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Renewable energy: what has Africa accomplished thus far?

Guest letter by Sisa Njikelana, chairperson of the South African Independent Power Producers Association (SAIPPA).

Besides biomass and wind, which date deep into human history, renewable energy has always been viewed as an alternate power source, but it was only in the 1970s that it took a formidable shape – with Africa trailing behind.

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Finance and investments are amongst the vital arsenal for further rollout of renewables. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) corroborates that Africa needs US$20 billion per year to achieve universal electricity access by 2030; such comprises 60% of the global demand. Unfortunately KPMG argues that the “biggest challenge in most countries of the [African] region has been the subsidised tariff structures for electricity”, which raises the risk of disincentive for new private investment.

Other latest developments, through innovative technologies (e.g. power storage, plug-and-play off-grid solutions), are viewed as additional arsenal notwithstanding their disruptive nature. At the recent African Utility Week, one expert contended that power storage has better prospects and will benefit Africa – excluding South Africa. Since Africa is power hungry it is therefore worth exploring various technologies, which are based on each country’s resources, e.g. South Africa and Zimbabwe are endowed with platinum that is essential for the hydrogen fuel cell.

Skills demand is ever increasing whilst the rate of training is lagging behind. Forbes research projects the growth of Wind Turbine Service Technicians’ occupations in the USA at 108% (from 4,400 in 2014 to 9,200 in 2024). According to SARETEC, Europe has a shortfall of about 2,500 of the same technicians and South Africa has had to import such skills.

The evolving electricity market in Africa has been characterised by policy inconsistencies, costly and painful delays, regulatory conflicts, unclear regulatory independence, and price based regulation that can be restrictive if not anchored in intensive and extensive consultation. Worth noting is that development of policy, legislation and regulation is lagging behind the rate of reforms in the power market.

Clear, consistent, transparent, and enabling regulations – whether in a highly regulated, liberalised or hybrid markets – are almost non-negotiable to attract meaningful foreign direct and/or local investments in power generation. Furthermore, the debate around whether large- or small-scale is the best route to take cannot be conclusive unless extensive studies and intensive debate or consultation takes place.

An exemplary testimony of growth in renewables, Sarah Odera’s MSc Dissertation (University of Cape Town) asserts that: “Kenya does not have any solar power generation at a utility scale. It does however have a developed solar PV market on a residential and institutional scale. The LCPDP (Least Cost Power Development Plan – like the South African IRP), 2010 estimated that there are 200,000 solar home systems installed in Kenya whilst Hansen et al, 2014 and Ondraczek, 2014 estimate the number to be 320,000 in 2010.”

Furthermore, the innovations on micro- and off-grid systems are growing; however, we need to be mindful of challenges of technology rivalry, which are not about to ebb or become overt notwithstanding their detrimental effect. At this stage, the harm by such may not be that obvious.

Despite the prospects and challenges highlighted above, the potential for energy-mixed power generation, including renewables, in Africa is enormous. McKinseys and Company claim in its 2015 report that “over the past 20 years, private capacity in sub-Saharan Africa has doubled every five years, with 50 percent of total IPP capacity added to the grid since 2009 alone.” However there is lamentation that the 6,00MW of IPP power added is insignificant compared to total need for 600 million inhabitants without electricity. The claim further extends to “project that sub-Saharan Africa will consume nearly 1,600 terawatt hours by 2040, four times what was used in 2010.”

Given this high demand and growing keenness by African governments to allow private sector participation, what is left is for the authorities to work hand-in-hand with business to ensure a more conducive environment for increased investment in renewables.
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Accelerating Access to Sustainable Electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa

Claire Henly and Kelly Carlin describe how the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is creating access to sustainable electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa — and challenges that stand in the way.A team from Rocky Mountain Institute is working in sub-Saharan Africa to address barriers to sustainable electricity access. Since September of last year, we have been working with an African government to find ways to achieve ambitious electricity access targets using a combination of on- and off-grid resources. Although providing sustainable, affordable electricity access in the developing world is fraught with challenges, many of the lessons we’ve learned are cause for optimism and are applicable to other developing countries.

