Solar Water Heating

Volume 4, Journal 4 - November 2009

Investing in the restoration and maintenance of the Earth's multi-trillion dollar ecosystems – from forests and mangroves to wetlands and river basins – could play a key role in countering climate change and climateproofing vulnerable economies. This was according to central findings of a new climate issues update by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), a project launched by Germany and the EuropeanCommission in response to a proposal by the G8+5 Environment Ministers (Potsdam, Germany 2007) to develop a global study on the economics of biodiversity loss.
The Cape Homemakers Expo is an annual exhibition which has its roots firmly planted in a history of nearly 15 years of speaking to the every need of homemakers and home-owners. The Expo is a renowned ‘showcase’ event held in the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) each year, and attracts around 30 000 visitors to each event, be it their need for décor, electronics, safety, relaxation, maintenance or, more recently, ‘greening’ their homes.
Large-scale tree planting on agricultural land may save those primary forests, agroforestry experts argue, but the new plantations are detrimental to biodiversity and indigenous people, critics respond.
Following a strict global carbon budget is the only way to ride out climate change – a precept that is as much the responsibility of developing countries as it is of developed ones.
International carbon offsets are financial instruments that allow companies and governments to mitigate their GHG (greehouse gas) emissions through funding renewable energy projects in developing countries. Friends of the Earth contends that international offsets allow developed countries to go on polluting, delaying the development of a global low-carbon economy.
The Royal Danish Embassy has provided funding for the Urban Environmental Management (UEM) programme to implement a massive carbon off-set project in cooperation with the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs (DWEA).
Siemens is expanding its global manufacturing network for wind turbine plants by building a new production facility in Lingang New City, Shanghai. Through establishing this new rotor blade and nacelle plant, the company is further strengthening its already impressive environmental portfolio.
Converting to solar energy needn’t mean covering a roof in unsightly solar panels. SRS Energy, a Philadelphia company, has developed the Solé Power Tile, a roof tile designed to sustainably convert sunlight into electricity without compromising on aesthetics.
Renewable energy in the form of wind turbines combined with advertising is the latest eco-friendly way to advertise outdoors. The turbines not only serve as permanent outdoor billboards but also generate electricity through harnessing the wind’s power.
Reatile Gaz (Pty) Ltd (“Reatile”), a subsidiary of Reatile Resources (Pty) Ltd, has merged its operations with the South African LPG marketing interests of Engen Petroleum Ltd, in a transaction that gives Reatile an established footprint across the key centres within Southern Africa.
Founded in 2001, EcoDrive SA and EcoLight Distributors SA were started with the sole goal of looking at ways to reduce energy. In their quest for other energy efficient products, they uncovered a niche market in the retrofit arena whereby existing light fittings are reused, without the need for rewiring or replacing perfectly usable parts.
eSolar, a leading provider of modular, scalable solar thermal power technology, has partnered with Johannesburg-based Clean Energy Solutions (CES) to open eSolarSA in order to expand sales operations across Sub- Saharan Africa. Through the agreement, CES is granted the exclusive right to represent and distribute eSolar's concentrating solar power technology throughout a seven-country region, including the Republic of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.
A collaborate effort between the DOE and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is now making it possible for students, scientists, researchers and the general public to access decades of nuclear research online.
Uranium mining, the beneficiation of uranium ore within South Africa, nuclear power and its associated environmental issues are currently attracting considerable attention locally.
Bethlehem Hydro power plant, the first new hydro power project in South Africa since the 1980’s, was officially opened by the Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, on the 30th of October 2009.
The ISES Solar World Congress 2009, hosted by the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa in Johannesburg, was attended by participants from all over the world from Sunday, 11 October to Wednesday, 14 October. One of the conclusions was that the global target of 100% renewableenergies is both attainable and necessary by the middle of the current century.
As part of a programme aimed at assisting government to meet the goals of the Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (ASGI-SA), as well as fulfilling the requirements of tenders issued by Eskom, Siemens Southern Africa hosted an ASGISA Awareness Event on the 2nd of October at Siemens Park in Midrand, Johannesburg to introduce the students recruited for training to Eskom, where they will be working on several projects during their practical training phase for South Africa’s power producer.
This informative book provides the first comprehensive overview of the state of research on the complex issues surrounding ‘climate change and drylands’.
BASF has announced first figures for the third quarter of 2009. Sales were €12,8-billion (ZAR145,40-billion), i.e. 19% less than in the same period of 2008, and 2,4% more than in the second quarter of 2009. The preliminary figure for third-quarter income from operations (EBIT) before special items was €1,25-billion (ZAR14,2-billion), 20% less than in the same period of 2008 and 9,5% more than in the second quarter of 2009.
