Tag Archives: wind energy

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,


Renewable green power sources

It’s electric! You can check how much of your electricity comes from renewable “green” power sources, such as wind or solar. Green power produces less carbon emissions, reduces air pollution, and helps protect against future costs or scarcity of fossil fuels. If green power is a consumer option, check price differences from suppliers before you buy.

Source: epa.gov