Tag Archives: solar energy

SA transforming into a renewable energy hub

South Africa is quickly becoming a favored renewable energy investment place to go for both private and public sector investors – best news for the country’s escalating electricity requirements, emerging clean energy sector and the overall economy.

The World Bank not too long ago authorized a $250-million (R1.5- billion) loan to South African power utility Eskom in order to develop a wind and solar plant, that can assist the nation to lower its reliance on coal-based power generation.

The World Bank, which approved the financing via its Clean Technology Fund, will finance a 100-megawatt solar power plant in Upington in the Northern Cape province as well as a 100-megawatt wind power project north of Cape Town in the Western Cape.




Leading clean energy projects in Africa

The financial loan will make it possible for Eskom to construct two of the biggest renewable energy projects ever tried on the African continent.

Ebrahim Khan from Wesgro, the Western Cape Investment and Trade Promotion Agency, welcomed the World Bank’s investment into the renewable energy sector.

“These investment strategies are a breath of fresh air and it demonstrates that South Africa is no longer just talking about renewable energy,” Khan said.

“The best part about it for South Africa is the fact that there are serious goals and objectives to get our energy mix right and there are definitely more renewable energy power projects in the pipeline which are to be backed by private investors,” he added.




Key investment areas

He said that the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Northern Cape Provinces have already been identified as the key regions to create renewable energy plants, in particular wind and solar.

“Many individuals don’t are aware that the Northern area of the Western Cape has higher irradiation compared to best locations in Spain and the State of California,” he explained.

In the Western Cape, financial investment is predominantly into wind and photovoltaic (PV) solar power. PV solar-power generation transforms solar radiation to electricity as a result of static panels.

He said that photovoltaics is the primary type of solar technology which is used widely on a commercial scale in other regions around the world.

The Northern Cape has been recognized as the most effective area for concentrated solar power (CSP) technology, which makes use of mirrors or lenses to concentrate a significant area of sunlight, or solar thermal energy onto a small area, typically with rotating panels.


Wesgro estimates that about 40% to 50% of the 1 850 wind technology projects and 30% to 40% of the 1 450 PV projects will come to the Western Cape.

As outlined by Wesgro, wind resources in the Western Cape are significant and possibly the best in the country.

“We are going for renewable energy in a big way,” he said.

Khan stated that South Africa possesses the potential to turn into a major player in the clean energy sector, with considerable interest being displayed by investors during the past couple of months.

Wesgro in addition has hosted many delegations who would like to be involved in the renewable energy sector. “The majority of of these companies are big players,” he said.

Scientific studies are still under way into ocean and wave technology, which could also be employed to generate energy.

“There are universities in the province which have been working on innovations with ocean and wave technologies, however the models have not been completely figured out yet,” Khan added.



Construction to start in 2012

Eskom is in the process of building and upgrading established coal-fired power plants in order to meet South Africa’s immediate energy needs, however it would like to broaden the energy mix toward cleaner sources of energy.

A year ago the World Bank received criticism for approving a $3.75-billion (R29.3 billion) loan for the creation of a coal-fired plant in South Africa, but Eskom explained the project was required to address the country’s chronic power shortages.

Eskom anticipates that the construction of the 100-megawatt wind power project north of Cape Town will commence at the start of 2012.


Possibilities for manufacturing

Khan stated that there are excellent possibilities to set up a manufacturing sector focused entirely on parts and components for the renewable energy sector.

In the wind energy sector, European companies have already been searching for suitable sites to set up plants to manufacture components including blades for wind turbines, because they are incredibly cumbersome to transport.

Wind power company Isivunguvungu Wind Energy Converter (I-WEC) has identified Cape Town as its base to produce Africa’s first multi-megawatt wind turbines.

Cape Business News reports that a large 42-ton mould, which a short while ago arrived at Table Bay Harbour from China, will be utilized to manufacture 50m-long rotor blades for the 2.5MW turbines. This surpasses the span of an Airbus wing.



The company intends to commence production on its first turbine right away, in time to set up the final product in Saldanha, northwest of Cape Town, early next year.

As outlined by I-WEC, the new 2.5MW turbines are nearly twice the size and capacity of the 1.3MW turbines currently utilized in South Africa.

Each turbine has the ability to supply enough electrical power to run approximately 2 000 average South African households for a year.