At its annual meeting held in Reykjavik, Iceland, the Executive Assembly of the World Energy Council (WEC) unanimously appointed Brian A. Statham, Chairman of the South African National Energy Association(SANEA), as Chair-Elect of the WEC Studies Committee and a Member of the Officers’ Council.
The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) participated in the first annual World Green Building Day during September. The event saw green building councils worldwide hosting events to highlight theimportance of green building.
Graphisoft, a global leader in Virtual Building™ solutions, has announced that Graphisoft EcoDesigner™, a energy analysis estimation tool for ArchiCAD 13, is now available to South African architects who wish tomake the design of their buildings more sustainable and their predicted performance easier to measure.
BASF will soon be presenting its range of innovative products for the solar industry at the European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC) in Hamburg, Germany. Experts will inform industry professionals about the company’s comprehensive portfolio of products and services.
Amidst the doom and gloom of climate change, economic meltdown, wildly fluctuating oil prices and rocketing food prices, it is a relief to come across a glimmer in the dark. At a function in Cape Town during October, the Institute for Zero Waste in Africa (IZWA – “listen” in Nguni) unveiled a systems-based approach to these issues in order to demonstrate what really is possible.
Due to poor planning, decades of under-investment and deteriorating infrastructure, the provision of electricity in Mozambique has, thus far, been deficient. Lately, however, outstanding economic growth and the government rural electrification programme are galvanising the electricity industry in the country.
International heating systems manufacturer Viessmann now uses Basotect® to insulate its solar collectors. The light, flame-retardant melamine resin foam produced by BASF is fitted to the side walls and the rear of flat-plate collectors which capture solar radiation and convert it into heat.
Oxford scientists have created a transparent form of aluminium by bombarding the metal with the world’s most powerful soft X-ray laser. ‘Transparent aluminium’ previously only existed in science fiction, asfeatured in the movie Star Trek IV, but the real material is an exotic new state of matter with exciting implications for planetary science and nuclear fusion.
Whether free-falling back to earth after being catapulted 70 metres into the air, or hurtling five times head-over-heels on the giant roller coaster, millions of visitors will soon be enjoying the numerous fairground rides – turned and controlled by Siemens technology – at the 176th Munich Oktoberfest.
Although it’s an easy task to monitor home power consumption, few people think about the energy impact of talking on cellphones for hours on end. The reality is that cellphone towers have to be powered by ‘something’, and in many cases that something is coal or other expensive, on-the-grid sources.
World-first fully sustainable Formula 3 racing car. Could the idea of ‘green motorsport’ actually work? Yes, believes researcher Kerry Kirwan, from the University of Warwick, who led the research team that designed and built the world-first fully sustainable Formula 3 racing car. The car is made from woven flax, recycled carbon fibre, recycled resin and carrot pulp for the steering wheel and runs on biofuel made from chocolate and animal fats, lubricated with plant oils.
South Africa’s first Media Sustainability Index (MSI) which aims to assess companies’ relative performance on sustainability-related media reportage was launched recently by sustainability consultancy and publisher Trialogue, and co-creator analysis specialist Media Tenor. The MSI provides companies operating in the South African market with a strategic communications benchmarking tool through its quantitative and qualitative analysis of companies and issues under the sustainability spotlight in the media.
“We must not be too quick to rely on standard engineering principles,” comments Arup Mechanical Engineer Graham Peters, and adds: “We need to continually investigate alternative methods. In today's climate, it'sinexcusable not to think outside the box”. Peters favours a forward thinking approach which entails designing the most highly efficient engineering solution which involves looking at passive or low-energy systems first – and then employing systems of a traditional nature if this is absolutely unavoidable.
In the early 1990s, Pierlite recognised the need for a low energy consuming street light, the features of which were simple: it would have to dramatically reduce the energy consumption of a minor street light, without compromising the light output.
Rigifoam provides a wide variety of quality insulation solutions. Lambdaboard, in particular, can be used in ceilings as a polyisocyanurate insulated board with an extremely low coefficient of thermal conductivity.
In the last edition of 25° in Africa, errors were made in the article about TWP Projects (Power company offers full service solutions, p 46). The editorial staff of 25° in Africa would like to apologise for any and all incorrect information that was published.
