dhiradi Djairam. A scale model of the Electrostatic Wind Energy Converter (Ewicon) has been developed by Mecanoo Architects and is located in front of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science at Delft University of Technology.How it worksWhile most wind turbines generate electricity by converting kinetic energy into mechanical energy of the blades rotating,…
In their 2011 report (released in 2012) the NBI raised the question of whether companies are sufficiently aware of the multiple issues surrounding water with particular reference to water scarcity, projections of the impacts on water availability due to climate change, energy requirements and rapid urbanisation. This annual water disclosure report also begged the question of whether companies are able to assess the value of water to their business. Some companies proved to be strong leaders in managing water, but the overall findings of the report and general company awareness were worrying. On 29 April 2013 the NBI discussed the…
Self-confessed adventure junkie and Cape Town resident, Ray D. Chaplin (32 years) will be attempting a feat no one thought possible when he sets off on Easter Sunday to complete the second longest riverboarding expedition of all time. Chaplin, a computer network engineer by profession, will be riverboarding the entire length (2 300 kms) of the Orange River, South Africa’s longest river, from source to sea in an attempt to raise awareness of South Africa’s water quality and the threat of water pollution. “I hope to have completed my mission within 5 months and reach Alexander Bay by early August,”…
The 2nd Eastern Cape Energy Efficiency Conference took place at the fascinating Nelson Mandela Bay Science and Technology Centre on Thursday, 16 May 2013. This sold out event, hosted by The Southern African Association for Energy Efficiency, attracted delegates from all industry segments from around the country. Themed ‘Think Global, Act Local’, the wide range of speakers addressed the South African energy crisis during the event, calling for a collective effort to keep the lights on and take the lead with energy efficient policies and technologies. Dr John Ryan, Founder and Director of Certification Europe, shared the European story and…
Scaling-up investments in sustainable cities through investing in sustainable infrastructure and resource efficient technologies, offers a golden opportunity to deliver economic growth with lower rates of environmental degradation, reductions in poverty, cuts in greenhouse gases, and improved well-being. This is according to a new report released by the United Nations titled ‘City-Level Decoupling: Urban Resource Flows and the Governance of Infrastructure Transitions‘.Cities, which are home to the majority of the world’s population, consume the majority of the world’s natural resources. Cities are expected to grow and by 2050 and it’s expected that 70 percent of the global population will reside…
Eddie Opara has designed a how-to manual for New York City's innovative and sustainable geothermal heat pump system.Humanising an intricate technology for the user, Eddie Opara has designed a how-to manual for the innovative energy-saving geothermal heat pumps system (GHP). GHP is a central heating and/or cooling system that pumps energy to or from the ground, using the earth as a heat source or a "heat sink".The manual provides guidelines on how the system can be integrated into sustainable building projects as well as how to implement it into existing structures. Further, the manual organises and outlines complicated information into…
Energy security and rising energy prices have become serious problems in southern Africa, as resources and new innovative solutions are becoming fewer and further between. These problems however, can be sufficiently addressed and even overcome by the implementation of solar water heating technologies and other sustainable energies. Southern Africa generates about 70% of its electricity from coal based power plants, which makes the region more vulnerable to the rising prices of energy and associated environmental effects. SOLTRAIN is a project that is funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and is implemented by the AEE-Institute for Sustainable Technologies (INTEC) from…
There are a number of challenges that are currently experienced in the subsidised sanitation sector in South Africa. These challenges are generally exacerbated by the fact that efforts are currently uncoordinated between departments and between the various levels of government. An ongoing study by the Water Research Commission’s (WRC) has found that there seems to be a lack of clarity as to how the household sanitation subsidy processes and procedures integrate or conflict with the National Housing Programme subsidy processes. To address this challenge the WRC commissioned a study to investigate the effective and efficient use of sanitation subsidies in…
To supply 46 wind turbines to power utility Eskom's 100 megawatt Sere wind farm.Siemen's South African unit has won the contract to supply 46 wind turbines to power utility Eskom's 100 megawatt Sere wind farm, the German company said on Thursday. Situated about 160 kilometres (100 miles) north of Cape Town, Sere is a flagship project for Eskom as it weans itself from an over-reliance on coal to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. Installation of the wind turbines, each reaching a height of 115 metres, is scheduled to begin in the second half of 2013 and start…
The U.S locomotive company, Amtrak, rolled out three new locomotives as the first step in the railroad’s plan to modernise its aging fleet of trains. The three are the first of 70 new locomotives the railroad is buying to operate on the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston. The trains also will operate on Amtrak’s Keystone route between Philadelphia and Harrisburg.Source: New York Times
While sea ice in the Arctic is vanishing fast, the extent of Antarctic ice has increased. Counter-intuitively, it seems global warming may be cooling southern surface waters.Nobody predicted that the fate of ice at each pole would take such different paths in just 30 years, with Arctic sea ice dropping more than 15%, even as Antarctic ice has risen by more than 5%. In the south, ocean water below a depth of 100 metres has been getting warmer, in line with rising ocean temperatures worldwide, but surface waters and the air above have become cooler.The reason, say Richard Bintanja and…
South African born Lyndon Rive has the United States (U.S.) at his feet. Thanks to an innovative leasing program, among other sales enticements his company has become the largest residential solar installer in the country. SolarCity, which is based in Foster City, California, has installed more than 8,000 solar systems since 2006. It tripled in size this year, and Rive, its CEO and cofounder, expects it to double next year. To reduce the high up-front costs for customers, Rive will lease homeowners the panels at a rate based on the size of their system. As the panels produce power, surplus…
Ray Chaplin is a self-confessed adventure junkie. On the weekend of 5 April, he set off to complete the second largest riverboarding expedition of all time. A 2 300km source-to-sea expedition, the aim was to follow the length of the Orange River by riverboard. The Plastics SA Nampak Rigid Plastics Orange River project will take six months from start to finish. Riverboarding is an in-the-water discipline where the athlete lies on a buoyant board to travel down a river. This isn’t an ordinary boogie-board, like those used in swimming training or at the beach. Chaplin’s specialised river craft is moulded…
The Russian state-owned nuclear group Rosatom is one of many companies that have recently expressed interest in bidding for South Africa’s planned new nuclear power plants (NPPs). Under the Integrated Resource Plan 2010–2030, the government intends to increase the country’s amount of nuclear-generated electricity to 9,6GW by 2030. Currently South Africa operates a single, two-reactor NPP from France. This reactor is located at Koeberg, near Cape Town, has been in operation since 1984 and has a capacity of 1,8GW.The construction of further NPPs will be, in part, to help meet South Africa’s growing electricity needs and to reduce the country’s…
The chairperson of PetroSA, Dr Benny Mokaba, has vacated his post as chairperson of PetroSA.According to Dr Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele, chairperson of the Central Energy Fund (CEF), Dr Mokaba’s departure is effective immediately.Dr Mokaba told Eye Witness News he believed it was prudent to resign while claims of misspending were being investigated. The move follows the conclusion of an investigation which was ordered by the minister of energy, Dipuo Peters, to investigate the robustness of the procurement system at the national oil company PetroSA.The investigation was part of an initiative by Peters to ensure adherence to good corporate governance principles and…
A South African power generation firm, Independent Power South Africa (IPSA), has secured an increase in its short-term loan to ensure it has sufficient working capital and funds for the maintenance of its two remaining turbines.On Friday, 26 April, the group said it is now allowed a drawdown of up to R6,7 million, pushing the total loan from Bluestone Securities from an initial R38 million to almost R44 million.The group obtained the loan in March to repay their loan from Standard Bank, originally due for payment in September 2009.IPSA had not yet secured a buyer for its remaining two Siemens…
Engineers have conceived of an offshore wind turbine anchored by hollow concrete spheres that could also turn seawater into electricity. The turbine would allow offshore wind farm managers to store excess energy for a time when there’s no wind. The design would use massive concrete orbs to anchor floating wind turbines to the ocean floor. When it’s particularly windy and the turbines produce more power than needed, some of the energy could be diverted to a pump that would remove the water from the hollow sphere. When power produced by the turbines is insufficient, water would be allowed to flow…
The 2013 World Energy Congress Organising Committee has announced the topics to be addressed at one of the world’s largest energy events, to be held in Daegu, South Korea, on 13-17 October 2013.Under the theme “Securing tomorrow’s energy today”, the leaders in the energy industry will be discussing several topics.Topics include: • Oil: Will state oil companies and independents come to dominate the industry? • Gas: Will shale gas be a game changer in redrawing the global energy map or is it just a bubble? • Coal: Can demand for coal overcome environmental concerns? • Renewables: Is the honeymoon over?…
South Africa’s electricity utility, Eskom, has approved a new generation strategy, premised on an “80:10:10 principle”, which implies average plant availability of 80%, with unplanned outages limited to 10% and scheduled maintenance also set at 10%.This means that Eskom will undertake “long-duration planned maintenance” during the coldest winter months.Divisional executive Kannan Lakmeeharan highlighted the fact that the 10% planned maintenance level would be spread over a full operating year. In other words, there would be trough maintenance periods of around 2 000MW in the winter, and peak periods of around 8 000MW during the summer months of November and December.Eskom’s…
The world is seeing a growing movement to make nuclear power safer and more efficient, by replacing today’s uranium fuel with thorium.Many thorium pragmatists advocate another step that would get thorium onto the power scene sooner by putting it into existing reactors.Ben Lindley, a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge, has discovered another potential advantage. Reactor operators could burn a thorium fuel that is mixed with plutonium and thus would provide a useful way to eliminate troubling nuclear waste.Fabricators can already mix uranium with plutonium into a fuel called “MOX” (mixed oxide).According to Lindley, a thorium-plutonium mix could power…
