South Africa ‘needs to broaden energy supply to include renewables’

19 Mar | BDay Live | Sue Blaine

THE “power crunch” South Africa was experiencing was evidence the country needed to both increase its energy supply, and broaden it to include more flexible energy sources such as renewables, the Word Wide Fund for Nature’s Living Planet Unit chief Saliem Fakir said on Monday.

South Africa, which has suffered a thin energy reserve for several years, is facing blackouts after software critical to Eskom’s Medupi power plant’s operating system failed three tests, especially as there is no clarity on whether the problem can be fixed.

“It is clear Medupi will not come online until 2014, or even later…. Our reserve is very thin and if we need to grow our economy, as we do, even if consumption stabilises, if a big power station goes down we’re in trouble,” said Mr Fakir in an interview with Business Day.

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Africa needs $40bn/y to meet future power demand-report

It is estimated that at least $40-billion a year is required to meet future demand in the African power sector, compared with current yearly investment of less than one-quarter this amount, New Partnership for Africa’s Development energy programme head Professor Mosad Elmissiry said on Monday.

Speaking at the launch of a policy handbook – ‘Powering Africa Through Feed-in Tariffs’, in Johannesburg, he added that energy demand in many parts of Africa markedly exceeded supply, resulting in loadshedding and the loss of productivity and countless jobs.

“Africa’s population is growing at an alarming rate, increasing the demand for energy and compounding the energy shortage problems. The challenges of securing the investment required to meet the need for increased access to clean energy and the rapidly growing demand, in a sustainable way, are formidable,” Elmissiry indicated.

He pointed out that, despite the abundant renewable-energy resources in Africa, its share of primary energy supply was less than 1%, biomass and hydro excluded. This called for a radical change in the approach followed in the development and use of renewable-energy resources. Continue reading

Solar power has record year despite bankruptcies

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

It was a record year for solar installations in the United States in 2012, boosting an industry still struggling with consolidation and bankruptcies.

Over 3.3 gigawatts of solar power were installed last year, according to a report Thursday from the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group. That’s enough to power about 500,000 homes, and it was a 76% increase from 2011.

The industry credited the jump to the declining price of solar panels, stable tax incentives and better financing options.

"We’ve brought more new solar online in 2012 than in the three prior years combined," SEIA head Rhone Resch said in a statement. "And every one of these panels was bolted down by a member of the U.S. workforce." Continue reading

Vodacom shows off its solar rooftop – the largest in Africa

Engineering News 6 March 2013.

Vodacom has unveiled the largest ever array of solar panels on a single building in Africa.

The solar array, on the roof of its Century City building in Cape Town, comprises 2 127 solar panels and is expected to provide up to 75% of all electricity required by the building during peak production.

“Through this particular project, Vodacom aims to demonstrate that business can take the lead in promoting renewable-energy solutions and stimulate the green economy,” Vodacom chief officer of corporate affairs Maya Makanjee said during the unveiling in Cape Town on Tuesday…

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Vodacom shows off its solar rooftop – the largest in Africa

Vodacom has unveiled the largest ever array of solar panels on a single building in Africa.

The solar array, on the roof of its Century City building in Cape Town, comprises 2 127 solar panels and is expected to provide up to 75% of all electricity required by the building during peak production.

“Through this particular project, Vodacom aims to demonstrate that business can take the lead in promoting renewable-energy solutions and stimulate the green economy,” Vodacom chief officer of corporate affairs Maya Makanjee said during the unveiling in Cape Town on Tuesday.

The array is expected to offer a potential energy saving of about 895 MWh/y, which is equal to charging more than 70-million mobile phones a year. Continue reading

SA, Germany agree to enhance energy sector cooperation

Engineering News 22 February 2013.

The South African and German governments this week signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to enhance bilateral dialogue and practical cooperation in the energy sector through the establishment of an energy partnership.

The main objective of the energy partnership would be to improve and develop sustainable energy infrastructure, in particular through the increased use of renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency…

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Reducing the cost of electricity

South Africa could save up to R3.7-billion a year by completely changing to solar-powered energy-efficient light bulbs.

This is according to a report by the UN Environment Programme, which assessed what gains could be achieved by 80 countries should they shift to solar-powered alternatives.

Should South Africa change over, the country would be able to repay the conversion costs in nine months.

Eskom produces most of the country’s power. It is at present building two major coal-fired power plants – Medupi, in Lephalale, and Kusile, near Witbank – as part of its plans to double the country’s power generation capacity by 2026.

According to the UN report, the country could reduce its energy production costs from R13.17-billion to R8.9-billion. Continue reading