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Eskom cuts power to some defaulting municipalities in North West, Northern Cape

As part of its debt collection efforts, State-owned Eskom on Wednesday started interruptions of bulk electricity supply to some defaulting municipalities in North West and the Northern Cape.

The municipalities of Naledi, Lekwa-Teemane and Kgetlengrivier, in North West, as well as the Ubuntu and Renosterberg municipalities, in the Northern Cape, will have their supply interrupted.

Power supply will be cut between 06:00 and 08:00 and 17:00 and 19:30 during weekdays and between 08:30 and 11:00 and 15:00 and 17:30 on weekends.

Many defaulting municipalities that were set to have their power cut from this month have made payments to Eskom or reached payment plans with the utility.

Eskom on Tuesday reported that 21 of the 34 identified municipalities scheduled for supply interruptions during January had met its requirements. As a result, these municipalities have not had their supply interruptions suspended. This includes the Madibeng and Maquassi Hills municipalities in North West.

“We are immensely encouraged by the kind of response we are witnessing presently and would like to thank all the municipalities that have made an effort to pay their accounts, and committed to their payment agreements,” said Eskom interim CEO Matshela Koko.

Eskom will monitor the strict adherence to the payment plans and the payment of current accounts of these municipalities and any defaults will result in the interruption of supply without further notice.

Municipal customers are encouraged to engage with their supply authorities to get updated information on their municipality’s arrears situation.

Source: engineeringnews

South Africa: R5 Billion Solar Plant Opens in Northern Cape

Pretoria — The R5 billion Bokpoort concentrated solar plant (CSP) has officially been launched in Groblershoop, Northern Cape.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies welcomed the major investment by ACWA Power, a Saudi Arabian company.

“[The] project instils confidence in government’s long term infrastructure roll out, providing energy access, contributing to economic, community and sustainable development,” he said at the launch of the plant on Monday.

Minister Davies was joined at the launch by Saudi Arabian Trade and Commerce Minister, Dr Tawfiq Al Rabiah, who is also in South Africa for the 7th session of the South Africa-Saudi Arabia Joint Economic Commission (JEC).

The 50 MW Bokpoort plant forms part of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Program (REIPPP).

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“This project marks a key milestone in South Africa’s electricity supply security and CO2 reduction. With its record 9.3 hours thermal energy storage capacity, the Bokpoort CSP project will provide electricity to approximately 21 000 households during the day as well as night time and save approximately 230 000 tons of CO2 equivalent emissions during every year of operation,” said Minister Davies.

Within five years, the REIPPP has attracted R194 billion of investment and is fast becoming a global model and blue print for other countries, providing policy certainty and transparency.

The Minister said the project has a major socio-economic development impact for the Northern Cape and South Africa. Over R2.4 billion was spent on local content, with 40% of the Bokpoort plant being sourced and manufactured locally. This includes the manufacturing and assembly of solar field collector steel structures and the supply of piping and cables.

During construction peak time, more than 1 200 people worked on site, while 70 permanent jobs have been created to operate and maintain the plant. The plant was constructed over 30 months.

“The operation of the plant will provide electricity to the Eskom grid to power communities and industry by ensuring a reliable source of renewable energy and increasing power supply.”

The Minister thanked the chairperson of ACWA Power, Mohamed Abunayyan, for his confidence to invest in South Africa.

ACWA Power aims to expand its Southern African portfolio to 5 000 MW by 2025. The group has identified South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Botswana as key growth markets in the region.

“To our visitors from Saudi Arabia, South Africa is indeed open for business. Investors enjoy robust protection in South Africa, comparable to the highest international standard,” said Minister Davies.

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Source: allafrica


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South African women should fight for 100% renewable energy

South African women should be fighting for a 100% renewable energy future for our country. A completely renewable energy future will be good for everyone, but it could be particularly good for women.

At the recent South African International Renewable Energy Conference in Cape Town, it was striking that one of the side-events with the most women in attendance was focused on rural electrification. Clearly the need for rural electrification is particularly urgently felt by women.