Solar-powered health services for Africa may sound improbable, but is not. The idea is a reality, courtesy of Samsung’s Solar-Powered Health Centre.The 7m-long truck contains ear, dental and eye clinics, and a mini laboratory where blood analyses can be done. Tests for HIV, malaria, diabetes, high blood pressure and other conditions are available, with results produced immediately. A prescription can be printed and given to the patient on the spot, who then needs to collect the medication from the nearest government clinic or hospital.There will be two medical professionals in the eye and blood clinics, a dentist and dental assistant…
South African government leaders and captains of industry have praised the BRICS Fifth Summit, which took place on 26-27 March in Durban, as a success.Firstly it succeeded because it ran and concluded on schedule. It is easy for international events to collapse or drag on for longer than planned. But the BRICS Summit did not. Secondly, establishing the BRICS Bank was the single most important topic in the minds of the major decision-makers. The bank is a talking point, not only among the BRICS nations. Having it based in South Africa will be a feather in the cap for this…
South Africa and Lesotho have resolved to work towards increasing economic activities, which will lead to the creation of sustainable jobs that are of mutual benefit to the two countries with intricately linked economies.The two countries have agreed to work towards the full implementation of the agreement on free movement of people, goods and services between the common borders, which will in turn boost trade.This emerged following a meeting between the minister of international relations and cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, and her Lesotho counterpart, Mohlabi Kenneth Tsekoa. The two met in Tshwane for the Joint Bilateral Commission for Cooperation (JBCC).Nkoana-Mashabane, who…
The European Union (EU) recently launched SUPRAPOWER, a four-year project led by Tecnalia in Spain that includes nine other industry and science partners across Europe. The initiative aims to develop a next-generation wind turbine that could cut manufacturing costs by 30%.The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology‘s Cryogenic Engineering Division is focusing on reducing the size of wind turbines using superconductors. Superconductors are able to conduct electricity without a loss below a certain temperature that causes it to have no electrical resistance.The researchers are developing a rotating cryostat that will cool superconducting coils to ensure the highest efficiency of the coils and…
The efficiency of LED lamps currently on the market ranges from 45 lumens per watt to 90 lumens per watt. This Philips lamp, a TLED prototype, blows those numbers out of the water. The T here means tube, by the way. This TLED emits warm white light (as incandescent light bulbs do). I know that many people have become accustomed to the cool white that most fluorescent bulbs produce, but if you still want that warm, flattering, incandescent glow, you can still get it.An efficiency of 200 lumens per watt means that a 4 watt version of this lamp could…
Eskom has today provided an update on the outlook for the power system as we go into winter 2013, urging all South Africans to partner to keep the lights on in a challenging year.In previous years Eskom has generally reduced planned maintenance to the minimum during the winter months, so as to ensure it has maximum capacity available to meet higher demand for electricity.However, higher levels of planned maintenance are urgently required in order to ensure that our ageing fleet of power stations can perform more reliably, on a sustained basis. This means that the power system will be very…
Leading wooden window and door manufacturer, Swartland, offers an overview on the newly introduced National Building Regulations relating to energy effciency. “South Africa is currenlty experiencing an energy crisis with an ever increasing demand on power sources. Energy usage, and energy efficiency in buildings in particular, is at the forefront of new government policies that have been implemented in response to this crisis,” explains Cobus Lourens, National Sales Manager for leading wooden windows and door smanufacturer, Swartland. By choosing products that boast a high energy efficiency rating, we can do a lot with regards to improving our nation’s green credentials…
41 African countries have joined the InitiativeDuring the first Advisory Board Meeting of the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Initiative, Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) (http://www.afdb.org), announced that the AfDB will host the SE4ALL Africa Hub in cooperation with its African partner institutions: the African Union Commission and the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency, and with the support of United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The Hub will be part of the global implementation structure of SE4All.The SE4ALL Initiative has three main goals to be reached by 2030: (1) to ensure universal access to modern energy services,…
Zero-Blade Wind Convertor (Tunisia) – Innovators Hassine Labaied and Anis Aouini from Saphon Energy, a Tunisian R&D start up, developed a wind turbine with no blades that does not rotate – it uses sailboat technology to create cost-effective energy through a back-and-forth 3D motion.Ten African innovators have developed practical solutions to some of the continent’s most intractable problems. Chosen from more than 900 applications from 45 countries, the finalists for the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) (http://www.innovationprizeforafrica.org) 2013 provide practical examples of Africa’s investment potential. The winners of the IPA 2013 will be announced at a gala dinner on 7…
The global clean energy sector is undergoing geographic and technological shifts as new markets emerge and renewable capacity grows, according to research released by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The sector demonstrated resilience in 2012, registering a record 88 gigawatts, or GW, of additional generating capacity, even though investment levels declined 11%, to $269 billion, from 2011. Among the group of G-20 nations, South Africa was the fastest-growing market. The 11% decline in clean energy investments compared to 2011 levels was due in part to curtailed incentive programs in a number of countries, among them Spain, Italy, and Germany. Elsewhere, continuing…
In 2011, nearly 350 million people lived in Indian cities. More than 300 million new residents will join them over the next few decades to become part of the new urban India. This population boom will stress an already-pressured urban infrastructure system, especially with regard to transportation.Indian cities have become synonymous with congestion, noise, and air pollution. Each year, 135,000 people die in traffic crashes on Indian roads. Currently, India has 120 million vehicles, a number that is steadily growing. In 2010, outdoor air pollution contributed to more than 620,000 premature deaths. This trend is clearly not sustainable if India’s…
The many faces of climate change are multiplying every day. For many, climate change can often seem like a vague and complex problem far off in the distance that our grandchildren may have to solve. But that’s only because they’re still fortunate enough to be insulated from its mounting consequences. Climate change has very real effects on people, animals, and the ecosystems and natural resources on which we all depend. Left unchecked, they’ll spread like wildfire. Luckily, other faces of climate change are also multiplying every day.Every person who does his or her part to fix the problem is also…
Recently, an Oregon State University researcher, Russel Goff, has invented a way to use spent nuclear fuel to sterilise medical equipment and preserve food.The development would not only address the vexing question of what to do with nuclear waste. It would also open over R8 billion in economic opportunities.If the same math applied to all of the world’s reactors, then the revenue would exceed R32 billion globally.Private company G-Demption LLC has received a provisional patent and is attempting to commercialise the technology. Goff is harnessing reactors’ short lived radioactive elements known as “fission products” that emit gamma rays.Irradiation by gamma…
IBM in collaboration with the City of Tshwane, recently launched a crowdsourcing project to help capture, share and analyse information about the water distribution system in South Africa. The project will be driven by a new mobile phone application and SMS facility that will enable South African citizens to report water leaks, faulty water pipes and general conditions of water canals. Every update will provide vital data points to an aggregated “WaterWatchers” report to create a single view of the issues challenging South Africa’s water distribution system. “This project is a natural extension of the work we have done to…
In light of our lighting feature in the next issue of 25 Degrees, some technological advances on the LED-front: Philips has just unveiled the world’s most energy-efficient LED bulb. The TLED bulb, still in the prototype stage, is based on tube lighting technology and provides a warmer glow than conventional LEDs. Each bulb generates 200lm/W of high quality light—more than twice as much as the company’s current LED bulbs, and according to Philips the bulb is up to twice as efficient as its predecessors. The TLED prototype is the first lamp to reach 200lm/W without compromising light quality. Researchers at…
Samsung's Solar Powered Health Centre recently introduced a solar powered health services-initiative in Cape Town. The 7m long truck contains ear, dental, and eye clinics and a mini laboratory where blood analyses can be done. Tests for HIV, malaria, diabetes, high blood pressure and other conditions are available, with results produced immediately. A prescription can be printed and given to the patient on the spot, who then needs to collect the medication from the nearest government clinic or hospital.The clinic hits the road on 18 April, and will accommodate up to 300 patients every day. It is operated by three…
Vancouver, CanadaVancouver has an ambitious goal of becoming the “the greenest city in the world” by 2020. They already lead the world in hydroelectric power—making up 90 percent of its supply—as well as regularly tapping into various renewable energies.Oslo, NorwayBy 2030, Oslo aims to cut carbon emissions by 50%.The city’s heating system is currently powered by 80 percent renewable energy, mainly from biomass from residual waste. This annually saves the carbon emissions equivalent to 60,000 vehicles. Within the next decade, Oslo plans on expanding the system to reach 100 percent renewable sources for heating.Curitiba, BrazilBack in the early 1970s, the…
In recent years, Cape Town has positioned itself as a hub of innovation and technology through IT initiatives such as the Silicon Cape Foundation, the Bandwidth Barn business incubator, and partnerships with global technology giants such as Google.So promising is the city’s innovative inclination that it was named, for the second time, as one of the world’s up-and-coming innovators. It made the cut for 2ThinkNow’s 2010 list of places in developing nations which rank among the most progressive in the world.Cape Town ranked third on the emerging cities list, which is one of a set issued by Melbourne-based 2ThinkNow, an…
Mpumalanga cane growers may soon have a new green charcoal product in retail shops made from sugar cane biomass, the Business Day reported on Tuesday. "The problem is that this reservoir was untapped," Justin Murray, grower affairs manager for the Mpumalanga Cane Growers Association said."We are developing an innovative and scalable technology to increase growers' revenue and to generate some value from this biomass."Growers were eager to find alternative usage for sugar cane biomass because the sugar industry was in trouble, Murray said.The cane growing sector had not made an economic return in a decade and growers were exiting the…