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THE RURAL ELECTRIFICATION OPPORTUNITY

The rewards for both human and economic development are enormous, and easy to see. Standing on a narrow, red-dirt path, we’re surrounded by small subsistence farms of banana trees and short, pale green bushes of coffee. Two small shops in this farming town are doing a bustling business—a rustic bar is serving banana beer to farmers coming in from a day of work and a small general store on the opposite side of the building is selling soaps, spices, light bulbs, and fertilizer to local women—many with babies wrapped against their backs with colorful cloth.

What’s remarkable about this scene is that here, in one of the poorest places in the world, where there is no electricity grid, a small energy-efficient television is playing in the bar and a small but powerful LED bulb lights the room. The general store now offers a mobile-phone charging service to people who don’t have electricity at home, and it will stay open after sunset, with its own pair of LED bulbs lighting the counter. A 100-watt solar panel is perched on the corrugated aluminum roof of the building, while inside, between the two businesses, a lithium-ion battery, charged from a typical day of sunshine, will provide power into the night. In the modest homes of farmers in the village nearby, a few families have similar, smaller solar-battery units providing cell phone charging and light by which they prepare food, work into the evening, and allow their children to study. In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa this level of service is comparable to—and complementary to—grid service, in that most grid-connected homes and business use electricity in a similar way.

But even at this modest scale, 68 percent of households in sub-Saharan Africa—or more than 600 million people—did not have access to electricity in 2013. In Asia, there are an additional 530 million people without access to electricity. Globally, there are 1.2 billion people without the power to light a bulb over a kitchen table, run a small grain mill, refrigerate food, or run a business after dark. That’s over 1 billion people who lack an essential ingredient for economic growth and social welfare improvement.

A CHANCE TO MITIGATE FUTURE CARBON EMISSIONS

Providing people with affordable, clean power is both a tremendous economic opportunity and a substantial opportunity to mitigate future carbon emissions. By 2040, sub-Saharan Africa is projected to consume 1,600 tWh of electricity, the equivalent of the combined 2013 consumptionof Latin America and the Caribbean, or the equivalent of the power produced by more than 600 large (500 MW) coal power plants. How quickly and cleanly sub-Saharan Africa reaches this level of electricity consumption depends on thoughtful on- and off-grid electricity planning.

ELECTRIFICATION CHALLENGES

Rapidly increasing access to electricity faces three challenges: developing country electricity systems are often plagued by high costs, off-grid market growth is progressing slowly, and there is a lack of complete and coordinated electricity planning across the public sector, the private sector, and the development partner community.

Grid electricity can be costly—In countries with few domestic natural-gas or coal resources, traditional electricity generation can be an expensive proposition. Without simple, cheap generation solutions, utilities often rely on expensive but dependable diesel generation. Even so, electricity blackouts can occur throughout the year, particularly during dry seasons when hydropower is less available.

Off-grid market growth is slow—A nascent off-grid electricity market is beginning to provide some people and businesses with reliable solar-plus-battery, solar-plus-diesel, and micro-hydro electricity, but the rate of uptake does not yet reflect the magnitude of the need.

Energy planning is incomplete and uncoordinated—There are some significant but resolvable problems with the business-as-usual approach to electricity planning in sub-Saharan Africa. First, few parties take a holistic view of the power sector when developing their approach to electricity development. Such a view of the power sector would consider all off-grid, centralized-generation and grid-extension, and demand-side resources in order to create an integrated electricity-access strategy. Second, there are multiple stakeholders with competing approaches, agendas, and interests who do not rally around a common strategy. This leads to confusion, limited effectiveness, poor deployment of investment and development dollars, and slowed impact. Finally, there may not be enough capacity in developing countries to evaluate, operate, and maintain the multitude of emerging energy resources, including off-grid resources.