I-WEC is in addition the very first South African and African company that can manufacture the multi-megawatt wind turbines locally, making use of local labour. Up to 70% of the turbines’ components are going to be produced in South Africa.

Source: mediaclubsouthafrica.com


IDC ploughs billions into South African economy

The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has dedicated R25 billion to innovative opportunities within the country’s green economy over the up coming five years.

The statement was made by Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel in Parliament.

While addressing the National Assembly, Patel stated that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is going to declare additional monetary commitments which will be presented in the Budget to encourage business opportunities within this sector.

“We already have commenced with installation of solar water geysers in brand new low-cost households and to date, already have 25 000 units set up by way of a joint venture that also includes the IDC,” explained Patel.

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel

“Together with an additional 170 000 units scheduled, this specific undertaking is going to play a role in employment creation along with strengthening the local manufacturing of components as we plan to enhance the sourcing of components to at the very least 85% local content in the near future.”

At the same time, Patel claims the New Growth Path is likely to expand the overall economy by way of improving infrastructure investments on a variety of projects, vamping up the agro-processing and farming market sectors, and taking advantage of trillions spent on the African continent – all in order to generate a great deal more work opportunities.

Aside from that, the IDC is going to make available R5 billion in funding over the up coming five years for the agro-processing sector.

The development finance institution has additionally been requested to examine its financial loans application procedures – particularly, extensive amounts of time it takes in order to grant finance to entrepreneurs as well as the cost of finance.


Jacob Zuma, Ebrahim Patel and Pravin Gordhan

Government is additionally focusing on a one-of-a-kind project, that might be a catalyst for thousands of jobs.

“We happen to be working on a venture to create the world’s very first integrated metals plant beneficiating titanium, zirconium, vanadium, magnesium and silicone. Should it be verified by way of the feasibility study being carried out, it is going to require a R15 billion financial commitment and can also generate in excess of 7 000 work opportunities in construction in addition to the operation of the plant,” said Minister Patel.

Patel’s department would definitely in addition seriously look into reducing bureaucracy in addition to assisting businesses within the informal economy, by among other things, combining the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) – which gives business help and support to entrepreneurs – with small business funding agencies to create a single organization that can assist small businesses.

A brand new direct small business funding programme is going to be rolled out, with information and facts to be publicised in he upcoming weeks, Patel pointed out.


The DA’s Athol Trollip stated the party welcomed the R9 billion job opportunities fund, along with the R20 billion in tax breaks in order to incentivise investment within the manufacturing sector, revealed by President Jacob Zuma in the State of Nation Address.

Trollip, however, suggested similar tax breaks really should be extended to small and medium-sized businesses.

He pointed out that former president Thabo Mbeki made a variety of promises to assisting small business owners in the 2006 State of the Nation address – commitments that had been remarked upon by Zuma in his State of the Nation Address.

Trollip said he was hoping the New Growth Path will be adapted to the National Planning Commission’s conclusions regarding how to minimize poverty and create viable and practical economic options available for South Africans.

He called on the President to additionally create completely new innovative solutions, green industries, and additionally take action against climate change.

Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota pointed out it seemed to be “exciting” to hear of the billions earmarked by the government to promote job creation, however he appeared to be apprehensive that President Jacob Zuma did not provide “practical steps” regarding how these amounts will likely be utilized.

Lekota believed the increase of tenderpreneurs was really a “catastrophe” for South Africa: “Job creation can be described as function of entrepreneurship. There have been tenderpreneurs created, not entrepreneurs.”

He explained a lot more effort and hard work would have to be taken in educating and training skilled people who run businesses regarding how to obtain tenders.

Lekota said while civil servants would certainly continually be safe with monthly salaries, business owners had to be successful with contracts in order to place food on the table.

He explained there are clearly lessons to be learned from other countries – such as Japan – which accomplished economic growth as a result of technological innovation and know-how following on from the devastation of that country after World War Two.

Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthulezi mentioned the country should become serious with regards to taking on job creation, by way of a collaboration between political parties.


Source: BuaNews, thedailymaverick.co.za, thenewage.co.za, ecoinstitution.com,


R500m approved for solar water heaters

The Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality has recently agreed upon a sum of R500 million to install low pressure solar water heaters to homeowners that have already reaped the benefit as a result of government’s low cost housing programme.