Phytoplankton are microscopic organisms that float around the water surface, harnessing sunlight to make energy for themselves. Using chlorophyll, it produces oxygen while absorbing carbon dioxide.Recently, French architecture firm Sitbon Architectes designed a livable, phytoplankton farm to be installed in the Indian Ocean.The concept behind this large-scale project, called the Bloom, is to practice the culture of the phytoplankton to absorb CO2 excesses.A five-level, semi-submersible centre will be moored to the seafloor with a system of cables. The part that’s underwater offers housing for scientists and aquariums for phytoplankton.The structure will be made of aluminum and methacrylate (common in polymer…
Quick and easy ways of saving electricity NOW: 1. Reduce your electricity usage by switching off lights and plug points – basically anything that draws a current and isn’t in use2. Avoid using the hot water tap wherever possible – e.g. wash hands in cold water3. When showering, have the water off while washing your hair and soaping your body (same concept when brushing your teeth)4. Set your geyser thermostat down5. Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85% of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water6. Install a Geyser Controller, recommend the…
The fifth Brics summit saw a number of co-operation agreements signed between the attending heads of state in fields ranging from nuclear medicine and military technology to rail transport and the much-anticipated Brics bank. They included:• A multilateral agreement on green economy co-financing, which was signed by representatives of the Brics Inter-Bank Co-operation Mechanism, which includes Jabu Moleketi, the chairman of the Development Bank of Southern Africa;• A multilateral agreement on infrastructure co-financing for Africa, also signed by representatives of the Inter-Bank Co-operation Mechanism;• The launch of the Brics Business Council, which was signed by representatives of the newly formed…
A microgrid is a smaller power grid that can operate either by itself or connected to a larger utility grid. Microgrids can serve areas as small as a few houses, all the way up to large military installations.Backup generators supply power to local loads in the event of an outage, but there is usually a delay when you lose power and disconnect from the utility grid before the backup kicks in. In addition, a backup system is neither meant to run continuously, nor to put power into the grid. However, a microgrid can serve as a backup power supply.A microgrid…
Researchers at the University of Georgia have discovered a way to turn the carbon dioxide found in our atmosphere into industrial products – like fuel and chemicals. By creating a micro-organism that uses carbon dioxide like plants do – turning water and CO2 into sugars that are used for energy – researchers say that those sugars can be fermented and turned into ethanol. “What this discovery means is that we can remove plants as the middleman,” said Michael Adams, co-author of the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, and a professor at the University of…
Every day 120 000 metric tons of coal are transported to a Sasol plant at Secunda, near Johannesburg, where they are converted into 150 000 barrels of oil a day.Sasol’s main plant in Mpumalanga – the only commercial coal-to-liquid plant in the world – produces about 150 000 barrels of synthetic fuel a day and meets about 28% of South Africa’s annual fuel needs.Coal-to-liquid (CTL) technology makes economic sense only in a world of high oil prices. Until 2003, oil prices averaged R231 a barrel, making R417 a barrel liquid coal economically prohibitive. Today, however, oil prices hover at R648…
A newly-developed membrane used to separate waste from water could become key in the treatment of pollutants ranging from acid mine drainage to oil-containing wastewater, as well as in processes ranging from desalination to kidney dialysis. The research has been published in a prestigious international journal on Friday, 22 March, coinciding with World Water Day and falling within South Africa’s National Water Week.The technology – which was developed by a team of researchers from Wits University, in collaboration with NASA – will make it easier to filter pure water from waste produced during mining, oil and gas exploration and production,…
First Solar released its co-authored published paper, Lifecycle water usage in CdTe photovoltaics, which provides an overview of the lifecycle water footprint for thin-film photovoltaics (PV).The paper presents the energy-water nexus which is defined as the association between how much water is used to supply energy and how much energy is used to supply water. Energy production is one of the largest global uses of water, requiring as much water as agriculture in many countries.The energy-water nexus associated with traditional energy sources is viewed as a potential concern, especially in water-stressed regions and industries such as mining, which will suffer…
More electricity is being generated from intermittent sources of power, such as solar and wind energy. Powerful electric energy storage devices are necessary to level out corresponding irregularities in the power supply. Fraunhofer scientists have recently made an important breakthrough with their development of a redox flow battery that reaches stack power up to 25kW, with a cell size of 0,5 square metres. This is eight times larger than the previous A4-sized systems.Sun and wind are important sources of energy. Almost a quarter of the electricity we use today is derived from renewable sources. The German Federal Government has set…
Brent crude oil rose above R1 000 a barrel, recovering from a three-month low after the United States Federal Reserve signalled the continuation of its stimulus programmes. The Federal Reserve stated that it would take into account risks posed by its policies, but also how much progress it was making lowering unemployment. Cyprus was seeking a new loan from Russia to avert a financial meltdown, after the island’s parliament rejected the terms of a European Union bailout, raising the risk of default and a bank crash. “Clearly, market players anticipate that an alternative solution will be found for Cyprus,” said…
KiOR, the advanced biofuels company that makes fuel from pine wood chips, has made its first commercial shipment of cellulosic diesel, an unexpected breakthrough for the biofuels industry.Fred Cannon, president and chief executive officer of KiOR, said in a conference call with analysts that he expects the plant to eventually produce 3-5 million gallons of cellulosic diesel a year.The advanced biofuels industry has struggled to scale up commercially and dozens of companies have folded in the process. Western Biomass Energy, the company that made the first batch of cellulosic ethanol from a demonstration facility in Wyoming, filed for Chapter 11…
South Africans achieved a massive 629MW average reduction on their electricity usage during this year’s Earth Hour on Saturday, said Eskom.Eskom had also switched off non-essential lighting at all its offices around the country, except at strategic facilities for security reasons.Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, when 2,2-million people and more than 2 000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour to take a stand against climate change. Last year Eskom measured an estimated reduction of approximately 402MW during the hour-long campaign. This year’s figure shows that more South Africans are seeing the value of switching off…
BHP Billiton firmly believed the negotiated pricing agreements (NPAs) for electricity supply from Eskom to its Richards Bay and Mozal aluminium smelters were “legally binding”, it said on 18 March 2013. BHP Billiton was commenting on the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruling that the contractual arrangements with Eskom, relating to its aluminium smelter operations, had to be made public. While it stressed that it would accept the court ruling and would not be appealing, the mining giant said it was disappointed and feared the ruling would have a negative impact on the competitiveness and sustainability of its aluminium business…
Sasol attended the National Energy Regulator of South Africa’s (Nersa) public hearing regarding Sasol Gas’ pricing and tariff submissions on 22 March 2013. The Gas Act requires that Nersa approves maximum prices, which are intended to set a ceiling above which operators, such as Sasol Gas, cannot price. In line with the stipulated Nersa process, Sasol Gas made its submission to the regulator in December 2012. The Sasol Gas submission followed Nersa’s two-year consultation process. The public hearings were a further opportunity for industry representatives to address the subject of maximum pricing, which is the first step towards standardising prices,…
The 22nd World Energy Congress will be held in Daegu, Korea from October 13 to 17, 2013 and is the first major multi-energy gathering after the launch last year of the Sustainable Energy For All initiative by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.The world’s largest and most prestigious energy event will welcome 5,000 government and business leaders and other delegates from more than 100 countries. Some of the most influential figures in the global energy sector, from business leaders and government ministers to the leaders of international organisations, will address the Congress theme of “Securing Tomorrow’s Energy Today”, providing delegates, sponsors and…
A pay-as-you-go solar start-up in Kenya is providing a cheap and pollution-free replacement for the common kerosene-fuelled lamps usually used in the country.M-Kopa Solar, a mobile technology group, is providing credit to low-income earners in Kenya to buy the power system, the d.light solar home system, which otherwise is too expensive for them. Using embedded sim cards enabled by the East African telecommunications company Safaricom, M-Kopa enables the use of the d.light solar home system in rural areas.The company was established in 2011, but began offering the product commercially in June 2012. Since then it has sold 1 000 units.…
Ford reduced the average amount of water used to make each vehicle by 8.5% between 2011 and 2012 – putting the company more than halfway toward its current goal of using an average of just 4m3 per vehicle by 2015. Ford’s water reduction success is a result of the company’s commitment to reduce the amount of water it uses by aggressively monitoring and managing just about every drop of water going into and out of its facilities and properties, says Andy Hobbs, director of Ford’s environmental quality office. Ford voluntarily launched its Global Water Management Initiative in 2000, putting in…
A newly developed membrane used to separate waste from water could become key in the treatment of pollutants ranging from acid mine drainage to oil-containing wastewater, as well as in processes ranging from desalination to kidney dialysis. The research has been published in a prestigious international journal today, Friday, 22 March, coinciding with World Water Day and falling within South Africa’s National Water Week.The technology – which was developed by a team of researchers from Wits University, in collaboration with NASA – will make it easier to filter pure water from waste produced during mining, oil and gas exploration and…
KiOR, the advanced biofuels company that makes fuel from pine wood chips, has made its first commercial shipment of cellulosic diesel.Fred Cannon, president and CEO of KiOR, said in a conference call with analysts he expects the plant to eventually produce 3 million to 5 million gallons of cellulosic diesel a year. The company’s journey from concept to actual commercial-scale production has been a long one. As Gigaom notes, numerous web start-ups could launch, scale and exit in the time it has taken Kior to scale up production. The advanced biofuels industry has struggled to scale up commercially and dozens…
Internationally, there is a dire need to manage water quality efficiently. South Africa is no exception. Undeniably, water analysis can help to curtail the knock-on effects of water pollution and microbial water-bound contaminants like cholera.
