Electric cars, LED lighting, reusable bags; many a green innovation has gone mainstream in recent years – and now energy storage is joining the list.
With new tech start-ups entering the scene this year to produce storage batteries, costs for storing energy are set to fall, making 2016 the year of battery storage around the world.
Why the focus on storage? More companies are turning to wind and solar energy but weather patterns are far from consistent. By storing the energy produced in batteries, it can be released for use when it is needed, and not only throughout the day, but from season to season as well.
Energy storage has already taken off in some markets around the world, driven by renewable energy generation, but has largely been overlooked so far in Britain, mainly because of the high cost of implementing storage technologies.
In some markets, such as the US, Germany, and Japan, energy storage is being used commercially. In the US, about 13 per cent of electricity comes from renewable sources and in Germany it equates to around 30 per cent of electricity consumed. And the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) pumped $700 million into energy storage for Japan in 2015.
Investing now to build energy storage systems that take advantage of local, renewable resources could ultimately save companies money by paving the way to energy independence. “It’s a huge advantage to keep energy locally and bring it back locally when you need it, without having to transport it across the country,” says Franz Jenowein, Sustainability Consulting Director at JLL.
The cost of energy storage needs to come down for the commercial real estate industry to embrace it. “Although there’s excitement around the numbers, it might take up to 10 years for companies to get their return on investment,” says Jenowein.
Knowledge of a new technology is one thing; actually using it is quite another. The photovoltaic (PV) effect, responsible for converting light into energy, for example, isn’t new: a 19-year-old French physicist discovered it in 1839.
“Solar PV panels were first used by space satellites in the late 1950s. And battery storage technology has come a long way, but it’s only really come onto the radar with Tesla,” says Jenowein who noted that the premium, electric vehicle automaker used a “very clever communications strategy to make something as geeky as a battery attractive.”
Introducing super batteries
Batteries, pumped-storage systems, ice storage, and heat thermal storage make up some of the more common energy storage technologies for use during peak demand to bring grid usage down and to compensate for peak electricity tariffs. But super batteries, the same types that power electric vehicles, are the current focus of tech companies ever since Tesla introduced the Powerwall energy storage system for homes in May 2015.
Energy stored in batteries provides a promising way to store renewable energy for buildings, too. They can power lights, computers, heating and cooling equipment during peak times, can take over during power outages, and they provide an alternative to fossil fuel powered back-up generators.
Storage battery systems have two functions. “The beauty is that you not only generate energy, but you also have an energy holding technology. Batteries can be connected to the power grid, potentially playing a key role in the emerging smart grids,” says Jenowein. Once you put energy storage systems in buildings and connect to the grid, they become part of this new energy ecosystem.
Getting into the act
More UK tech start-ups are getting into the act by developing their own storage batteries, which they can sell to commercial building owners, in a sort of “storage war” competition, with companies such as Powervault, Moixa Technology, and redT.
Powervault, for example, plans to “take on Tesla” by providing home energy storage systems for British homeowners. Moixa’s system is for residential and commercial uses, and redT’s is for industrial and utility-scale usage.
Although this technology is still prohibitively expensive for widespread use, as production increases and more companies get into the game, prices will go down. “Costs are expected to fall 40 percent over the next five years,” according to JLL’s 2016 Sustainability Trends report.
Jenowein paints a picture of the environment in the UK today: a recognition by building managers of higher electricity rates during day peak times and a willingness to do something about it, and the technology solutions of the batteries. He says that lots of components need to come together for energy storage to become more prevalent, such as regulatory elements, subsidies and incentives, and software to integrate the technologies.
“The challenge is to make it all work together,” says Jenowein. His prediction: energy storage for use in commercial office buildings will be more commonplace, but probably not before 2025 or 2030.
The operator of South Australia’s vast network says it has no concern about the growing penetration of renewable energy on its grid, and is in fact encouraging remote towns to look at high penetration renewable micro-grids to reduce costs.
South Australia is likely to source more than 50 per cent of its electricity needs from fluctuating, but highly predictable, wind and solar power this year, and the penetration will continue to grow.
Last week the Australian Energy Market Operator issued a report on the growing penetration of renewables, and the imminent departure of the last coal generator, but found no threat to energy security.
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SA Power Networks chief executive Ron Stobbe told analysts: ”We don’t see any major implications at all for our networks. We can manage generation from any source.”