EMERGING RECOMMENDATIONS

There are several concrete ways developing countries can address the three challenges of costly grid electricity, slow off-grid market growth, and a lack of coordination between on- and off-grid planning.

Costly grid electricity: While recommendations will be different for different countries, our experience thus far shows that even this small country can avoid many tens of millions of dollars per year in grid operation costs by doing three things:

  • Deploying aggressive, utility-led energy efficiency programs
  • Investing in solar-plus-diesel hybrid systems to replace the pure diesel rental systems currently on the grid
  • Prioritizing investment in transmission and distribution loss reduction and congestion reduction

Slow off-grid market growth: Governments can speed the growth of the off-grid market by launching a government supported, private sector-driven, off-grid electrification program that:

  • Addresses any affordability gap between off-grid products and the citizens who need them through financing or subsidy
  • Increases awareness of off-grid products and their use in areas of the country that will not be connected to the grid in the next five years by establishing a clear off-grid plan for the country and a national off-grid awareness campaign to educate consumers
  • Develops consistent and supportive policies for quality products, incentives, and imports
  • Supports scaling enablers, such as capital deployment and workforce training, by setting up effective debt facilities and education programs

Planning is incomplete and uncoordinated: On- and off-grid development should be considered together. Off-grid technologies and businesses are racing into emerging markets as the costs of solar and batteries drop. While many governments are eager to take advantage of the technology, few governments have national energy plans that take into account the value and costs of stand-alone solar home systems or minigrids. It is crucial that each government develop a complete plan that coordinates efforts and capacity across on- and off-grid electrification by:

  • Developing an on-grid integrated resource plan to harness new, lower-risk, and lower-cost technologies that also considers off-grid opportunities
  • Driving a coordinated off-grid program with clear roles and responsibilities for all players, including substantial and continuous involvement of the private sector
  • Avoiding distraction from new support that does not clearly fit into the plan

RMI’S PLANS FOR THE FUTURE

This spring, our work in our first sub-Saharan Africa country shifted from strategic planning to handing off implementation to partners on the ground. Along with ensuring a successful start to implementation there, we are looking to apply our approach in additional countries.

With any luck, the subtle changes visible in that rural village—light bulbs keeping general stores open later, televisions in bars, and families with a light to turn on in the evening—may soon not be so subtle. RMI will be there to help drive this change.

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Manufacturing industry under spotlight at Gauteng Economic Indaba

The manufacturing industry came under the spotlight at the Gauteng Economic Indaba on Thursday. Gauteng Premier David Makhura highlighted the importance of partnerships between government and the private sector in creating an economy which is sustainable and inclusive.

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Government announced that it is looking at creating manufacturing hubs to revive the struggling sector as well as other sectors of the economy.

The province of Gauteng has over the past number of years made a significant contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

In 2015, it contributed over 35% and is also a leader in driving Africa’s new industrial revolution.

The Indaba was held under the theme: “A Partnership for a Sustainable and Inclusive Economy”, and it came up with ways in which the Gauteng economy can be supported.

It unveiled the new economic development plan which is aimed at assisting to propel the province’s economy to greater heights.

Makhura says, “We need these partnerships in order to ensure that the township businesses don’t remain small and on the margins. They have to [be] part of the mainstream economy. The economy of South Africa and Gauteng remains challenged with the following structural challenges … is faced with.”

One of the speakers, Stefan Sakoschek, who is the regional director of the European Union’s EU Chamber of Commerce & Industry in Southern Africa, says unfair competition is killing the manufacturing sector.

The Premier also acknowledged the manufacturing sector, saying “We have a problem in South Africa. We have 7000 container arriving at the port of Durban. Out of the 7000 container, we have a market flooded with counterfeit goods competing unfairly with products from the EU.”

Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu agrees with Sakoschek and says there is a need to increase the support for locally produced goods.  “There is cost to localise and we must all localise and overtime there will be gains. There is a mind-set shift that we need to have going forward.”