South Africa’s mining industry faces many challenges, especially relating to mining rehabilitation, which significantly affects communities and the economy long after the doors have closed.
In line with international trends, the voluntary implementation of appliance labelling was introduced in South Africa a while ago to make end-users more aware of their energy consumption.
According to researchers at the University of California, solutions to battery energy storage and recharging are right under our noses.Assistant Professor David Kisailus, who has been studying a marine snail found off the U.S. coast called the chiton, has found that the snail’s teeth could improve our battery technology. The teeth contain the hardest-known biomineral magnetite.Biominerals grow alongside organic matter in the snail’s magnetic mouth, and convert to magnetite. However, what makes the process interesting to the researcher is that this system can take place at room temperature. By reducing the heat necessary to form nanocrystals, you reduce the energy…
Cheaper water test to improve lives A home kit to test the microbial quality of tap water has been invented in a laboratory at Rhodes University, in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape. The kit, which was modified by doctoral student Catherine Luyt, will make water testing possible in rural and remote areas where there are no certified laboratories.The home kit is made up in a small container and consists of basic school science laboratory chemicals and everyday household items such as dishwashing liquid, tinfoil and chemicals including phosphates, sulphates and amino acids. The project was originally started by Dr Roman Tandlich, a…
FIRST ONLINE INFORMATION PORTAL FOR SA WIND POWER LAUNCHEDSouth Africa’s first online resource for wind power, Powered by Wind, has been launched by the South African Department of Energy in partnership with the Embassy of Denmark in South Africa.Powered by Wind (www.poweredbywind.co.za) is a backbone of the South African Wind Energy Awareness Campaign which provides an easily accessible online information portal for all the South African target groups including: Government; Business; Local Communities; Primary School Children - particularly Grades 5-7; and NGOs. It features dedicated General, Learner and Educator sub-portals, each with its own tailored information.Speaking of the importance of…
The City of Windhoek, together with NamWater, cautioned water users in central Namibia, and Windhoek in particular, to start using water sparingly as the wells supplying water to these areas are running dry because of a lack of rain this year. Ferdi Brinkman, the chief engineer in the department of infrastructure, water and waste management at the City of Windhoek, said if no inflow is received by the end of next year, the country could run dry by August next year.The City of Windhoek has imposed water restrictions including a ban on the use of hosepipes to wash cars, the…
The trend in wind turbines has recently been moving towards larger diameter, more powerful machines designed to reduce the cost of generated power. Other changes have also been made to increase efficiency and reduce manufacturing and maintenance costs.The possibility of switching to direct-drive, no-gearbox turbines, simplifies generation equipment tremendously. Aside from reducing costs to compete with conventional generation, cost reduction is also underway to be able to compete without subsidy. However, to implement this change, dramatic technological change might be needed.One effort to replace the plastic composite rotor blades with fabric-on-frame ones is currently being researched. GE, which is spearheading…
The veined wing of the clanger cicada kills bacteria solely through its physical structure — one of the first natural surfaces found to do so. An international team of biophysicists has now come up with a detailed model of how this defence works on the nanoscale. The results are published in the latest issue of the Biophysical Journal1. The clanger cicada (Psaltoda claripennis) is a locust-like insect whose wings are covered by a vast hexagonal array of 'nanopillars' — blunted spikes on a similar size scale to bacteria (see video, bottom). When a bacterium settles on the wing surface, its…
Abengoa (MCE: ABG.B), the international company that applies innovative technology solutions for sustainable development in the energy and environment sectors, has been chosen by Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) to carry out a new electricity transmission project in the Mexican state of Sonora.The “SLT 1112 Transmission and Transformation of the North West” project,worth approximately R 489 million, includes the construction of two substationsand a 400 kW transmission line covering 201 km in the state of Sonora. Abengoawill be responsible for the engineering and construction of the line as well asputting it into service, which includes the two associated substations, ensuring…
The president of Ghana announced the country’s Hope City project earlier this week. The project involves a long-term plan to turn currently unused wasteland outside the country’s capital into a technologically-advanced metropolis that will lure in big businesses and manufacturing plants. “Government has led growth since independence with all the major investments,” President John Mahama said during the launch.The time has come for the private sector to take over.” Already onboard is a local technology company, RLG Communications, which plans to take part in the first construction projects for the future city. “Today Ghana sits in the middle of the…
Rooftop solar installations have skyrocketed in recent years thanks largely to government incentives and falling prices. Rex Parris, the mayor of Lancaster, California, is taking the government’s role to a new level in a bid to make his city “the solar energy capital of the world.”Parris announced during an event last week to celebrate KB Home and SunPower’s 1,000th solar installation that Lancaster will establish a law requiring solar be installed on every new single-family home built after January 1, 2014, reported Greentech Media. The law will be added during an update to the city’s residential zones municipal code. According…
The future of mobile usage looks toward technology that will allow us to use and charge your phone anywhere in the world. Kicking off this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) on the 25th- 28th February, was a mega-conference at Barcelona’s FIRA exhibition centre that had a forum on Energy and Mobile for Development. Representatives spoke about using solar energy to jump-start electricity and local economies in India and Africa. The sponsors of MWC and representatives of the world’s nearly 800 mobile operators, GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications Association) estimated that, in 2012, more than 500 million mobile connections were…
The 100year old Umzonyana water treatment works (UWTW) is to be refurbished in a R50-million upgrade project which will increase its treatment capacity by 30Ml/day - from 120 – 150Ml/day, say Royal HaskoningDHV (formerly SSI), the consultants appointed for the project by the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality.“The existing Umzonyana WTW was built in the early 1900’s as the main water supply to the Borough of East London and the treatment works has been progressively enlarged from the initial small, slow sand filtration plant to the existing sophisticated treatment works with a present output of purified water of some 120Ml/day” explained…
The exploration of natural gas in South Africa has the potential to yield fruitful results in the coming years, says professional services firm PwC. “The market can expect some deals and transactions in the pipeline with the current developments taking place onshore and in neighbouring Mozambique,” says Chris Bredenhann, PwC Energy Leader for Southern Africa. “There are also strong indications of a desire to increase the level of natural gas in South Africa’s energy mix from the Government in the wake of recent initiatives.” Recent energy supply disruptions have highlighted the need for integrated energy planning in South Africa. “The…
JOHANNESBURG – January 29, 2013 – Schneider Electric has announced the local availability of In-Diya, a highly energy-efficient LED based lighting system, to provide lighting to people living with no or unreliable electricity. In-Diya is a specially designed LED based lighting system that provides backup ranging from eight to 15 hours for indoor applications. The In-Diya LED based lighting system is available in nine different variants. An external chargeable battery powers the 45 LED basic model, while the high-end variant is a 90 LED solar home lighting system that is compatible with an electrical grid. “In-Diya earmarks a new phase…
Blair Walter, Renewable Energy Leader for Aurecon speaks wind farm developments and getting energy prediction right. The wind is a natural system and therefore non-linear in its short term behaviour, which makes it difficult to model and predict. Good commercial decisions require robust predictions Making good commercial decisions at each stage of wind farm development requires robust predictions of the site’s future energy yield. But at early stages when project feasibility is unconfirmed, developers are often reluctant to spend large sums of money assessing the wind resource. Even at financial close on some projects there still does not appear to…
Smart Metering (SM) systems can support various aspects of electricity distribution management and are generally recommended internationally as the way to enhance the services and financial viability of electricity utilities. Kobus van den Berg, an Electrical Engineer at Aurecon, takes a different approach, saying it is important to understand the additional functionality of a SM system and see if it meets the specific requirements of Africa. “The extensive functionality of a Smart Metering system is not always fully appreciated,” he says. “However, collecting vast amounts of system data is in itself pointless: the value is in the management of the…
The tiny territory of Tokelau is the first country in the world to operate on renewable energy. On March 2, the island led a call by 14 Pacific island nations for the world to take action to stop climate change. The campaign kicked off with the Warrior Day of Action featuring demonstrations and protests that invoked traditional war songs and dances. Activists in Fiji, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tokelau, Niue, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Palau, Nauru, Tuvalu and Kiribati participated in events. It specifically targeted fossil fuel use, which is the biggest source…
Bombardier Transportation, the rail arm of the Canadian aerospace and transportation company, have announced that it will be testing its Primove wireless electric bus charging technology over the next year in Mannheim, Germany.Bombardier will install the charging technology along one of the city’s bus routes. The charger is buried underneath the road at various bus stops. When one of the two trial e-buses, equipped with Bombardier’s Mitrac e-bus powertrain, completely covers the charger the bus begins charging, wirelessly, using inductive energy transfer, as passengers exit and board the bus.Besides the obvious benefit of not adding pollution to the urban environment,…
The introduction of a carbon tax in 2015, as announced in the 2013 national Budget on February 27, may not be sufficient to address climate change, said Greenpeace Africa."While the proposed carbon tax should ensure that the true cost of carbon intensive industries are included in their costs, its application in 2015 might be too little, too late," spokesman Mbong Tsafack said in a statement.Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said earlier that a carbon tax of R120 per tonne of carbon dioxide-equivalent would be implemented from January 1, 2015.However, a tax-free exemption threshold of 60 percent would be set to "soften…