In the future, wind farms are going to become a more important part in the generation of electricity on account of the worldwide need to reduce carbon emissions and contain climate change. Over the past decade, the technology has matured and wind farms are now a common sight in Europe, the USA and China. In certain instances, they can also provide the generation of electricity to customers, thereby reducing the load on the local grid, freeing up capacity on the transmission and distribution electricitynetworks and reducing transmission losses.
Strategies ConferenceAs global warming and climate change take centre stage in international discussions for the industrialised and developing countries, South African companies are being forced to prepare themselves for compulsory carbon emission reduction requirements.
Whether your business is in the private or public sector, the growing need for ‘power security’ places an increasing emphasis on standby solutions. Rod Warnes, Senior Manager of Barloworld Power’s Turnkey Power division explains that this emphasis has rippled across all industries who need to achieve uninterrupted operation, come rain or shine.
Beaming electric power from space as a viable solar energy option may not be as far-fetched as it sounds! The practical application of this concept could be markedly accelerated by experiments ? some employing the International Space Station and including orbital mirrors and microwave and laser-beaming in space, says engineer and researcher Martin Hoffert.
South Africans used 2,1% less electricity in July this year in comparison with the same month in 2008, revealed Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) recently. The estimated seasonally adjusted electricity consumption was 5,3% lower in the first seven months of 2009, when compared with the first seven months of 2008.
The Siemens Energy Sector is expanding its product spectrum of Flexible AC Transmission Systems (FACTS) with its new reactive power compensation system: SVC Plus (Static Var Compensator).
The year under review has been primarily about keeping the lights on and recovering the power system.“The extraordinary measures have come at a cost to Eskom’s bottom line. This, however, has resulted in an improvement in the health of the country’s power system and an increased resilience on the part of Eskom,” comments Eskom’s Chief Executive, Jacob Maroga.
As opposed to many other African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy continued to keep its freedom from colonial rule (except for a brief occupation by Mussolini’s Italy from 1036-1941). The Derg, a military junta in Ethiopia, deposed Emporer Haile Selassie in 1974. Selassie had ruled since 1930 and after he was dethroned, the Derg established a socialist state.
Ethiopia has the potential to produce hydroelectric and geothermal power. As of mid-1991, however, no comprehensive assessment of this potential has been available, although some estimates indicated that the total potential could be as much as 143-billion kilowatts. The main sources of this potential are thought to be the Abay (Blue Nile; 79,9-billion kilowatts), the Shebele (21,6-billion kilowatts), and the Omo (16,1-billion kilowatts). The remaining 25.9-billion kilowatts could come from rivers such as the Tekezé, Awash, Baro, Genale, and Mereb.
Biofuelsdigest.com reports that in China, experts are warning that plans to produce biofuels in the southwest will threaten biodiversity in the last remaining section of the virgin forest in the country. At the International Workshop on Biodiversity and Climate Change in Beijing last year, the country was also warned against the planting of jatropha trees, which could threaten native grasses and a diverse range of animal species. But just how much of a threat does jatropha pose, and is there research to support these claims? 25°in Africa provides a roundup of the most popular veins of thinking and the evidence…
Independent power producer (IPP) Lesedi Biogas Project (LBP) is planning to build one of the world’s largest open-air feedlot manure-to-power plants in Heidelberg, South Africa. The first large-scale biogas plant linked to a beef feedlot, it could make a sizably significant contribution to renewable energy in the country. Such plants use anaerobic fermentation (bacterial fermentation of organic waste, with little or no oxygen present) to produce a methane-rich gas which can be used to produce electricity.
The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, tasked with leading the African team to the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen in December, has said that African countries will not blindly support any position that does not factor in the continent’s specific interests. Zenawi was recently appointed the coordinator of the Committee of African Heads of States and Governments on Climate Change.
“Development and climate change are the central problems of the 21st Century. If the world fails on either, it will fail on both. Climate change undermines development. No deal on climate change which stalls development will succeed,” believes Sir Nicholas Stern, economist and author of the Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change.
First, the good news. It’s not difficult to grasp the concept greenhouse gases (GHG), the key ingredient to climate change. Given that roughly two-thirds of global emissions are tied to energy in networks that are already regulated, finding your company’s GHG hotspots should pose no great challenge.
Siemens AG has once again been listed on the prestigious Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI), capturing the No. 1 spot in the sector Diversified Industrials, which also includes ITT, General Electric andToshiba. This is the tenth time in a row that Siemens has been honoured by Dow Jones analysts for its sustainable activities, and is the best the company has ever achieved.
