Can SA meet its new target for universal electricity access?

The initiative by government to electrify the households of previously disadvantaged South Africans is generally regarded as one of the significant achievements of the democratic era. However, it is also widely accepted that it cannot be ‘business as usual’ if the country is to achieve the goal of universal access to modern energy for all South Africans by 2025 – a target that will require a combination of grid and nongrid technologies to be met.

Eskom senior GM Andrew Etzinger says access to electricity remains an imperative for economic development, but adds that there are budgetary and human-resource constraints to electrifying “all South Africans at one go”. Read on Engineering News >>


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Medupi start-up delayed to mid-2014

By: Terence Creamer | 8th July 2013 | Engineering News

State-owned power utility Eskom confirmed on Monday that it would not be in a position to meet the end of year deadline for the flow of first power from the Medupi power station.

CEO <strong>Brian Dames</strong> reported that, following an independent assessment and fresh delays to the control and instrumentation contract, a new, “realistic”, timeframe had been set for the second half of 2014.

The power station was meant to supply first power to the grid by December 2013, a deadline reaffirmed as non-negotiable earlier this year by Public Enterprises Minister <strong>Malusi Gigaba</strong>.

Dames also confirmed that the cost of the project had increased from R91.2-billion to R105-billion, excluding interest during construction. In 2008, when the main boiler, turbine and civil contracts had been placed, Medupi’s cost was estimated at R87-billion and was revised to R91.2-billion in June 2012.


Obama’s lightbulb moment on sub-Saharan Africa

"Today, I am proud to announce a new initiative: Power Africa, that will double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa," US President Barack Obama said.

"We’ll start by investing $7-billion in US government resources and partner with the private sector, who have committed more than $9-billion in investment," said Obama, while addressing about 800 people at the University of Cape Town on Sunday evening.

Obama was delivering his remarks at the same venue US former president Robert F Kennedy delivered a speech amidst a political storm in 1966.

National government ministers including Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel and social development minister Bathabile Dlamini, premier Helen Zille, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille and a number of MPs were among those who attended the event.

Sunday was Obama’s last day in South Africa ahead of his visit to Tanzania, the last country on his three-nation visit on the continent. Continue reading

South Africa’s wind farms on universal Green map

South Africa is one of more than 75 countries around the world operating wind farms, generating energy from a clean, renewable and free source, the Energy Ministry said in a press release issued on Thursday ahead of the Global Wind Day commemoration.

“Currently there are only eight turbines in the country, but through the Department of Energy’s sophisticated Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP), there are currently 15 wind farms under construction with many more in various stages of development,” the release said. [MORE]

The sub-Saharan country’s recognition on the universal Green map comes hardly a month after the launch of the first ever renewable energy project, RustMo1 Solar Farm, in Rusternberg where the government made a commitment to embark on a process of moving away from carbon-intense modes of energy generation.

South Africa has been internationally recognised for its renewable energy investments. Earlier this month, the country became one of the 10 founding members of the Renewables Club, a political initiative of pioneering countries that are united by an important goal: a worldwide transformation of the energy system. The 10 Renewables Club members currently account for more than 40 per cent of global investments in renewable energy.

South Africa has a high level of Renewable Energy potential and presently has in place a target of 10,000 giggawatts of Renewable Energy.

South Africa’s Energy Minister Elizabeth Dipuo Peters is expected to join South Africa Wind Energy Association and learners in celebrating Global Wind Day in Cape Town on Saturday, the ministry said. An estimated 220 children from Khayelitsha, Langa and Mitchell’s Plain are going to participate in the international initiative celebrating the power that wind energy provides to change the world.


Carbon tax will not be implemented if not ready

Terence Creamer | 18th June 2013 | Engineering News

South Africa’s National Treasury is still aiming to institute a carbon tax on January 1, 2015, but chief director for economic and tax analysis Cecil Morden reports that government will only move ahead should it feel that the tax is ready for implementation.

Confronted at a National Business Initiative (NBI) workshop on Tuesday by a barrage of questions relating to what was described as insufficient detail in the latest Carbon Tax Policy Paper, released in May, Morden said that more clarity would be provided in draft legislation.

This draft legislation, which will also be published for public comment, should be published by the end of 2013 or in early 2014 and will take account of comments garnered from stakeholders. “So there is quite a long process still to go.” Continue reading

94 MW Western Cape wind project reaches financial close

Terence Creamer | 11th June 2013 | Engineering News

Global energy company GDF Suez has followed up its recent announcement that it will be proceeding with two open-cycle gas-turbines in South Africa with news that it, Investec and Kagiso Tiso Holdings have reached financial close for a €160-million (around R2.2-billion), 94 MW wind project, in the Western Cape.

The project in question is West Coast One, located 130 km north of Cape Town and which is expected to reach commercial operation in mid-2015.

GDF Suez holds a 43% equity interest in the project, Investec, 34.5%, and Kagiso Tiso Holdings, 20%, with the remaining 2.5% to be allocated to a community trust. In addition to investing equity in the project, Investec, jointly with Nedbank, have underwritten approximately R1.5-billion of debt required for the development of the wind farm. Continue reading