The Renewable Energy and Energy-Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) has announced that it will fund 28 new projects that aim to scale up renewable energy and energy-efficient solutions in key emerging markets and in selected developing countries in Africa and Asia.The initiatives were selected from 98 final proposals in five thematic areas: scaling up successful business models, supporting off-grid generation, harnessing the benefits of clean energy in both food production and in reliable water supply, and opening up energy data in emerging markets.The government of Norway, which has been a strong supporter of REEEP since 2006, is supporting or co-funding 15 of…
The South African government views the use of nuclear power as a favourable alternative for meeting its energy demands, after cabinet recently endorsed Eskom as the owner and operator of any new nuclear energy plants in South Africa. A National Nuclear Energy Executive Co-ordination Committee (NNEECC), chaired by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, has been set up to oversee future nuclear build programmes. The 2013 Nuclear Forum, which took place on 21 February at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, ran alongside Africa’s foremost energy event, the Africa Energy Indaba. The forum was sponsored by Areva and aimed to debunk some…
In 2012 wind farms added 44,7 gigawatts (GW) of electricity production worldwide. Additionally, annual market growth was up with 10%, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.There is now 282,5 GW of wind capacity worldwide. The European Union (EU) represents 37,5% of that total, followed by China and the United States. In sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia installed its first commercial wind farm, a 52 MW project, and researchers expect Africa to be a noteworthy competitor in clean energy, as this has become a priority for economic development on the continent. According to calculations, there were approximately 22 350 wind turbines installed…
A new online resource allows businesses, the media and governments to look for and explore global energy information.The online resource, in the new website of the World Energy Council (WEC), was launched at the Africa Energy Indaba in South Africa, which took place on 19-21 February. The website provides open access to the WEC’s energy knowledge repository from the organisation’s 90-year history. Christoph Frei, secretary-general of the World Energy Council, said at the website’s launch: “Making the World Energy Council’s reference material openly available is part of our commitment to the common good. We have been producing respected reports and…
Reykjavik’s Carbon Recycling International (CRI) will provide methanol that the Dutch oil company Argos will add into gasoline, according to an announcement by CRI on its website. Methanol-gasoline blends are known to enhance mileage.CRI is producing this methanol from the carbon dioxide emitted from Iceland’s HS Orka, one of many geothermal plants in the North Atlantic island nation.CRI refers to its product as “renewable methanol”, as it captures CO2 that would otherwise escape to the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. CRI calls the product Vulcanol. Even though Icelandic geothermal emits some CO2, the amount is tiny compared to fossil…
Charles Chase describes how Lockheed Martin’s fusion device trumps huge government fusion projects in this photograph by venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson from a Google “Solve for X” event last week.Steve Jurvestson, managing director at Silicon Valley VC Draper Fisher Jurveston (DFJ), has posted photographs and information on Flickr of a presentation by Lockheed senior programme manager Charles Chase of a small fusion machine that will be fashioned into a prototype by 2017. Chase made the presentation last week at a Google “Solve for X” gathering. “Solve for X” encourages solutions to pressing problems.The post did not confirm whether DFJ or…
Eskom is planning to invest up to R149-billion over the coming ten years on transmission projects. Their key aim is to improve the reliability of networks and integrate new-generation capacity into the current power grid. The investment forecast is outlined in the latest Transmission Ten-Year Development Plan: 2013-2022.According to Eskom’s general manager for transmission and grid planning, Mbubelo Kibedo, the investment aims to ensure that the network complies with the minimum reliability criteria, connect new demand centres and integrate new Eskom and independent power producer (IPP) generating capacity.A total of R121-billion has been set aside for projects. A further R25-billion…
The threat posed by Eskom’s tariff application to jobs dominated the National Energy Regulator’s (Nersa) public hearings on 30-31 January. The hearings were dominated by protesters from Cosatu and large companies, who raised the concern that high electricity prices are a threat to their jobs, and their struggle to survive under the weight of administered costs such as fuel, water and electricity. The chief financial director of Mylaw, Kim van Rensburg, said: “We feel the pressure of your normal inflationary creep – one of our biggest costs is distribution, which is going to be compounded by the increased petrol price…
South Africa’s Energy Minister, Dipuo Peters, said in an introductory speech at the Africa Energy Indaba on 19 February that the country intends to introduce nuclear power in an attempt to lower carbon emissions.Peters said: “If we are serious about diversification towards a low-carbon economy, we cannot belittle the role that natural gas and nuclear power can play in the realisation of the 2030 low-carbon energy vision.” Following the Fukushima nuclear accident, South Africa, through the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR), needed to find assurance in terms of safety of existing installations, and safety re-assessments of the Safari 1 research reactor…
Sasol Gas is South Africa’s biggest wholesale and retail supplier of gas. According to a press report, new standard prices will see some customers paying more for gas, but most would pay less from next year.The Manufacturing Circle said Sasol’s application for price increases to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) could mean that certain industrial users could see their gas costs rocket by 30%-40%. The organisation is also pressuring Nersa to reject Eskom’s application for a 16% rise in electricity prices over the next five years.Manufacturing Circle executive director, Coenraad Bezuidenhout, said Nersa replied that it could…
As the world battles to find ways to avoid the threat of climate change, South Africa says it will also show how vehicles powered by renewable energy could contribute to cutting carbon emissions.In what officials have described as a ground breaking pioneering initiative for the South African automobile market, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa on Tuesday introduced the department’s zero emission electric vehicles, also referred to as the green cars.The move is part of government’s efforts to ensure that South Africa practically contributes to the reduction of environmentally harmful gases, by promoting the use of cleaner sources of fuel by…
A team of researchers at Ohio State University (OSU) have recently found great success in their research scale combustion system that aims to find a clean way of harnessing the power of coal. The team is now able to harness clean coal energy chemically without combustion with air, while capturing 99% of the carbon dioxide produced from the reaction. With the next stage in testing on the horizon, could this possibly be the future of coal?OSU researchers found a way to harness the energy from coal through what they call Coal-Direct Chemical Looping (CDCL).CDCL mixes tiny iron oxide beads to…
At a recent event hosted by the National Business Initiative (NBI), former CEO of Alstom, Phillipe Joubert, noted that harmful fuels will not be disappearing anytime soon. This opinion was based on the fact that, even with the wide and increasing variety of cleaner technologies available, there are still coal plants all over the world that are being built. The United States’ (U.S) use of nuclear power for electricity has been in decline in recent years, part of the reason being that the U.S’ nuclear reactors are ageing and need frequent repairs. But a growing concern has been the competition…
Two of the goals as set out in the National Development Plan (NDP) are (1) the transformation of urban and rural spaces in South Africa and (2) investment into a strong network of economic infrastructure designed to support medium to long-term objectives.One of the main points alluded to by President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation address on 14 February 2013 is the government’s focus on improving infrastructure. He also emphasised the need for a national integrated urban development framework to assist municipalities to effectively manage rapid urbanisation.At a media briefing at KPMG Wanooka Place on 21 February…
Liquid catalysts like those used in detergents can possibly convert hydrogen into electricity for vehicles.ACAL Energy, a British company, claimed to have developed its FlowCath catalyst with backing from “a leading car manufacturer” that it declined to identify.Hydrogen fuel cells typically produce electricity by catalyzing oxygen and hydrogen. The conventional process relies on platinum, a rare and expensive metal. FlowCath gets rid of 80 percent of the platinum by using a liquid chemical catalyst inspired by detergent - an idea applied by co-founder Andy Creeth, who is a former chief scientist at soap seller Unilever.The technology strips out 25 percent…
Sasol Gas is South Africa’s biggest wholesale and retail supplier of gas. It says that new standard prices will see some customers paying more for gas, but most would pay less from next year. According to the Manufacturing Circle, Sasol’s application to Nersa could mean that certain industrial users could see their gas costs rocket by 30%-40%. The Gas Act of 2001 empowers Nersa to monitor and approve the transmission and storage tariffs for piped gas. Included in the act is a special regulatory dispensation for Sasol Gas, formulated to enable its project to pipe gas from Mozambique to South…
Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) have developed a battery design that will accelerate charging and increase the capacity of batteries, potentially at low cost.Researchers have been trying to replace graphite electrodes in lithium-ion batteries with silicon for a long time, as silicon can store more energy and charge more quickly. Unfortunately, silicon is also relatively fragile, so eventually it will break as it absorbs the lithium ions and swells up. The USC researchers have been looking at silicon nanowires, which can handle swelling but are difficult and more expensive to produce. Recently however, they have tried to…
To make fuel cells more economical, engineers want a fast and efficient iron-based molecule that splits hydrogen gas to make electricity. Chemist R. Morris Bullock, who leads the research at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and his team at the Centre for Molecular Electrocatalysis, has been developing catalysts that use cheaper metals such as nickel and iron. Fuel cells generate electricity out of a chemical fuel, usually hydrogen. The bond within a hydrogen molecule stores electricity, where two electrons connect two hydrogen atoms like a barbell. Fuel cells use a platinum catalyst to crack a hydrogen molecule…
