Category: Energy

Solar power strides ahead in South Africa’s Northern Cape province

A few years ago, there was not much interest in solar technology in South Africa. Today, businesses and government increasingly regard it as a cost-effective alternative energy generator with huge potential to help deliver lower-cost energy, encourage job creation and stimulate local economies, according to Gareth Warner, MD of Solarcentury Africa
“By 2030, installed solar energy capacity is expected to reach over 8,400MW. Government has signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) for over 1,450 MW from solar photovoltaic (PV) projects,” he said.
Warner says South Africa’s climate is ideal for solar. “Most areas in the country average more than 2,500 hours of sunshine per year, among the highest in the world, thanks to its sub- equatorial position. The more light the panels receive, the more electricity they generate – but they work on cloudy days too.”
He says solar is growing in popularity given the rising electricity costs.
“While there is an initial outlay cost, it can be recouped after five to eight years on average. That’s an attractive internal rate of return (IRR) especially considering solar electricity is free after the initial payback period,” Warner stated.

The Jasper Photovoltaic solar energy project
All commercial operations on the 96MW Jasper Solar Power Project, Northern Cape, South Africa, were completed in October 2014.
This was recently announced by SolarReserve, a global developer of solar power projects and solar thermal technology.
The project is near Kimberley and produces 180,000MW-hours of energy annually for the country – enough to power up to 80,000 homes.
The consortium that led the development of the project included Intikon Energy, the Kensani Group, Rand Merchant Bank and Google. This was Google’s first clean energy investment in Africa.
The fully operational photovoltaic (PV) facility plays a part in helping South Africa meet its renewable energy targets, in addition to stimulating long-term economic development and creating new jobs.
In 2011, SolarReserve joined local investors and developers to develop large-scale photovoltaic solar energy projects.
The Jasper Power Project was awarded by the South Africa Department of Energy in the second round of bidding under South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).
Jasper began full construction on site in October 2013, and achieved full commercial operations a year later.
Benefits of the project include clean, zero-emission solar energy, direct and indirect employment, and the fact that 45% of the total project value is local content spend.
Another benefit is preferential procurement – 60% of the local content is with black economic empowerment providers.
Over R2billion (more than $18 billion) will be spent on operations and maintenance costs during the 20-plus years’ operating life-span.

Using solar power to connect South African schools to the internet
Earlier this year, a pioneering school project in South Africa’s Gauteng Province harnessed the latest renewable energy technologies. The school connects teachers and pupils to the internet, bringing them into the digital age while using renewable energy.
Solar-powered internet schools can improve facilities and help attract skilled educators, making a huge difference to the lives of young people, according to website.
The solar-powered internet school at Jiyana Secondary School in Tembisa is supported by Anglo American’s Kumba
Iron Ore.
Kumba supplies iron ore to the global steel industry.
Last year, Kumba set aside an overall education and training budget of R34.8m ($3.1m). Almost half of that amount was directed towards pre-primary and primary schools to improve facilities and help attract skilled and committed educators.
The solar powered internet schools are designed for isolated and remote areas with limited or no access to electricity.
The Jiyana Secondary School project includes a bio-digester which produces gas to be used for cooking by the school.
The project also includes a waste recycling station, a revamp of existing buildings and a tennis court-sized vegetable garden to help provide food for the pupils and staff.
The vegetable garden is expected to ensure a continued supply of organic waste into the bio-digester, giving the school a sustainable energy source.
“We are planning to support three more solar-powered internet schools in the Tsantsabane and John Taolo Gaetsewe municipalities in the Northern Cape province and the Thabazimbi local municipality in Limpopo,” Anglo American said in a statement.
The company said the communities have limited access to education and the internet.
“We believe that this project can positively transform the lives of young people, connecting them with the modern world.”
Yvonne Mfolo, Kumba’s head of public affairs, said: “We recognise the enormous responsibility to contribute to the wellbeing and prosperity of the communities in which we operate. As education is one of our focus areas, we believe that our clean energy initiatives at schools will have a higher impact, by improving the students’ performance.”
She said the company could be a developmental partner with the communities in which it operates. “This involves taking full account of the needs, priorities and aspirations of the people in the communities, ensuring that we fully understand and take on board their suggestions and feedback. It is through working in partnership that we are able to deliver projects such as these,,” she said.
Quick Facts about the Jasper Plant
•    96 MW-DC installed capacity;     75 MW-AC net generation
•    182,000 MW-hours generated annually
•    2nd Round of REIPPP
•    45% of total project value local content spend
•    325,480 PV modules
•    80,000 homes powered