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says government is looking at setting up manufacturing hubs to support the struggling sector. It has been shedding thousands of Jobs partly due high costs of electricity as well as cheaper imports out of China.

“We have seen how when government supports a particular sector of the economy, the automotive sector is proof of that. This country can really start to pump and emerge as one among the top in the world. Alongside this work we have made an undertaking to massively expand local procurement,” adds the Deputy President.

The indaba takes place at the time when the economy is struggling with the country narrowly escaping a downgrade by ratings agencies. The Government has appealed to all stakeholders to work together to ensure that more is done to support the ailing economy.

“We meet under very difficult economic conditions colleagues, as we work to overcome the dreadful legacy of apartheid we must confront the immediate challenges that have weakened global demand, that have lowered commodity prices, and the impact these have had on our economy. These are external factors. But we have our own internal factors which we have to deal with. We must contend with a number of challenges we have.”

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African Governments Urged to Shift Policy in the Energy Sector

African governments have been called upon to consider shifting policy in the energy sector by investing in industrialisation and providing subsidies on electricity for people in rural areas who are extremely poor.

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African Management Services Company (AMSCO) Chairperson Ali Mufuruki said governments should consider making a shift in policy for energy by providing subsidies for poor people to allow them to have access to energy.

Mufuruki proposed that government should consider powering their communities using renewable energy as it is an environmentally safe and easier to manage for people in remote areas as it is also readily available.

This was disclosed during a Wednesday panel discussion on the topic on green energy and innovation at the 2016 African Development Bank (AfDB) Annual Meetings at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka, Zambia.

“A lot of money is being wasted in budgets on rural electrification, which uses extensive infrastructure just to light up one village when those villages can use renewable energy as an alternative,” he said.

Mufuruki said some of the constraints impeding the progress of providing power to communities in Africa is the control of power utility companies by politicians.

He said most African leaders have a tendency to use power utility firms for their political ambition.

Mufuruki called on governments look at investing in green energy as it can lead to greater productivity on the African continent.

He said the move will help many countries move forward at a faster rate.

Carbon Africa Project Manager Carsten Jung said some of the constraints hindering the progress of powering Africa include the lack of bankable projects.

For his part, Jung called for the increase in bankable projects if Africa is to achieve its goals in the energy sector.

He lamented that many projects lack funding, as most of the funds get used up in the initial stages.

“Many projects in Africa fail because the implementation process takes too long. Some projects take more than eight years to be implemented and these cause a strain on the resources,” he said.

Jung called for efficiency in the provision of projects and also the need for projects to take off quickly.

He further called on African countries to take centre stage in managing the affairs surrounding energy and to have a sense of ownership in energy-related matter and projects.

“Policy drives investment,” he said, matter-of-factly.

He also said that there were a lot of gaps in the energy sector, which include lack of technological advancement, lack of resources and lack of industrialisation for energy use.

Consolidated Infrastructure Group Chief Investment Officer Diron Moore said renewable energy has the potential to provide power to Africa because it is cheaper.

Moore advised that African countries should look at the option of renewable energy and to open up pathways for investors to consider exploring the avenue.

He said some African countries are endowed with natural resources, such as coal. Investing in renewable energy was good, he said, because it is reliable and has reliable cash flows.

The gaps that have been identified in the energy sector in Africa should be used as an opportunity for stakeholders to invest in the sector, Moore continued.

Meanwhile, Michael Gera, Managing Partner of Energy Access Venture, lamented the mindset of people in rural areas who do not see the need for electricity.

“Some of these people live right under the grid and they do not care about being connected,” he said.

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Plans to integrate waste pickers into municipalities – Molewa

Cape Town – The Department of Environmental Affairs is planning to integrate South Africa’s waste pickers into the country’s municipal waste management programme, Minister Edna Molewa said in Parliament on Tuesday.