Indeed, SAPN is looking to rapidly increase the share of renewable energy in parts of its grid, to increase reliability and reduce costs – both for itself and its consumers.
It says it is talking with a number of remote towns on the feasibility of high penetration renewable energy micro-grids, that might focus on wind and /or solar power, plus diesel back-up or battery storage.
SAPN says this will be a cheaper option for the network than upgrading its extended grid, and also in making repairs to lines damaged by storms and fires. And it will increase safety.
Networks in Western Australia and Queensland are also looking at high renewable penetration micro-grids for the same reasons. A recent analysis suggested using solar and storage could cost just one-tenth of the price of other proposed methods to protect against fire risk.
SAPN is also looking to trial “mid-scale” network storage to improve reliability, allow for higher renewables penetration and defer network upgrades. Ergon in Queensland says a similar strategy is cutting network costs by one third.
SAPN says it is also conducting residential battery storage trials with multiple vendors, to ascertain the value to consumers and to networks by deferring upgrades, and is creating an innovation centre to look at such technologies.
A definite highlight at this year’s GovTech conference was the introduction of the State Information Technology Agency’s Public ICT Awards, which accoladed and promoted innovation in public products, solutions and service delivery.
One winner worth mentioning is 32-year-old Lindelwa Nzimande (founder of Words and All), winner of the The Youth in ICT Award which recognises the contribution of young ICT professionals make to the sector and to the growth and development of the sector as a whole.
Meeting up with this determined young woman with a passion for the Internet of Things, and the use of the internet to better fulfill government services in order to makes service delivery efficient, one realises the commitment of the youth to improve just about anything in the world around them—the way they know best; with the use of technology.
Nzimande, who started Words and All, a digital agency or online communications company, in 2008 says they manage brands’ reputations online by designing their websites, managing their social media tools (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), designing apps, building online-based radio stations and gaming platforms to mention but a few.
Being a pioneer in the online communications space and former recipient of the Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Scholarship for her Bachelor of Social Science degree, in addition to her business ventures, she was also the youngest member to be appointed by Minister Faith Muthambi to the Department of Communications’ National Communications Task Team (NCTT), where she chairs the country’s Digital Work-stream.
Reaching the masses
Over the years Nzimande has conducted virtual rallies for various political parties during their election campaigns—this is a cheaper way of reaching and talking to masses without the costs of an actual physical stadium gathering.
Talking to BBQ about winning the award, her achievements and the issues facing young people in ICT in South Africa, Nzimande says winning the GovTech Youth in ICT award means that the industry is giving recognition and encouragement to businesses that are not only making revenue in ICT, but are also giving back to communities through employment opportunities and CSI projects like the internet café that my business is working on in rural Maqongqo, Pietermaritzburg, KZN.
Humbled by winning the award, she is yet to establish who nominated her, however, she suspects that the nomination may have come from a few corners, including key government department offices that she has worked with in the past.
“At the gala dinner as I heard the runner ups’ portfolios being read out, I told my friend next to me that there was no way I could beat my competitors. Their CVs just sounded so amazing. All the nominees were worthy of winning too, because the standard was so high overall. So when I heard my name, I was consumed with utter disbelief—and gratitude.”
As to what achievements gave her the edge during the competition, Nzimande believes that the fact that she started in a then new industry of online communications at the tender age of about 24, on her own, and taught herself how to manage brands’ online profiles, gave her the edge over the other nominees.
The value-chain of the internet ecosystem
“Online communications is still not easily understood, compared to traditional brand communications initiatives like billboard advertising for example. I also think the fact that I understand the value-chain of the internet ecosystem as a whole goes a long way. For me it is vital to understand telecommunications, the data universe and cloud services in order to service your clients optimally. In order to contribute through CSI to improve socio-economic conditions, its important to understand thoroughly how infrastructure unavailability ought to be resolved.
“I think every small or big involvement matters. The fact that I started a business in a then relatively unknown space was important in that it showed young people of SA that careers in social media management are possible, in other words, I took a career that I observed David Axelrod and his team spearheaded for President Obama, and I attempted to introduce this in SA for our political parties. My other contribution was being part of key government structures like the National Communications Task Team (appointed by Minister Faith Muthambi) contributes in terms of assisting with policy, which in turn affects citizens’ lives. There is also the aspect of women and careers. In the past women may have been limited in their career choices. My involvement in online communications will hopefully inspire women to look at alternative and unique career options. So for me, every contribution matters, as it helps to form the bigger picture of a better SA, and in turn a better Africa,” she says.