2013 is the year for implementing the SA governemnt's Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme, as the possibility of new wind farms, solar-power plants and hydro plants look more promising than ever. Some of the key drivers of the REIPPP programme are the significant social and economic benefits that alternative forms of power are able to promise. In the next issue of 25 Degrees in Africa, be sure to read about the importance and significance of Green Growth in South Africa, especially, and how this differs internationally. Concerning the REIPPP programme, the goevrnment settled on a competitive bidding…
Iceland is known for geothermal power. Geothermal power is cost effective, reliable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly, but has historically been limited to areas near tectonic plate boundaries. Recent technological advances have dramatically expanded the range and size of viable resources, especially for applications such as home heating, opening a potential for widespread exploitation. Gthermal wells release greenhouse gases trapped deep within the earth, but these emissions are much lower per energy unit than those of fossil fuels. As a result, geothermal power has the potential to help mitigate global warming if widely deployed in place of fossil fuels.Hot earth generates…
Shell India will invest almost R9 billion for a floating liquefied natural gas terminal off the coast of India.The company is building the facility on the port of Kakinada, in the state of Andhra Pradesh in a joint venture with Reliance Power Ltd. Shell already has a 3.6 million-ton LNG import facility in Hazira, India.Overall energy demand in the country is forecast to more than double by 2035 to 49.2 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) from 21.1 quadrillion Btu in 2008.The energy-deficient country represents a huge potential for gas imports and Shell India is seeing "material" interest in upstream oil…
According to an announcement by the European Photovoltaic (PV) Industry Association, the world’s combined solar power capacity has managed to hit a new high, topping out at 101 gigawatts! The news shows that renewable energy is definitely on the rise – especially considering that the record for wind power capacity was also broken in 2012As more and more solar arrays are installed in nations across the continents, the world’s dependence on oil and other fossil fuels shrinks, helping to pave the way for continued renewable energy in the future.Aside from starting the safeguarding process against these natural resources that will…
If intermittent renewable energies were less costly than fossil energy, the worst effects of global warming could be avoided, but also, the world's power problems would be gone with the wind (literally). The world could have clean and sustainable power forever. Even though wind and solar energy are getting less costly, but being available only on a part-time basis, they can't compete with traditional fossil fuels. Energy storage is a key to the future of renewables. It can be done today for every project on the planet, but at a significant cost. There are all kinds of ways to store…
LEDs are making headway in the lighting market but they still face challenges. LED light bulbs, for example, are not yet widely available in the brightness equivalent of conventional high wattage bulbs.Graphene, lighting’s new wünderkind, can be used on applications spanning from construction to electronics and LED’s. This is why researchers have been working to develop ways of mass producing grapheme to make it widely available for public use. A group of researchers led by the University of Oxford’s research centre, has been working on finding ways to grow graphene without defects, and the method should be scalable to large…
According to a study done by Dr. Andrew Flewitt and DR. Robert Phaal, from Cambridge University’s Department of Engineering, together with Scott White, CEO of Pragmatic printing, a new generation of cheap lightweight plastic electronic technology that does not require silicon, but which is optically transparent and can be coated onto everyday objects, would transform our world. Imagine electronically updated food labels, computers embedded in our armchairs, and even contact lenses linking us directly to the Internet to bring us into the age of plastic electronics. In this video, the researchers talk about the creative partnership forged between different parts…
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) recently made a discovery that could replace current cooling systems, which use refrigerants harmful to the environment, with a revolutionary cooling system using lasers. This discovery, published and featured on the cover of the 24 January 2013 issue of Nature, could also lead to a host of other innovations. These innovations include making huge Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines, unwieldy night vision goggles and satellite cameras. This breakthrough in laser cooling technology also points to the development of computer chips that cool on their own, minimising heat and prolonging battery life for portable devices…
Milan is one of the most polluted cities in the world. Luckily, Stefano Boeri Architects aim to mitigate some of the environmental damage that has been inflicted upon the city by urbanisation. Project Bosco Verticale (meaning Vertical Forest) is a project for metropolitan reforestation that contributes to the regeneration of the environment and urban biodiversity without the implication of expanding the city upon the territory. Bosco Verticale is a model of vertical densification of nature within the city. It is a model that operates correlated to the policies for reforestation and naturalization of the large urban and metropolitan borders (Metrosbosco).…
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Current solar technology is struggling to deliver the performance and affordable cells we want. However, researchers at Northwestern University recently found a way to increase the effectiveness of organic solar cells with a genetic algorithm. The researchers put an algorithm to work in order to find a new pattern for a scattering layer, placed on top of an organic solar cell. The scattering layer scatters light that falls on the solar cell in order to increase the time the light is within the cell, thus increasing the amount of light that can be converted to electricity. Source: Northwestern University's McCormick…
The National Energy regulator of South Africa (Nersa) held its public hearings on Eskom’s proposed price increase of 16% over the next five years at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand this week. Parties that presented were consistent in their view that an annual increase of 16% for five years would have a significantly negative impact on industries and the economy. Ted Blom from the Independent Mining Energy Advisors told the panel hosting the public hearings that Eskom’s proposition equated to an increase of 104% after five years. "The tariff being charged is R1.20c/kWh. Where do all the intermediate costs go…
The global drive towards sustainable construction is expected to strongly influence the South African green building industry. The promulgation of the South African National Standards (SANS 10400-XA) legislation and the voluntary initiative of the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) are key drivers for growth in this market.
Was the 18th session of the Conference of Parties (COP18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which took place in Doha, Qatar, from 26 November to 8 December 2012, a colossal failure? Or did it provide a pathway towards a more sustainable future? Karien Slabbert investigates.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) recently announced its belief that Africa has the ability to fuel the majority of its future growth with renewable energy.Many African countries are experiencing massive economic and demographic growth.The IRENA report shows that a combination of different renewable sources could help Africa to continue its growth unhindered. Adnan Z Amin, IRENA’s director-general, says: “Africa is undergoing a transformation, and has an unparalleled opportunity to use renewable energy to promote growth and improve millions of lives across the continent.” This is based on a GTM research report, which listed the Middle East and North Africa…
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy recently released its list of the greenest cars for 2013 on greencars.org.The green list is dominated by the Japanese giant Toyota. The manufacturer’s Prius C took the number one spot. The Prius C, which was launched in 2012, is Toyota’s more compact addition to the Prius family. The original Prius was ranked 3rd on the list. Furthermore, the rest of the top scorers included the new plug-in Prius hybrid, which sits at 4th place, and the larger Prius V, creeping in at the 11th place.Other top contenders are Honda, with the Honda Fit…
Micro-hydropower is a type of hydroelectric power that typically produces up to 100kW of electricity using the natural flow of water. There are many of these installations around the world, particularly in developing nations as they can provide an economical source of energy without the purchase of fuel.Micro-hydro systems complement photovoltaic solar energy systems because in many areas water flow, and thus available hydropower, is the highest in the winter when solar energy is at a minimum. Micro-hydropower is frequently accomplished with a pelton wheel for high-head, low-flow water supply. The installation is often just a small dammed pool, at…
Sustainable Energy Society of South Africa (SESSA) Photovoltaic Division member KG Electric has supplied a 35,2kWp solar pumping system at Haakdoringduin, which is about 100km from Upington. The installation is, as if yet, the biggest solar pump system in South Africa. The installation was undertaken by AgriSolar of Upington, with engineering and commissioning assistance from KG Electric.The 37KW solar pump system consists of two Lorentz-type PS21k surface pumps, each powered by 18,5KWp solar PV arrays, yielding a nominal performance of up to 75cum/hour at 70m total head.The purpose of the solar pump system is to replace the current diesel-driven pumps…
PetroSA’s Project Ikhwezi led to the initiation of a new metallurgical testing laboratory for One Eighty Degrees, a Western Cape-based company involved in industrial metal and chemical testing. A number of contracts for the project were initially granted to foreign suppliers, due to the offshore aspect of it. In accordance with the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) National Industrial Participation Programme (NIPP), such contracts triggered the NIPP application. One such contract was with Allseas, which is a global leader in off-shore pipeline installation and sub-sea construction. The DTI stipulates that all non-BEE compliant suppliers source up to 30% of…
On Monday 14 January 2013, South Africa’s Energy Minister, Dipuo Peters, reported that the Department of Energy (DoE) had reached an agreement with the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) on a ministerial determination to open the way for the procurement of 7 761MW of base-load capacity between now and 2025.Peters also confirmed that the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP) would be extended into a rolling procurement programme, with an additional allocation of 3 200MW to be added for projects that could be developed by 2020.The REIPPP was launched in August 2011. While the government initially planned…
New research done by the University of Delaware and Delaware Technical Community College found that renewable energy could fully power a large electric grid 99,9% of the time by 2030, at costs comparable to today’s electricity expenses. The combination of wind power, solar power and storage in batteries and fuel cells, when managed correctly, could exceed electricity demands while keeping costs minimal. The researchers developed a model that would consider 28-billion combinations of renewable energy sources and storage mechanisms, each tested over four years of historical hourly weather data and electricity demands. The model focused on minimising costs, instead of…