Safe handling of biomass materials with Spiroflow

Despite the recent hike in gas and electricity prices, fuelling the growing debate over the cost of green energy to the consumer, the drive towards environmentally-friendly power stations seems set to continue, with biomass-fired plants playing a key role in the switch from coal. Energy companies see biomass as an alternative source of clean fuel that will help meet carbon reduction targets. However, the movement of biomass within power stations and factory environments requires high-quality conveying systems that meet statutory requirements for the safe and dust-free distribution of potentially hazardous materials.
Wood chip, sawdust, pellets and shavings are not easy to handle, they do not all flow freely and can be combustible. As with any potentially combustible component, stringent safety regulations are in place to eliminate or control the risks from explosive atmospheres in the workplace.
Spiroflow Ltd is a world-leading manufacturer of ATEX approved conveying and bulk handling systems that meet regulatory requirements for distributing potentially combustible materials using safe, dust-free and cost-effective methods.
Although ultimately it is the responsibility of biomass processors and power plants to ensure that the workplace is safe, Spiroflow is well aware of the potential dangers that can arise due to dusty atmospheres, and is quick to point out that the key safety ethos for all conveying, handling and weighing equipment should be explosion prevention.
Materials such as wood pellets and wood chips are also quite fragile and need totally secure handling as they can easily degrade over long distances and complicated factory routes. Spiroflow’s ATEX compliant conveyors, bulk bag dischargers and fillers incorporate flow promotion devices to aid the movement of difficult materials with almost negligible degradation.
The company’s tubular drag conveyor, for example, offers total dust free handling and movement of products over distances of three to 60 metres at rates of up 120 tonnes per hour – depending on material and density – efficiently, cleanly and without the need for an air filtration system. Over the years this system has proven to be the most cost-effective method for conveying difficult and temperature-sensitive materials.
It provides complete batch transfer of bulk products from single or multiple in-feed points to single or multiple discharge points, making it ideal for a wide range of materials.
Steve Taylor, Senior Applications Engineer at Spiroflow explained: “Our ATEX compliant tubular drag conveyor meets the strict regulatory demands for conveying biomass materials. Our knowledge of all the hazards associated with conveying potentially combustible materials is second to none.”
Spiroflow manufactures a range of Flexible Screw Conveyors, Aero Mechanical Conveyors, Tubular Cable and Chain Drag Conveyors, Vacuum Conveyors, Bulk Bag Dischargers, Bulk Bag Fillers, Ingredients Handling and Weighing Systems. The company’s technical and engineering expertise has led to it developing an international reputation for an unrivalled range of products with state-of-the-art control systems.

The Power of Wind Energy

Energy efficiency is becoming a vital factor to reduce carbon emissions and decrease dependency on fossil fuels. Solar and wind energy for small to medium energy demands of consumers or businesses can help reduce pressure on South Africa’s national
power grid.

Clean lighting and its impact on children

According to a recent study, the use of solar-based lighting through SunnyMoney, instead of kerosene lamps, proves beneficial to children, dealers and the broader community. The World Bank reports that Africa has the lowest electrification rate of all global regions at only 26% of households (and an even lower rate of 14.2% in rural sub-Saharan Africa).

Food processing companies should consider biogas

Depending on how high electricity tariffs are in a particular country, it is often economical for food processing companies to consider biogas installations, according to Andrew Taylor, MD of Cape Advanced Engineering (CAE) of South Africa – and particularly to ensure continuity of supply. 


First pure ethanol buses in Africa

FPA_Aug_EnergyIn the next step, it is envisaged that 20 further buses might be commissioned in Johannesburg.

Other municipalities in South Africa are likely to start adopting this technology soon as well – because it supports local employment and production, and is no less cost-effective than diesel (which is derived from imported oil).
The same could be done in many other African countries – both for public transport and for commercial trucks.
All of the ethanol being supplied for the envisaged ethanol-powered buses in South Africa is likely to come from Silversands Ethanol, which is based in Lichtenburg, North West Province.