The country has about 62 147 registered waste pickers who remove recyclable material from landfill sites, she told MPs during a debate on the department’s budget of an estimated R6bn.

This year the department plans to help scale up waste recycling enterprises through a recycling enterprise support programme that would provide the initial capital set-up costs for emerging entrepreneurs.
Plans had also been put in place for the management and disbursement of funds through a Waste Management Bureau that would be fully operational in 2016, Molewa said.

In an effort to stop the dumping of hazardous waste, in the past financial year the department has issued 53 Remediation Orders for contaminated sites, and by the end of May hoped to have finally eradicated a backlog of 341 unlawful municipal landfill sites.

But the department still felt that waste management at municipal level was an issue and hoped that integrating the waste pickers into the municipal system would help.

But DA MP Johni Edwards questioned why South Africa was still creating landfill sites in the first place. She said that Sweden used its waste to produce heat and electricity and had no landfill sites left.

If the department was serious about reducing waste, it should start by banning plastic shopping bags and creating jobs through the manufacture of reusable bags instead.
“Why are we still using plastic bags in supermarkets? Why are we actually paying for something that is so harmful to our environment?”

Source: news24


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Kenya to strengthen private sector investment in geothermal energy

The Climate Investment Funds’ Clean Technology Fund (CTF) has approved a $29.65-million concessional loan to Kenya to cofinance up to two geothermal projects to increase the country’s power capacity, particularly drawing on untapped geothermal resources in the Rift Valley. The programme would be implemented with support from the African Development Bank (AfDB), with the geothermal projects to be structured as independent power producers (IPPs). The CTF for geothermal generation would build on the energy advancements already under way in the development of the country’s Menengai Geothermal Field.

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To create a sustainable energy future, Kenya’s government recognised that it needed to sustain a stable investment climate for private sector participation in the energy sector, expanding transmission and distribution networks to deliver power to customers, maintain cost-reflective tariffs and reduce inefficiency in the sector to support more affordable end-user tariffs.

A key government measure in this regard was to promote IPP schemes selected through international competitive bidding processes to enhance investment flows from the private sector into the power sector. AfDB CTF coordinator Joao Duarte Cunha noted that the infusion of capital would serve to build investor confidence and improve bankability of these resources.

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“The success of the IPPs developed in this programme can serve as a beacon for other countries looking to achieve similar green energy goals.” Transformation of the geothermal energy sector was a core part of Kenya’s economic growth plan for its expanding and increasingly urbanising population.

In its 2030 vision, the country identified energy and electricity as key elements of its economic transformation, with geothermal energy as the lead technology. It was estimated that by 2020, the country’s projected installed energy capacity would triple from 2 177 MW to 6 766 MW, with geothermal contributing around 2 000 MW.

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Huge cruise ships will worsen London air pollution, campaigners warn

Resident groups mounting a high court challenge to plans for a new wharf in Greenwich say diesel emissions from docked liners would breach legal limits.

Toxic fumes from large cruise liners powered by giant diesel engines will worsenLondon’s air pollution and could prevent the city from meeting its EU legal limits on deadly nitrogen oxide emissions, says resident groups opposing a new terminal.

Plans for a wharf in the Thames that would be able to handle 240 metre-long cruise liners carrying up to 1,800 passengers and 600 crew were approved by Greenwich council last July but are being challenged in the high court by residents.

Developers say that 55 liners a year, each weighing around 48,000 tonnes, would be expected to spend up to three days “hotelling” at Greenwich. Using their auxiliary diesel engines while moored, they would burn around 700 litres of diesel an hour for six months of the year in a borough considered a hot spot for air pollution.

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Consultants have calculated that each ship would emit the equivalent of 688 heavy lorries permanently running their engines at Enderby Wharf in Greenwich.

But larger ships, potentially the size of the 12-deck high Crystal Symphony, may also be allowed to moor at Enderby and would emit as many diesel fumes as 2,000 lorries a day, say objectors.