Global warming is perhaps the ultimate expression of patriarchy. It is one inevitable outcome of a global power structure that has long held men, mostly white wealthy and middle-class men, as the thinking subject while everyone else became, with nature, an exploitable object.

Climate change caused by carbon emissions will hit rural African women first and hardest. For reasons of culture or where men are migrant workers, African women currently bear primary responsibility for food production, and sourcing fuel and water – all of which are threatened by climate change. For this reason, building a renewable energy economy that helps to avert climate change as far as possible is incredibly important.

But even if climate change were not a problem, renewable energy would still be transformative for women’s development.

In the !Kheis municipal area of the Northern Cape, for example, where 70% of people are poor and unemployed, basic solar home power systems have been rolled out. They include three interior lights, an outside security light (a vital contribution to women’s safety), and a radio and cellphone charger. The systems can be upgraded. One woman for every 50 households has been trained to maintain the systems and collect data on how they are used, building community and employment.

Off-grid systems are sometimes considered to be a second-best option—but their users often do not agree. These systems are cheaper to run, and when load shedding hits the wealthier members of the community, the poor are unaffected: “During load shedding, the have-nots have, and the haves have not.”

These systems offer the chance for precise scalability, matching to people’s actual needs, and for real participation and community economic development.

“If you have no lights, you cannot clean at night, so this changes women’s lives totally. It is a totally different community, it gives them back their dignity,” says Teresa Scheepers, the regional municipal manager.

As another conference participant observed, “I have not seen a technology that has such a developmental impact as renewable energy technology.” This is in part because the economic empowerment of women has a multiplier effect, improving health and family outcomes, and laying the foundations for deeper participation in the formal economy.

But it is not just in marginalised rural communities that renewable energy technology offers new opportunities for women. The structure of our current economy—indeed, our society—is deeply linked to the energy sources on which it is dependent.

Fossil fuel companies do not just pollute air and water without penalty, imposing the costs of their dirty business models on the most vulnerable. They also pollute our politics. Countries that are dominated by extractive industries are notoriously more corrupt than those that are not—the so-called “resource curse”. It stands to reason then, that if we wish to reduce corruption—such as ANC kickbacks from companies – we should also reduce our dependence on fossil fuels as far as possible. Since women are more vulnerable to the effects of corruption than men (according to a 2008 report by Unifem), this reduction in corruption will bring substantial benefits for women.

As Michael Liebreich of Bloomberg New Energy Finance observes, “Clean energy is inherently more local, more distributed, more accountable … the revolution afoot in energy, driven by new technologies and distributed generation, can and should mean a democratisation of social as well as electrical power.” That means that renewable energy development can support African communities and community values, as communities that are embedded in the natural world and do not hold themselves above it, in ways that the technocratic, ruthless capitalism of extractive fossil-fuel energy does not. To put it another way, renewable energy brings us back in touch with the rhythms and cycles and limitations of nature.

Following the #FeesMustFall student protests, South Africans have been asking themselves how the government will fund new commitments to higher education. One possibility is the savings on fossil-fuel imports that could be made if we strengthened our commitment to renewable energy for 100% renewable energy supply by 2050. This would save us an additional R30 billion each year in reduced fossil-fuel imports, according to an analysis by the New Climate Institute. It would also prevent an additional 1 200 deaths due to air pollution; and create an additional 25 000 jobs.

The global energy sector is notoriously male-dominated. Though the emerging renewable energy sector remains notably male-dominated, in many instances it is more open to gender-inclusive practices. In countries like Germany and the UK, women are more visible as industry leaders in the renewables sector than they are in old energy, particularly in Germany’s multitude of community energy companies. Bloomberg New Energy Finance actively seeks to grow the participation of women in the sector.

If women are to benefit from a 100% renewable energy target for South Africa, we must ensure this goal is adopted. We must stand up for renewable energy, whether in business or politics or as consumers. We should lobby those institutions that are intended to represent women, such as the gender commission, to add their voices to this call. We should call on women in politics to stand up for a more democratic and humane national energy policy that will truly benefit women—and everyone else too.