An experiment on a coastal inlet in Norway may help to draw attention to the untapped power that lies in the salty sea’s osmosis. A Norwegian energy company, Statkraft, has been testing new technology in the world’s first osmotic power plant. Researchers around the world are joining in Statkraft’s efforts to harness this new form of renewable energy from the saltwater that covers more than 70% of the earth’s surface.Independent experts see the potential, even though the power plant is decidedly miniature and still in its early stages of development. The reason behind the madness is, of course, that osmotic…
Renewable energy investment has reached its lowest investment volumes since 2006, as a number of large private equity companies called it quits in 2013. In 2012 private equity and venture-capital investors provided R51-billion to solar, biofuel, wind and smart-grid start-ups worldwide. The decline reflects a shrinking market, as did the fact that fewer entrepreneurs sought capital for clean energy start-ups. Royal Dutch Shell Plc participated in a R230-millionfunding round in December for GlassPoint Solar Inc., which is developing a system to use heat from sunlight to produce steam that’s used in oil-recovery operations. Other aspects of the renewable energy industry,…
The state-owned electricity utility Eskom has concluded 11 power buy-back deals with ferrochrome and alloys producers from 1 December 2012 to 31 March 2013 in an effort to create a cushion for its summer maintenance programme.Eskom has confirmed that multiple deals have been concluded with some companies to cover their various facilities.Some of these companies include the ferrochrome producers Hernic and Xstrata-Merafe, who confirmed in December that they are participating in Eskom’s second buy-back round. Eskom spent R1,8-billion between December 2011 and May 2012 buying back power from industrial customers.Eskom’s 2012/13 budget allocation for all demand response and buy-back programmes…
Silicon represents 28.2% of the Earth's crust by weight, exceeded only by oxygen. Researchers at the University of Michigan however have recently devised a new way of collecting silicon crystals that proves much easier and cheaper than traditional methods. Combined, Silicon and Oxygen create silicon dioxide or sand, which makes up 40% of the crust. With this great abundance it makes sense that we would use silicon as much as we do, but harvesting the silicon is very difficult. The new method is a combination of two classic experiments: supersaturating water with sugar and electrolysis. Liquid gallium is supersaturated with…
The Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) has submitted a proposal to the Indian government for setting up a solar telescope along the Indo-China border. The telescope will be set up by 2017 near Pangong, a saltwater lake in Ladakh. It will be the largest solar telescope in the world, according to the scientists at the IIA, who have called the project for its construction the National Large Solar Telescope (NLST). Construction on the telescope will begin by the end of 2013. The NLST will have the capability to discern objects and particles like sunspots spread 50 kilometers across the sun’s…
Felton New Zealand (NZ) revolutionised the modern shower by developing Oxijet shower heads, which incorporates low-flow technology to save water. In collaboration with Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Felton has developed an “air shower” head that injects tiny air bubbles into the water droplets to make the shower feel like it’s at full pressure, yet while using 50 percent less water. There does exist other air shower systems, but the Oxijet is unusual in that it can be fitted to almost any standard shower fitting. It was tested at the Novotel Northbeach hotel in Wollongong, Australia. Traditional…
It’s time to stop swimming upstream.With smart apps, up-to-date reports, smart thinking and innovation, water management stands to benefit from information technology in more than one way. As a chemical compound, nothing could be simpler than water: two atoms of hydrogen joined to an oxygen atom. But that is where its simplicity ends. Water is an indispensible commodity that trickles down to every sphere of our lives. It forms the backbone of energy production, manufacturing, mining, healthcare, transportation, food production, business and our everyday lives. Undeniably, we live in a thirsty world and South Africa is no exception. South Africa…
Volkswagen is promising to be more energy efficient on the dawn of climate change. Volkswagen US has started implementation of a solar farm at its Chattanooga manufacturing facility to power up to 12.5 percent of the plant’s needs during full production and 100% off production. The farm includes 33,600 solar modules from JA Solar, which is owned and operated by renewable energy developer Silicon Ranch. VW signed a 20-year contract to buy the electricity, earning it the distinction of being the first automaker to earn a LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The panels will produce nearly…
This year, we hope to see the implementation of the innovative glow-in-the-dark tarmac on Netherlands’ super highways that warns drivers of weather conditions. “The Smart Highway” includes glow-in-the-dark roads, interactive lighting and an induction priority lane for electric vehicles, the team wants to use light, energy and road signs that automatically adapt to varying traffic conditions. Studio Roosegaarde designed the concept, which won the Best Future Concept prize at the Dutch Design Awards 2012. One particularly interesting feature of the roads, are its luminous pathways. Treated with a foto-luminizing powder, the roads ‘charge’ with solar technology during the day, and…
Nuclear fusion is the dark child of alternative energy. While solar and wind power have been hot topics for the past few years, masses have seemed to ignore the fact that nuclear fusion has the potential to become the world’s source of clean power. Enter the ITER experiment. In an effort e to build the first prototype, commercial fusion reactor, nations have jumped on the bandwagon to this experiment. Now, researchers at the European Fusion Development Agreement have released a roadmap for ITER and the DEMO power plant.Nuclear fusion releases energy by combining the nuclei of light atoms including deuterium,…
Many countries depend on fossil fuels for the provision of electricity, fuel and heating. Fossil fuels are also frequently imported, which poses a threat to the economy, costing money and the environment. As the demand for solar energy increases, so will the demand for materials to be manufactured and new technologies to be developed. Such tasks involve skilled employees, leading to significant job growth. Why solar? Firstly, solar energy cannot be taxed and does therefore not have a price that fluctuates. Political or economical negotiations are not necessary with the sun. Solar power can significantly reduce overall energy costs, whether…
Researchers have recently found that the efficiency of wind power is limited by the materials and methods that the technology currently employs. This led researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and eight other partners to start work on a revolutionary new design that should cut costs greatly while also increasing output. Traditional generators use magnets to create a magnetic field, which is used to generate electricity. The stronger the magnets, the more power can be generated, however, strong magnets are very expensive. A new proposal for the design of wind turbines utilize superconductors to create the magnetic fields and…
In the midst of frantic preparation for the 2014 FIFA Soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, Brazil has managed to keep a sound mind over one thing: the fact that they boast one of the world's cleanest energy grids. The country's reliance on hydropower has long granted it the status as one of the cleaner nations of the world. However, a recent threat to their water suppy has quickly started to send panic through the country to a point that they are on the brink of energy rationing. This raises the question as to whether Brazil will have any…
South Africa's Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, sees the Green Economy initiative as a tool to create opportunities and drive job creation. He was addressing delegates at the two day manufacturing opportunities conference held today in Pretoria, when he mentioned that:“South Africa needs to be part of the development and revolution in the new green economy and not be seen as service providers like it did during the Information Communication Technology (ICT) development era. If we are to achieve job creation, then greening the economy is the way to go.” He also said the National Building Regulations…
Tukkies inspires with water initiative The University of Pretoria, also known as ‘Tukkies’, realised they could save significantly on water consumption when Shared Energy Management (SEM) approached them in 2007 with a proposal to measure, manage and optimise their water consumption across its three campuses. Five years later, the university with the assistance of SEM realised a 60% saving in water consumption. Shared Energy Management (SEM) was appointed to measure, quantify, manage and implement pragmatic solutions. The shared-risk model assured that there was no risk to the university as SEM would only be remunerated if savings were realised.Rip Wyma, director…
Dr. Naoko Ishii announces initiative at UNFCCC COP18 to hold series of discussions as part of GEF2020 strategic review: Naoko Ishii, CEO of the Global Environment Facility, announced that she will lead a Forum on Innovation and Partnership as part of her “GEF2020” strategy exercise aimed at positioning the GEF to address growing environmental threats on a global scale. Structured as a series of high-level dialogues, the forum seeks to foster thought-provoking discussion of the dynamics of strategic partnerships involving the public and private sectors and the ways they can be used to encourage and bring about innovation and technology…
Yesterday, both the co-chairpersons of the Global Network of Women Ministers and Leaders for the Environment (NWMLE), Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Republic of South Africa, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi and the Minister of Environment from the Kingdom of Sweden, Ms Lena Ek led the meeting of the NWMLE under the auspices of UNFCCC COP 18 here in Doha, Qatar.In March 2002, the IUCN and the Council of World Women Leaders convened a meeting of women ministers and leader for the environment in Helsinki, Finland. In attendance were 22 Women Ministers of Environment and 28 Women Leaders of intergovernmental…
Nine ecological projects around the world that are improving lives and helping to save the environment, were praised at the Momentum for Change awards. From energy-efficient brick production in Peru to electric public transport in Sri Lanka, the projects were acclaimed as Lighthouse Activities at a high-level ceremony to recognise public-private partnerships that benefit the urban poor and address climate change.. The Momentum for Change awards wereinitiated at COP17/CMP7 Durban to recognise urban initiatives working to reduce poverty and address climate change. Ms. Figueres said of this year’s winners: “Forget this Conference, forget the texts. These projects take us out…
In a context where investor confidence in South Africa is under pressure, South African transparency and performance in the investor lead initiative, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) 2012 Report of the JSE 100 is a shining light. The report, released by the National Business Initiative (NBI) last night (22 Nov), shows the South African CDP response rate of 78% is the second highest internationally by geographic region reaffirming local business as a global leader in terms of their participation.The CDP surveys more than 5000 companies worldwide on behalf of 655 institutional investors (CDP signatories) representing $78 trillion in assets. This…