The three-year roll out programme will most likely commence in the first quarter of this year and is particularly geared towards bringing down poverty levels by dramatically assisting homeowners save money on energy expenses, as well as at the same time leading to the lowering of carbon emissions.

Ekurhuleni executive mayor, Mondli Gungubele stated the particular programme was in fact an element of the National Solar Water Heating programme, unveiled in April this past year to have one million solar-water heaters placed in households throughout South Africa by 2014.

“The actual roll out of low pressure solar water heaters to low cost homeowners speaks to the core of our initiatives in order to save costs in respect most typically associated with the buying of electricity, as a consequence do something about poverty and underdevelopment,” said Gungubele.

Mayor of Ekurhuleni Municipality Mondli Gungubele

Simply by attempting to reach the 2014 intended target, Gungubele explained he was in fact self-assured and confident this will certainly greatly assist when it comes to achieving an additional national target of making sure that by 2013, 10 000 gigawatt-hours of final energy usage is supplied as a result of renewable energy.

The individuals and their families to reap the benefits because of the programme are in Daveyton, Etwatwa, Duduza, Kwa-Thema and Tsakane.

“Through process of moving over to solar water heating, every one of the houses within these regions could easily significantly help in reducing carbon emissions, a 150-litre solar-water heater, which is certainly sufficient for two to three people, can help to conserve 4.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity per day, and also 1.6 tons of carbon dioxide,” he was quoted saying.

At the same time, Gungubele stated that the metro is going to be placing a great deal more effort and hard work to bringing down the 121 000 number of households within proclaimed areas, that happen to be without electricity.

“All of us really should try to speed up the entire process of getting most of these households connected. This predicament necessitates that we operate differently and smarter,” he said.

The main focus areas include Palmridge Phase 2, Tinasonke, Eden Park, Extension 4 and Esselen Park.

Source: BuaNews


SA and Chinese firms put money into eco-friendly electric power

Cape Town-based Mulilo Renewable Energy has partnered with a number of Chinese businesses to take advantage of the increased interest in alternative energy in South Africa by developing generation capacity coming from wind and solar powered energy sources.

Mulilo Renewable Energy (MRE) was formed by a group of globally recognised South African businessmen, and their partners envisage investing approximately R15-billion when it comes to alternative energy projects in the country over the next few years.

Apart from its technological know-how partners, MRE has a direct financing partner, the China-Africa Development Fund, which is able to underwrite virtually any project endorsed by MRE.

Long-term commitment and financial commitment

MRE is working with China’s Long Yuan Corporation in order to develop six wind farm projects that will be in a position to generate an output of 1 500 megawatts. Construction at one such facility, planned for De Aar in the Northern Cape, is scheduled to start in March 2011, with an estimated completion date in June 2012 of the first phase.

Long Yuan’s parent company, the Guodian Corporation, has made a long-term commitment to South Africa, and also plans to build a state-of-the-art wind turbine assembly plant in addition to a blade manufacturing facility in the Western Cape.

Both of these facilities would likely create more than 1 500 “environmentally friendly” jobs, and also would service South Africa’s fledgling wind power industry and as well those of other African economies.

Chinese employees will also to begin with comprise less than 5 % of the overall workforce, and this figure will be reduce as South Africans acquire experience in the development, operation and maintenance of wind farm projects.

The Guodian Corporation (Guodian stands for “state power” in Mandarin) is a major state-owned business enterprise that is focused on electric power generation adn technology. With a capacity of 85 000 MW, it is double the size of South Africa’s Eskom, and also includes nuclear, hydro-electrical and coal-fired power stations.

Testing solar modules

The organization has additionally been constructing a solar energy farm making use of technology and know-how offered by one of China’s top three photovoltaic cell producers, Yingli Solar, from the town of Copperton.

Residents from the small town, some 60km north of Prieska in the Northern Cape, experienced a taste of things to come when solar energy was delivered free to their local community hall and church in May this year.

The location was chosen as a possible area to test the particular solar modules in harsh South African conditions, and the generated electric power is going to benefit the 600 homeowners of the town which experts state survives on a small agricultural industry.

“This small location had been initially constructed as a mining town, but since the operations shut down, it’s been a difficult struggle for the residents,” said MRE director Johnny Cullum during the time. “This starting point, although it will benefit only a small number of people at this time, represents our broad-ranging solar power and wind energy initiative for the whole country.”