“On top of the ships the port will need tugs, hundreds of taxis and service vehicles all belching diesel close to high-density housing in an already heavily polluted area. I am aghast. Greenwich is already breaching EU limits. The council must know that 10,000 people a year die from diesel fumes a year in London,” said Ralph Hardwick, a campaigner from the Isle of Dogs.

“The alternative is to supply clean onshore power to the cruise vessels rather than running filthy diesel engines. Yet the current planning permission does not require a cleaner operation. Nor has a health feasibility study been undertaken,” said a spokesman for East Greenwich Residents Association.

A spokeswoman for London City cruise port declined to comment pending the legal challenge.

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The residents will argue in court that the council should have required the development to provide an onshore power supply for the ships. If so, the liners could turn their engines off while berthed. Instead, it accepted the developers’ argument that it was not “commercially viable”.

The legal challenge follows law firm ClientEarth taking the UK government to court for a second time over what it says are its repeated failures to tackle illegal levels of air pollution in London and other UK cities. Last year the supreme courtforced the government to rethink its plans to meet EU limits.

Concern about air pollution from cruise ships is growing as a new generation of mega-liners is commissioned and cruise holidays become more popular. The largest liners are now effectively floating cities, able to take 8,000 passengers and crew. Powered by some of the largest diesel engines in the world, they burn hundreds of tonnes of fuel a day.

“Air pollution emissions from ships are continuously growing, while land-based emissions are gradually coming down. If things are left as they are, by 2020 shipping will be the biggest single emitter of air pollution in Europe, even surpassing the emissions from all land-based sources together,” said a spokesman with Brussels-based Transport & Environment group.

Air pollution from international shipping accounts for around 50,000 premature deaths per year in Europe, at an annual cost to society of more than €58bn, according to studies.

In Southampton, one of nine UK towns and cities cited by the World Health Organisation as breaching air quality guidelines, up to five large liners a day can be berthed in the docks at the same time, all running engines 24/7, said Chris Hines, vice-chair of theSouthampton Western Docks Consultation Forum (WDCF).

Southampton is one of the world’s busiest ports for starting and ending sea cruises. “Pollution from the ships is leading to asthma and other chest diseases. The docks are the most polluted areas of Southampton. The pollution is getting worse. We are now getting more, bigger liners, but also very large bulk cargo ships,” said Hines.

Under EU law, ships must switch to their auxiliary engines and burn low-sulphur fuel within two hours of arriving in port until two hours before they leave. However, there are no regulations on how much NOx and particulate emissions they can emit.

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Low-sulphur fuel has greatly reduced SO2, or “acid rain” pollution but not other toxins like nitrogen oxides, benzene, toluene and formaldehyde which are emitted in diesel fuel and can have serious health impacts.

According to the Southampton city council scrutiny committee, admissions to hospital from lung, chest and heart diseases are most common from polluted areas like the docks.

According to evidence given to the commitee by WDCF, the cumulative effect of up to 20 or more ships in port at the same time, including many large cruise liners with large diesel engines, was a major concern to the public. Incidences of lung diseases in the city and hospital admissions for respiratory diseases linked to air pollution were much higher than the average in England, it was said.

Emissions can be reduced by 95% if ships and ports are adapted allow ships a shoreside electricity supply but this is resisted by the industry on grounds of practicality.

According to Royal Caribbean, one of the largest cruise line companies in the world, only six out of the 490 ports that their ships visit have shore power.

In evidence to the scrutiny committee, Royal Caribbean said: “If Southampton were to explore installing shore power, it would be important to note that ships may not come equipped to use it. The European Union has stated that emissions reductions of only 1-3% of emissions are seen during a seven-night cruise during which a ship could use shore power at every port on the itinerary.”

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No More Deonar Fires, These Mumbai Teens Invent Device to Convert Dry Waste into Electricity!