Africa continues to provide opportunity and attract project investors from around the world. The International Monetary Fund forecasts Sub-Saharan African growth at 4,8% which compares favourably with the world average of 3,3%. The number of projects on the continent has quadrupled from that of 10 years ago and the quality of projects has improved substantially. Paul Runge – Managing Director of specialised consulting firm Africa Project Access will be heading a round table discussion on the last day of the upcoming Africa Energy Indaba on 21 February 2013– opening up the floor for discussion on major energy greenfields and brownfields…
The Competition Commission recently announced that it had brought charges of price-fixing against the local units of major oil companies. These companies include Chevron, BP and Total, Shell, Sasol and Engen. According to a statement by the Commission, the companies reportedly shared detailed information about sales and customers to hinder competition. According to the statement, the conspiracy ran from the late 1980s to 2005 and included petrol, diesel, illuminating kerosene and other products. The statement notes: “Information at this level of detail allowed the oil companies to closely track each other’s sales and to align their strategies in the market,…
The Free Market Foundation has reportedly warned the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) against approving Eskom’s 16% tariff hike proposal by predicting that South African consumers will pay increases hugely exceeding inflation.The director of the Free Market Foundation, Eustace Davie, argues that, according to the general Consumer Price Index (CPI), Eskom’s prices will be 400% higher than inflation over the nine-year period. Davie further raises the Foundation’s concern about the economics of the situation as it promotes economic freedom. Eskom, however, has argued that the increases are needed to maintain ageing power stations, build new ones and cover…
South Africa’s Kestrel Renewable Energy, which operates as a subsidiary of the battery manufacturer Eveready, was awarded United Kingdom certification for its small wind turbine in August, and the turbine will be used for the UK’s feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme. The Kestrel e400nb 3,5 KW turbine is the first of its kind to receive approval from the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), which ensures that UK citizens who own wind turbines are paid for the electricity it produces. As a result of the MCS certification, the Kestrel wind turbine has also been conditionally registered in the United States with the North…
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has been appointed by PetroSA to manage the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process for its proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) off-loading facility in Mossel Bay.The EIA identifies and evaluates the environmental characteristics of a proposed project and its possible impact on the environment. The project, which has been continuously investigated since 2008, has previously encountered various challenges, among them commercial viability.PetroSA’s new proposal involves importing LNG into Mossel Bay through a floating LNG facility (FLNG), comprising a breakwater and berth structure. This structure will allow a permanently moored floating, storage and re-gasification…
The petroleum company Anadarko recently entered into an agreement with Dolphin Geophysical for the company to acquire 2D seismic on the Anadarko offshore acreage.Dolphin Geophysical’s Artemis Atlantic vessel will be used to acquire data over the 6,250km area. The survey is scheduled to begin in December 2012. It will be the company’s second contract in South Africa, after being awarded a contract by Shell in August. Dolphin’s vice-president of marketing and sales, Phil Suter, said in a statement: “This is our second contract for work in South Africa and marks another award from a major oil company, demonstrating Dolphin’s strengthening…
The financial services sector plays a critical role in Africa’s development. Increased consumer spending, public and private sector investment in infrastructure, advances in technology leading to greater connectivity and an increasing demand for natural resources by the developing BRIC bloc of countries are significantly adding to the prominence of the sector in terms of the continent’s economic and social development. The seventh KPMG Africa Conversation identified these and other factors, which include increasing urbanisation across the continent, a greater number of enabling frameworks such as the increasing acceptance of the rule of law and the harmonisation of regulatory requirements at…
After mass investor withdrawal, it was relieving news that Ireland’s Mainstream Renewable Power (MRP) announced that it was starting construction on solar and wind power projects in South Africa. The R5,5-billion investment is operating under a government programme, which has lead to the initiation of the country’s first large-scale renewable energy projects. The company is one of 28 independent power producers that have signed contracts with the South African government in the past few weeks, which marked the first round of a programme that aims to add an initial 1 400 MW of renewable energy to South Africa, while bringing…
According to ScienceDaily, researchers at the University of Arkansas have recently developed a thermal energy-storage system. The new system will work as a practical alternative to current methods that are used for storing solar energy. By incorporating the improved design into the operation of a concentrated solar power plant, annual energy production is predicted to increase significantly, even as production costs lower. Current storage methods use molten salts, oils or beds of packed rock as a medium for conducting heat in the thermal energy-storage tanks. The principal concern with using these methods is not the loss of collected energy, but…
The first annual ECA (SA) Presidential Awards programme was a great success. The Awards programme consisted of a two-day event filled with golfing fun, an exciting Awards Banquet to announce the category winners and a valuable industry conference.An impressive 39 entries were received across the 8 categories for 2012. Said outgoing ECA (SA) President, “To all entrants who were brave enough to expose themselves to scrutiny against the standard called excellence, congratulations. As I stand here I know that you fully understand that it is not good enough merely be good and you challenged yourself to be excellent in the…
Eskom's request for a 16% tariff increase from the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) was a necessity, said Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba on Tuesday.Addressing a New Age / SABC breakfast briefing, Gigaba said although the power parastatal wished it could have kept its request to a single-digit figure, the double-digit tariff hike request was necessitated by the tough conditions prevailing in the economy."The economic situation is biting, but we must balance that with future needs [with] our ability to ensure security of supply of electricity. This 16% [request] could have been ... higher had Eskom continued to pursue…
Siemens has decided to reorganize its activities in the water business. The company intends to focus in the future on automation and drive solutions for the control of water applications for municipalities and industry. The Business Unit known as Siemens Water Technologies, which offers solutions for municipal and industrial water purification and wastewater treatment, is to be sold along with the corresponding service activities. "This business shows only minor synergies with our industrial portfolio, as the skills for water treatment are primarily based on chemical expertise. Instead of investing into that business, we want to gear our resources toward our…
The national Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for 2010-2030 stated South Africa’s intention to add 9 600 MW of nuclear energy to the energy mix by 2030 on 17 October 2012. The IRP is the country’s 20-year plan towards the balancing of electricity production and consumption. As the country prepares for the implementation, the government has taken the initiative to assess its readiness for the nuclear new building programme of the country by using the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) milestone approach called the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR). South African nuclear stakeholders such as Necsa, Eskom, the National Nuclear Regulator…
Measurement and verification (M&V) is the most critical component in any project that focuses on the savings of any form of energy needs to be quantified. South Africa is seen as a world leader in this field. In an initiative led by the University of Pretoria, a publication titled Energy-efficiency measurement & verification practices: demystifying M&V through South African case studies, will be launched at the 7th Southern African Energy-Efficiency Convention 2012 (SAEEC). The launch will take place on 14 November at the M&V breakaway session at Emperor’s Palace, Gauteng. The publication encapsulates what energy management and energy-efficiency are all…
On its quest to expand, PetroSA has signed another agreement with an international organisation – this time with Cohydro Sarl from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This will ensure cooperation with PetroSA in its pursuit of oil and gas companies in the DRC. PetroSA said: “The agreement ensures that the two national oil companies will develop a framework for cooperation and jointly pursue oil and gas opportunities in the DRC. A cooperation committee, consisting of members from both parties, has been established to facilitate the implementation.” According to Nosizwe Nokwe-Macamo, the group’s chief executive officer (CEO), the agreement represents…
The Chinese manufacturer CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive (CSR) has been appointed to supply 95 electric locomotives that will be used in Transnet Freight Rail’s (TFR) general freight business. “The purchase will boost operational performance and overall energy-efficiency of the rail service‚” Transnet said in a statement. Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba made the announcement on Monday. The winning bidder is a joint venture between CSR, which has a 70% stake, and Matsetse Basadi, which owns the remainder. It will be known as CSR E-loco Supply. According to Gigaba, speaking at the official signing at TFR’s Capital Park Depot in Pretoria,…
Eskom has announced that it will hand over the contracts it has with BHP Billiton to supply electricity at a level that does not reflect costs to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa).In five years the average Eskom electricity tariff will be 128c per kilowatt-hour if Nersa approves the third multi-year price determination (MYPD3) application by the power utility that was handed in on Friday. This average is in stark contrast to alleged rates of between 8,8c/kWh and 12c/kWh that is stated in the two contracts Eskom has with BHP Billiton. Brian Dames, CEO of Eskom, explained in…
On Monday 22 October Eskom Holdings Ltd., the state-owned supplier of about 95% of South Africa’s power, announced the details of its application to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) for a tariff determination to cover the next five years from April 2013. Eskom is seeking a 16% increase in average electricity prices to avoid a repeat of the numerous electricity blackouts across the country in the first quarter of 2008, as Eskom rotated the limited power available.The utility has to apply to Nersa for permission to raise tariffs and wants annual increases of that size from 2013…