South Africa is amongst the top twenty international per capita emitters of GHG, constituting 1,6% of the global total. As a signatory to both the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, South Africa has embarked on a path to implement future measures to reduce GHG emissions and accelerate energy efficiency and conservation across all sectors. In addition, immediate steps are being taken to regulate emissions from industry in terms of the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act of 2004 (“Air Quality Act”).
The international investor group Carbon Disclosure Project has again included BASF in the prestigious Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index (CDLI) as number one of all companies in the materials sector. Resultantly, in the area of climate protection, the chemical company is among the top performers in the CDLI, an index which includes corporations that excel in addressing the opportunities and risks presented by climate change and in the transparency of their reporting.
The Climate Justice Programme comprises a collaboration of lawyers and campaigners around the world who have committed to encouraging, supporting, and tracking enforcement of the law to combat climate change.
The United Nations development system must quickly build the capacity of national partners to meet the multiple challenges facing them, from achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to fighting climate change, as a host of deadlines loom on these critical issues, a top UN official has said.
Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica has said South Africa is committed to reducing its emission of greenhouse gases (GHG), but for the country to achieve this, it would require extensive international, financial and technical support. This comment was made as Africa prepares to take part in the next round of negotiations on climate change, scheduled to take place in Copenhagen this December.
Global revenues from climate-related businesses such as energy efficiency rose by 75% in 2008 to $530-billion (ZAR4028-billion), and could exceed $2-trillion (ZAR15,2-trillion) by 2020, estimates HSBC Global Research.
Speaking at the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) Global Roundtable Opening Plenary session in Cape Town, South African Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, stated that the cost of inaction towards sustainable development will far exceed the cost of moving towards a low carbon economy, adding that current economic crisis gives us the opportunity to assess the need for sustainable finance and sustainable practices.
Data submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) show that the greenhouse gas emissions of the 40 industrialised countries that have reporting obligations under theconvention rose by 1% from 2006 to 2007. The 2007 emissions of this group of countries are roughly 4% below 1990 levels. Overall, a 3% growth in emissions in the period from 2000 to 2007 was noted.
A regulatory overhaul to strengthen regional development banks, a scaling up of international aid tailored to Africa’s special needs, and debt relief are urgently needed to help buoy African economies weakened by the global financial and economic crisis, several speakers told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) as it continued its consideration of macroeconomic policy questions.
Based on responses by more than 300 global companies, The Carbon Management and Offsetting Trends Survey Results 2009 from EcoSecurities, offers a snapshot of global corporate attitudes toward the voluntary carbon market and the role carbon offsets play within larger carbon management strategies.
As we approach the last round of international climate change negotiations prior to Copenhagen in December this year, it is critical to assess whether business in South Africa is significantly prepared to respond to international and national calls to action and strategic responses to climate change. Furthermore, as the negotiating blocs lobby for a new deal in Copenhagen, it is clear that climate change is increasingly presenting a threat not only to the environment but to business as well.
The notion of a ‘carbon tax’ or taxation imposed on the emissions of greenhouse gases with the objective of reducing such emissions, has become a ‘hot’ policy topic internationally.
The Clean Development Mechanism is the international marketplace for high quality carbon reduction credits. Under strict regulation, Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) are generated through a set of project procedures, as set out in the CDM protocol. CERs command a higher price than VERs, as buyers are guaranteed a credible emissions reduction established through internationally accepted standards. (See 25° in Africa, Journal 3 2009)
Carbon tax legislation has become a burning issue of late in the global community. While more and more nations are passing legislation aimed at reducing their carbon footprint, South Africa has yet to formally commit to such a system – a state that is likely to change within the near future.
In our current environment and with the anticipated growth in the world population, biotechnology offers an increase in food production, better use of available resources and alternative sources of energy. A closer look at the history of biotechnology shows that research developed in this area as far back as the fifties. Today, biotechnology is used not only in agriculture, but also in the medical, veterinary, forensic and pharmaceutical fields, environmental sciences, mining, processing and just about any industry that comes to mind.
Started in 2008 by beneficiaries of Land Reform, 167 farmers have received training in the production of biofuel through the Sipulazi Biofuel Cooperative initiative, with the aim of creating alternative fuel for South Africa and employing 4 150 people when the project is in full production.
Despite serious challenges to its development, the sub-Saharan African biofuels market should experience rapid growth in the next five years. This is according to new findings from Frost & Sullivan. The high targets set by the European Union and the United States for the inclusion of biofuels in their fuel supply are a key driver for biofuels projects in the region. In addition, intensified government support for the market has helped attract increased investment into production.