Four bright young minds in Thane, Mumbai, have come up with an idea to use dry waste to generate electricity. Instead of dumping dry waste into a garbage bin and filling up landfills, this novel idea makes use of domestic waste that every household in India produces, and turns it into a sustainable form of energy. And it can prevent mishaps like the Deonar dumping ground fires, too.

Aged between 10 and 13, the girls have devised an instrument with two parts that converts dry waste into electricity.

The bottom part of the instrument burns dry waste. The heat generated from this is used to move the turbines attached in the top-most part of the furnace. These turbines help in creating electricity.

The girls, Pooja Ramdas, Nikita Dhamapurkar, Jovila D’souza and Sharanya Bhamble spent two weeks figuring out the minute details, researching and experimenting. They were inspired by the working of a pressure cooker.

Sharanya Bhamble explains the eco-friendly process: it starts off with segregating dry and wet waste. While the dry waste is burnt in the furnace, the wet waste is used for composting.

“The toxic fumes produced in the process (of burning dry waste) are filtered, making it pure and released in the environment,” she said. “Meanwhile, we put seawater in the top part of the two-part-furnace, which turns into steam when the waste is burning. This steam is then released on a set of turbines which rotate and produce electricity in the process.”

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To test the device, the girls used a cycle pump to create air pressure. This generated enough electricity to light up the bulbs that were fixed to the device.

In Mumbai, about two-thirds of its solid waste that is dumped into landfills is illegal and beyond the capacity of the landfill.

Repeated dumping, with no waste segregation, caused the massive Deonar fires in the months of January and February this year. Smoke from these fires covered the areas surrounding the dumping ground, forcing schools and colleges to shut, and people to fall ill.

Most of the waste that ends up in landfills are actually biodegradable or fit to be converted into energy. With waste segregation and municipal body support, sustainable waste management isn’t difficult.

While on a macro-level, the municipal solid waste-to-energy process requires installation of biogas plants, on an individual level, devices such as the one invented by the students can help reduce the negative impact on the environment.

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Government’s plan for secure power generation ‘unfit for purpose’: report

Capacity Market scheme accused of making consumers pay conflicting subsidies for highly polluting plants.

A £2.8bn government scheme funded by energy bill payers which aims to keep the lights on in Britain has been condemned as wasteful, expensive and “unfit for purpose” in a damning report.

The claims from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) comes on the day that one of the UK’s biggest coal-fired power stations, Ferrybridge, formally closes, with several others threatening to follow.

There was also a new warning from a leading academic and adviser to energy regulator Ofgem that Britain’s electricity supply is facing “crunch time” this coming winter.

Under the Capacity Market scheme, more than £370m alone has been paid to coal plants that are simultaneously being hit by a higher carbon price floor, ensuring “consumers are hit by a double whammy, paying for two subsidies,” warns the IPPR.

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“The government rightly wants to secure the country’s power supply. But its primary mechanism for doing so is failing to meet any of the government’s own objectives. It is absurd that consumers are paying for subsidies to the most polluting forms of generation such as diesel and coal while in a separate policy also paying to discourage them,” said Byron Orme, IPPR research fellow and author of the report.

Orme believes a revamped scheme should not support the most polluting plants such as diesel generators, provide proper support for demand reduction schemes and halt support for existing nuclear reactors. “The Capacity Market needs fundamental reform if the lights are to be kept on at reasonable cost to households and businesses.”

The government has itself been changing the Capacity Market gradually in new efforts to incentivise energy companies to keep their electricity generation levels up amid the growing number of plant closures.

It said it was doing enough to ensure the lights were kept on. “We are clear that providing a secure supply of affordable energy for our families and businesses is non-negotiable,” said a spokesperson for the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

“The closure of Ferrybridge was announced last May, sometime before reforms to the Capacity Market were set out. These reforms will ensure that the Capacity Market remains fit for the purpose of securing our energy supply by bringing forward new power stations as older, less efficient, plants close.”

National Grid, which has the job of balancing power demand and supply, said it was continuing to monitor the situation with regard to next winter.