The China-Africa Development Fund was set up in June 2007, and now has access to several billion dollars made available from the China Development Bank. This equity investment fund is designed to help Chinese businesses to develop cooperative investment strategies with Africa and to gain entry to the African marketplace.

Source: southafrica.info, alternative-energy-news.info, finfacts.com, wyomingenergynews.com, treehugger.com, ecvv.com, cleanergreenerchina.com, inverter-china.com


Robben Island Green Pilot Project will Lead SA into Sustainable Future

The South African National Energy Research Institute (Saneri) and the Department of Energy (DoE) have launched a pilot project aimed at turning Robben Island into a self-sufficient community that runs on green energy.

By using a hybrid approach to power generation, the Greening of Robben Island project will reduce the demand on the island’s infrastructures and its dependence on fossil fuels.

In 1999 Robben Island was inscribed on Unesco’s list of world heritage sites. As such it holds distinct historical meaning for South Africa and is a popular tourist destination.

Initially it served as a training and defence station during the Second World War. Later it was a place of quarantine for those suffering from leprosy, and in 1961 it became a penal colony for political prisoners.

Now it is to become the model for self-sustaining communities in South Africa and the Southern African region.

In Saneri’s 2009/10 annual report, the organisation’s CEO Kadri Nassiep described the Greening of Robben Island as a flagship project for Saneri, and one that is expected to thrust the island into a position of energy leadership for other South African communities, especially those which have limited or no access to the national grid.

Nassiep hopes to be able to reveal some of the technology in time for the 2013 meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cape Town.

Renewable energy sources

The Robben Island team is investigating the development of micro-hydroelectric, biomass, wind, solar and possibly wave technologies, with a view to rolling them out in other parts of the country where appropriate. The team hopes to begin infrastructure installation during 2011, although the time frame is dependent on funding.

Despite an earlier political hiccup which resulted in temporary suspension of the project, it is now going ahead, according to senior manager Derek Batte of the DoE.

The project is expected to produce about 600KW from its various energy sources, which will replace the two diesel generators that currently power the island, resulting in an expected monthly saving of around R450 000 (US$64 500).

A smart grid, currently in development at the University of Cape Town, will coordinate energy generation from the various sources and manage its distribution. All houses and buildings are to be fitted with energy efficiency technology, including solar water heating.

The notorious Western Cape wind will be harnessed not by conventional wind turbines, but by vortex turbines, which, according to an October 2010 Financial Mail report, are smaller, less intrusive and operate without masts and rotors.

Hydropower is used for desalination and for the production of energy. Micro-hydropower installations are capable of providing power to a small community and are found around the world. They provide an economical resource without the need to buy fuel and in many instances, complement photovoltaic systems when solar energy is diminished.

The clearing of alien vegetation, bush encroachment and certain grasses, as well as household waste, will provide the biomass which in turn will power biogas generation. This takes place in an anaerobic digester and produces a combination of methane and carbon dioxide, which can then be used for heating and cooking, as a fuel source, or to drive an energy-generating turbine.

Projects such as these are undertaken in many parts of the world and on different scales. According to Batte, South Africa can play a major role in this development space.

A virtual model of the island is available on the Robben Island Museum website and those interested will be able to follow the project’s progress online from April 2011. The website will also provide real-time energy generation figures.

Optimal energy consumption

The Robben Island project falls under the Working for Energy programme, presented by former finance minister Trevor Manuel in his 2008/9 budget vote.

This is a joint project involving the DoE and Saneri, a body established in 2004 under the guidance of the Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Energy. Saneri is a subsidiary of the parastatal Central Energy Fund.

Starting with a modest budget of R5-million ($717 000) in 2009/10, Working for Energy was developed to use and distribute potential hybrid, renewable and alternative energy technologies in an effort to cut down on fossil fuels, generate more power for South African communities, and reduce associated costs.

The project’s budget for 2011/12 is a more substantial R25-million ($3.6-million) and signifies the government’s commitment to developing South Africa’s clean energy industry.

It mirrors the successful job creation concept of other environmental initiatives such as Working for Water, Working for Wetlands and Working for Fire. Job creation is sustained through use of labour-intensive practices, helping to boost skills transfer and develop local economies and capacity.

Source: mediaclubsouthafrica.com, figo2009.org.za,  thefinalthird.com, picafric.com, penguins.neaq.org,