Source: mg


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Food prices to increase amid water crisis

Some Western Cape farmers despair a mounting water crisis is drying up their profits.

Several Swartland residents have labelled this dry season as their worst since 1952.

Agri-Wes Cape expects this harvest to be lacklustre at best, given consistently low rainfall over the past year.

The hard, dusty soil of Enkelfontein does not look arable.

Patches of dried grass are dotted along fields sporting ground the consistency of powder.

Hopefield wheat farmer Olivier Slabber is worried.

He told Eyewitness News that he usually earns about R10,000 per hectare, with the farm’s operational costs amounting to about R6,000 per hectare.

This year however, Slabber is only making R3,500 per hectare, that means a loss of at least R3 million.

“Financially the impact is a lot bigger. There are bills that need to be paid and animals that need to be fed.”

Farmer Gideon Melck is in the same dilemma and shared Slabber’s sentiments.

“Each year is a challenge and this year there’s a much bigger one.”

The National Agricultural Marketing Council warns food prices are expected to increase nationwide, in the coming weeks.

The drought in several parts of South Africa has resulted in some provinces, including KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape, being declared disaster areas.

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At the same time, the amount of wheat produced in the Western Cape, considered to be the country’s breadbasket, has reached record lows.

Darling wheat farmer Andre Kirstens cautions that consumers are not immune to the challenges facing those in the grain-producing sector.

Agricultural economist Christo Joubert agrees, labeling it as supply and demand.

Farmers can’t ramp up their output when there’s no water.

“When there’s crisis with water, then there will be a crisis with production of commodities that go into food stuff and especially on our poorest.”

Joubert says vegetable and wheat farmers along the West Coast have harvested less than one third of their average output, placing enormous strain on the grain industry.

Some struggling wheat farmers are pleading with the Western Cape government to intervene in order to reduce the knock-on effect on consumers.

The current water crisis has contributed to sagging harvests following months of poor rainfall.

Provincial Agriculture, Economic Development and Tourism MEC Alan Winde, has been meeting with West Coast farmers to find ways to manage scare resources.

November usually sees the Swartland’s mammoth storage units fill up with around 17,000 tonnes of wheat, each.

Now, however, the Koperfontein silos contain only 5,000 tonnes.

Melck wants government to help.

“I hope government will see the urge for feed, the value of the stubble is very, very poor.”

Winde agreed.

“We could have areas where we can help with animal feed, those areas where we can coordinate.”

Provincial authorities have also been discussing alternative practices which farmers may implement in an effort to adapt to climate change.

But the MEC has emphasised local government can’t alter output levels or change yields.

Source: ewn


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Renewable power plan is SA’s hot ticket

NEAR a huge iron ore mine in the Northern Cape, almost 320,000 photovoltaic panels mounted to track the sun cover the rust-coloured earth. Spanish developer Acciona SA built the 94-megawatt Sishen solar project in about 16 months under some of the strongest sunshine in the country.

In SA, the fifth-biggest producer of coal — the resource that is burnt to generate most of the country’s electricity — solar and renewable power are gaining fast. The alternatives have attracted R193bn of investment since 2011, helping the government ease blackouts.

Two coal-burning power plants first approved in 2007 are over budget and more than seven years behind schedule.

The first 794MW at the Medupi plant near Lephalale only came online last week after delays owing to strikes, technical problems and cost overruns.

SA’s experience shows how renewables are spreading across the developing world, opening new markets with a reputation for convenience and plunging costs.

That’s challenging the traditional selling point for a fossil fuel that is the most widely used as well as the easiest way to boost power supplies.

“In the past we all looked at green and everybody was thinking: ‘Well, that’s great, but it’s very expensive, and it’s for the rich,’” said Karen Breytenbach, head of the Independent Power Producer office, a group established by the government to procure energy from private sources.

“We have moved the market from very expensive green power to affordable power.”