Big jatropha biodiesel project (Malawi)

Bio-Energy Resources Ltd plans to invest $18 million in a jatropha biodiesel plant in the capital, Lilongwe.


Wind turbines for Africa

A South African company, Kestrel Wind Turbines, supplies small axial flux wind turbines which produce (in different models) between 600 watts and 3,000 watts of electricity.


Second-generation bio-ethanol technology

Second-generation technology to produce bio-ethanol from cellulosic material is now within a few years of viability, and companies which have large amounts of cellulosic material available (sugar and timber companies, and many others) should start planning for their possible beneficiation.


Water and energy ingredients for the foodbev industry

"Recovering wastewater to reuse it and creating power from organic rich effluent – using anaerobic digestion to produce methane – is no longer a concept but a reality, and is being increasingly viewed as a lucrative business decision," says Grahame Thompson, business development manager for Talbot Green Energy. He encourages food and beverage companies with the correct effluent character to investigate the potential for generating energy and recovering wastewater.

Green energy from Kenya

A Kenyan green technology firm has teamed up with Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology near Nairobi to develop biogas systems for cooking and provide cheap domestic electricity.

Cooking with fuel from human waste

A London design student has produced a new, closed-loop toilet management system that facilitates the recycling of human waste into cooking fuel.

Fuel from banana waste

Bananas are eaten raw, fried and baked; they are also used to produce banana beer and wine.

Eco-briquettes provide cheap fuel from waste

Students at University of Johannesburg, South Africa, have developed a viable formula for the production of briquettes from waste material. The briquettes have fewer harmful emissions than coal and paraffin, but deliver similar energy for cooking purposes.

Simple sustainable energy solutions win Ashden awards

A simple treadle pump that has helped thousands of farmers in Eastern India out of poverty was voted Outstanding Achievement of the 2009 Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy.

Solar home system

The Solar Energy Foundation won the Ashden Award for electrification of rural areas with a small solar home system (SHS), powered using a photovoltaic module, to supply electricity for lighting and small appliances and replace kerosene lamps.

Efficient stove – Ashden’s Energy Champion

The Aprovecho Research Center of the US and Shenghou Stove Manufacturers of China have designed a cheap, robust and efficient stove which is mass-produced and sold in developing countries.

Biomass briquettes

Kampala Jellitone Suppliers of Uganda, supported by the Waterloo Foundation, won the award for Avoided Deforestation for producing non-char biomass briquettes made from agricultural waste. 130t of briquettes sold every month reduce deforestation and save about 6.1t of CO2 per ton of briquettes used.


Wind and sun combined for alternative energy

fpa-wind1.jpgA German engineer has come up with innovative technology that combines solar and wind power generation in a single unit.

European markets for African biodiesel

A major South African biodiesel development based on extraction from canola, which will be exported to Europe, could point the way to biodiesel grow-and-extract projects using other oilseeds throughout Africa.


Think carbon credits for projects!

fpasoutpolecarbonkornikjon.jpgWhen a project promoter in Africa is considering and researching a project, he/she should stop and think whether there is any way the project can be adjusted to be more environmentally-friendly and capture or prevent greenhouse gas emissions – in order to earn increasingly-lucrative, and increasingly-traded, carbon credits in foreign currency.


South African-made biodiesel equipment

fpabiodieselcentremdplant.jpgBiodiesel Centre in Bellville, Western Cape, founded by Neville Murray, is probably the leading supplier of biodiesel fuel in South Africa currently. It also supplies equipment for biodiesel production and is looking for partners in biodiesel projects in the rest of Africa.

The Kyoto Protocol …

The Kyoto Protocol basically splits the world into two categories: developed countries and developing countries.
Developed countries which are signatories have committed to targets of carbon reduction which they are obliged to meet by law. 

Boilers for you to generate power

Perhaps 80% of small and medium food manufacturing facilities burn coal or liquid fuel in their boilers and perhaps 80% of these facilities have boilers which have excess pressure on their steam and go to a pressure reducer; or they have stand-by boilers and therefore have that excess capacity.

Biogas for electricity

The use of boilers is the most obvious cogeneration scheme which food/beverage processors might think about. However, biogas converters are another possibility – in which an agrifood business’s organic-rich effluent or waste is converted via anaerobic digestion to methane for use in burners and generators, etc