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Power company SSE confirmed the closure of the Ferrybridge coal-fired power station in Yorkshire but said that its Fiddlers Ferry plant in Cheshire might apply for subsidies on offer for 2016-17.

Last week the Longannet coal-fired power plant in Scotland ended production while the Rugeley facility in Staffordshire, operated by Engie of France, is scheduled to switch off this summer.

Michael Grubb, professor of energy and climate change policy at University College London and an adviser to Ofgem, said he believed the demand-supply margin was still very close.

“With the first backup under the capacity mechanism not in place until next year, this winter coming will be the crunch time for the UK’s electricity transition,” he said. “Yet despite the tight margins, extreme weather is still far more likely to cause any household disconnections than insufficient generating capacity.”

Paul Massara, former chief executive of the major energy supplier RWE npower, said that the closure of coal-fired power stations might have drastically narrowed the gap between demand and supply, but that they needed to go nonetheless.

“The phase-out of coal-fired power stations in the UK is a good thing, for a number of reasons. Coal hasn’t been paying its way for some time now, notably in terms of its impact on air pollution and the climate. The targets we face for keeping levels of global warming within ‘safe’ levels also mean that coal, as the most polluting of all fossil fuels, has to go as quickly as possible, not just here but across Europe,” he said.

Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace UK, said the ministers needed a rethink. “The UK government has taken the right approach by announcing a coal phase-out, but they forgot about the other half of the job. What Britain badly needs are clear, robust policies to drive more investment in clean energy and power-saving technologies.

“What we have instead is a random collection of pet projects, like the Hinkley nuclear reactor and fracking, that are going nowhere, with highly polluting diesel farms thrown in to plug the gap.”

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Source: theguardian


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World’s Largest Solar Glass Envelope To Supply Electricity At Copenhagen International School

Dubai-based Emirates Insolaire will supply about 12,000 solar glass panels to the Copenhagen International School in Denmark, boosting the facility’s production of clean electricity.

Emirates Insolaire produces and distributes colored solar glass and colored PV modules using what is called Kromatix technology. This technology allows solar PV to be integrated into the architectural design of all types of buildings, opening opportunities in terms for building aesthetics coupled with enhanced energy savings.

Demonstrate and sell product over three busy days

The company indicates it is expecting sales of 50,000 square meters of solar panels and 10,000 pieces of colored PV modules during 2016. The reason? This particular colored glass can enhance the effectiveness of solar panel.

“KromatixTM patented technology provides colored solar glass for both photovoltaic and thermal solar panels. The KromatixTM technology has been developed in close collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology [EPFL] and offers the only attractive alternative to the black and dark blue panels, without compromising on the performance, efficiency or architectural designs”

Construction for the school is now underway, with work expected to be completed in June. This project follows a memorandum of understanding signed between UAE and Denmark to boost cooperation in the fields of renewable energy and sustainability.

The solar glass system should produce about 300 MW/h per year, a total which is more than half of the school’s annual electricity consumption

In January this year, Emirates Insolaire presented its Kromatix colored solar panels and photovoltaic modules at the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) in Abu Dhabi. According to the manufacturer, Kromatix modules are capable of generating 170 to 190 watt per square meter for roof or 110 to 130 watt per square meter for facades.

Last year, Emirates Insolaire completed three colored solar installations:

  • 12 kW project on the façade of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology’s (EPFL’s) ELL building in Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 24 kW BIPV system in Basel, Switzerland
  • Solar thermal project in Satteins, Austria

Speaking with pv magazine, Rafic Hanbali said the completed projects demonstrate the advantages of the Emirates Insolaire’s BIPV solutions, such as less demand on horizontal required space.

“The same installed power would have required, if installed only on the ground or on a roof, an area 3 to 4 times larger,” said Hanbali. “This is, in addition to aesthetics, [demonstrates] the considerable advantage of our technology for the cities, which cannot offer enough ground and roof areas for their energy needs.”

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Source: greenbuildingelements


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