Renewables are a lone bright spot in SA’s power industry. State-owned Eskom has struggled to meet demand, cutting power on 99 days this year to protect the grid, while the shortages stunt the economy. Eskom’s older power stations are susceptible to breakdowns from lack of maintenance.

Trouble with bringing the coal plants online is emblematic of the industry’s difficulties worldwide. Coal prices have tumbled 50% since the start of 2011, tipping more than three dozen mining companies into bankruptcy. Envoys from more than 190 nations, including SA, will try to reach a historic deal in Paris in December limiting fossil-fuel emissions everywhere, suggesting more regulations against coal.

Renewable installations, meanwhile, are surging in SA and elsewhere in the developing world. In April Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson accelerated the programme, which follows the National Development Plan. Auctions first started in 2011 under a framework the government designed with developers and banks.

Starting with almost zero utility-scale photovoltaics in 2010, SA now has procured solar capacity of more than 1,000MW, a little more than what a nuclear reactor produces. Instead of offering fixed incentives in the form of feed-in tariffs, as Germany did, SA has a competitive tender process for developers to bid on renewable energy projects.

The government will procure more than 6,000MW of wind, solar and hydro plants, as part of the biggest surge in power capacity since the 1980s. SA saved R4bn in fuel costs and avoided some blackouts in the first half of this year, according to a study by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) that found renewables may be the cheapest way to prevent shortages.

The auction tender was a “blessing” and “and turned what many thought would be an expensive exercise into one where solar and wind are extremely cost-competitive by global standards”, said Derek Campbell, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

India and Brazil are also using auctions to boost renewable capacity. By 2040, $12.2-trillion will be invested in power generation worldwide — 78% of that in emerging-market nations — and two-thirds of the total will be in renewables, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

For SA, the interest in the renewables programme “was far beyond our wildest dreams”, said Ms Breytenbach at the Independent Power Producer’s office.

It pushed the costs of solar and wind power lower, allowing the government to reduce the price paid for power, through successive auctions.

The programme has been praised for its clarity and transparency, and “could be a useful model for private funding of other types of infrastructure projects”, management consultancy McKinsey said in a report on Tuesday.

Coal remains SA’s dominant power source, accounting for 88% of electricity supplied in the first half of the year, according to the CSIR.

Solar and wind were at 1.8%.

Bringing on new coal plants hasn’t been as easy as the government anticipated.

Labour disputes and construction delays hit the 4,764MW Medupi plant and the 4,800MW Kusile plant in Emalahleni — neither will be fully operational until at least 2019.

Even more baseload generation is needed for future demand, and the Independent Power Producer’s office plans to procure 2,500MW of coal stations by 2021.

On a rare, overcast day, a computer in the control room at the Sishen solar plant shows 14MW flowing from the panels supplied by JinkoSolar. Other than a squeak as the GPS adjusts their position for maximum radiation, the rows of panels are silent.

Through the competitiveness of its bidding rounds, SA has reduced tariffs for solar power to as little as R786 per megawatt/hour from R3,288, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The average cost of energy from independent power producers using renewables is R2,172 per megawatt/hour, which is cheaper than the R2,573 from turbines using diesel, Eskom reported this year.

Though baseload power — primarily coal — is still the cheapest at about R300.

In spite of the tariff reductions, the procurement programme is “well planned” and predictable, Rafael Mateo, CEO of Acciona’s energy unit, said during a visit to his company’s project.

He expects to bid again in successive renewable energy auctions.

“It is a good example of how to drive renewables as part of the solution to South Africa’s current energy crisis,” he said.

Source: bdlive


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Management, NUM agree to end manganese strike

Mine management and the local leadership of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have reportedly jointly agreed to end the unprotected strike at the BHP Billiton-managed Hotazel manganese operations in the Northern Cape.

BHP Billiton South Africa communications manager Patrick Wadula said in a media statement sent to Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online that the agreement meant that all employees were due to have reported for duty by today, Wednesday, April 8.

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Wadula stated that management of the Hotazel manganese operations and NUM expected the mines to be fully operational from the morning shift and that both parties had agreed to engage further on the issues under discussion. Mineworkers, who began the strike on March 27, were urged to return to work last week in compliance with a court order, which had declared the stayaway illegal and unprotected.

The stayaway followed prolonged engagement over claims arising from an employee share ownership scheme (Esop), which led to a one-off financial settlement to resolve the matter and the payout of three dividends to date, with a fourth due this month, under a new Esop. BHP Billiton, which is planning to demerge the Hotazel manganese mines into the new South32 spin-off company on which shareholders are scheduled to vote next month, committed itself to open engagement with NUM to ensure continuity of production following rulings in its favour by the statutory Council for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration and the courts.

The manganese business that has been earmarked to become part of South32 includes the Hotazel mines and Gemco in Australia, and smelters at Temco in Australia and Metalloys in South Africa. With those assets, South32 would be one of the largest low-cost producers of manganese ore and a global producer of manganese alloy. The aim is for South32 to become a 12-asset, five-country, 24 000-employee group and locate a service centre in South Africa similar to the one in Australia that delivers services to the 41-asset, 13-country and 50 000-employee BHP Billiton group on six continents.

Source: Engineering News


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New solar plant to add 216 GWh/y to local grid

The 94.3 MWp Sishen solar photovoltaic (PV) plant, in the Northern Cape, was expected to deliver 216 GWh/y of electricity into power utility Eskom’s national grid. The plant, which was built by Spanish firm Acciona and commissioned by Spanish consulting firm Enertis, featured 319 600 PV modules, mounted on 470 single-axis trackers.

Enertisproject scope included an independent verification of the electrical and mechanical execution, coordination of the commissioning process, identification ofconstruction defects, setting of communications, liaison for grid compliance tests, and performance of further acceptance tests such as the thermography of the PV panels.

It also performed a complete quality control inspection of the PV modules – both at the manufacturer’s facilities in China and at EnertisSouth African laboratory, in collaboration with its partners at Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. The tests included flash-test and electroluminescence.

From its offices in Cape Town, Enertis aimed to increase its presence in the country, as well as in other countries in Southern and East Africa.

Source: Engineering News


 

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juwi South Africa to build biggest single solar project in the company’s history

juwi Renewable Energies (Pty) Ltd., the South African subsidiary of the international juwi group, is to build the Mulilo Sonnedix Prieska PV solar park in the Northern Cape Province/South Africa for Independent Power Producer (IPP) Sonnedix.

The PV power plant has a total generation capacity of 86 MegaWatts (MW.) Financial close was achieved on December 11, 2014. The commencement of construction is scheduled for the first quarter of 2015. For the juwi group, the utility-scale project in the Northern Cape is the company’s largest single solar EPC-project in the world. juwi is also providing Operation and Maintenance (O and M) services for the plant.

“We are proud to realize this milestone project and delighted to be playing a key role in adding substantial amounts of clean energy to the South African electricity grid,” says Greg Austin, juwi South Africa managing director. Over the past years, juwi Renewable Energies has realized four utility-scale PV projects in South Africa and has built up a substantial reputation as a specialist for green energies in the country.

The Prieska project was selected by the Department of Energy of South Africa under the third bidding window of the Renewable Energy Independent  Power Procurement Programme (REIPPP) in October 2013. “We are also very pleased that our efforts in designing the economic development aspects of the project brought the desired outcome,” Austin continues.

Of all six projects in bidding round three, the Mulilo Sonnedix Prieska PV solar park had the highest economic development score. juwi will also provide O and M services for the plant.

Commenting on the closing, Franck Constant, President of Sonnedix said: “This first closing in South Africa is a considerable milestone for our company. It confirms the growth strategy and added value of Sonnedix in new markets where clean renewable electricity is in high demand and cost effective compared to conventional power.”

Olivier Renon, Sonnedix South Africa Country Manager, adds: “We are happy to be working with juwi, one of the world’s most experienced EPC providers in the field of renewable energies to build our solar park. We feel confident that our project construction is in very good hands.”

Source: Cape Business News