Growing up in a rural area called Maqongqo, in KZN, Nzimande attended primary school in another rural area called Esigodini, where goats used to wander into the classroom while they were learning. In as much as her parents were a primary school teacher and a technician respectively, she says she didn’t have resources to pay for a university education, had it not been for a bursary from the Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trust.
“Also, being a woman still means that you are last in line and more disadvantaged than male counterparts and are not taken as seriously, especially in ICT. If you look a certain way too, stereotypes are attached to you. Sometimes you are even considered too pretty to have achieved anything ‘all on your own’.”
On the topic of how local government can improve when it comes to utilising ICT to boost service delivery, she says the use of the internet to meet service delivery targets should be encouraged in all government spheres. ICT overall ensures efficient, easier and quicker delivery of education and e-health for example, due to technological speed.
“SITA introduced this award in an effort to promote the contribution to the ICT industry to young professionals and SITA recognises the contribution that young achievers make to this sector and to the growth and development of the industry as a whole. My beliefs centre around how the internet and ICT overall can help us to achieve service delivery objectives, which will alleviate socio-economic challenges in society, thus reducing poverty,” she says.
ICT brand ambassador
Going forward, she intends to be an ICT brand ambassador for SITA and South Africa. Other than that, she says she will continue to do what she does in business, academia and CSI. She says the networking opportunities that have stemmed from this award are “#fantabulous” and she already has big ICT corporates wanting to investigate possible synergies with her company.
Nzimande says there’s still lots of work to be done in ICT in as she believes that not enough effort is made to promote technology to the youth. “For example, government and the private sector could work together more to create WiFi spots like Alan Knott-Craig has, and as is the case with the Ekurhuleni WiFi project. The youth of today no longer want food parcels, they want WiFi instead. This WiFi will give them to access the internet where they will look for and apply for jobs, create their own small online-based business to earn a living, and access information on how to help their communities. #WIFIISTHESTRUGGLE.”
Nzimande’s advice for the youth in ICT is to travel off the beaten path. “Follow your curiousity and passion and don’t be scared to ventured into unheard-of careers. Work hard and make something of it.”
Looking at her your long-term goal for the next five years, she says they are more aligned to academic, policy and CSI contributions where the internet is concerned, as these areas are the critical corner stones of the processes that define and determine the attainment of better lives for all.
Currently working with a number of organisations to find ways on how to use the internet to better fulfill government services like e-education, e-health, e-commerce etc. in order to alleviate the e-friction that makes service delivery inefficient, thus negatively impacting citizens’ lives in Africa overall, Nzimande says this is important for local development.
“My involvement as chairman of the digital strategy in the National Communications Task Team, for example, allowed me to interact directly with the minister and other key people to discuss how we can all come together from various spheres to find solutions to alleviate different e-friction challenges. So I will continue to offer my time free of charge to similar structures in the pursuit of ensuring that the internet helps us to improve socio-economic conditions for us all,” she concludes.
More about Lindelwa Nzimande
- During high school she was selected as part of twenty-four students who were awarded music scholarships by a partnership project with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, where her journey as a keen amateur violinist and steel-drum player started.
- She took part in extra-curricular activities like a foreign languages club where she learnt to speak French and German.
- Lindelwa is a former recipient of the Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Scholarship for her Bachelor of Social Science and Honors in Public Policy degrees.
- Whilst doing her Honors in Public Policy, she was also awarded the first Black Academia Scholarship towards her Masters qualification and beyond, by the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
- Her two academic majors are Political Science and Culture, Communication and Media Studies, which lead to a career in communications, public relations and marketing.
- Her working career spans years spent as the national communications manager at the South African Chefs Association (SACA), where her role included managing the South African Olympics Team that competes at the global chefs Olympics every four years, where she also started their official fan club.
- Some of her clients over included the President of South Africa’s Jacob G. Zuma Education Trust, the Department of Human Settlements, City Power, the Bongi Ngema-Zuma Foundation for Diabetes (of which her company Words & All was one of the co-founding companies), JIC Mining Services, political parties and many others.
- In addition to her business ventures, she is the youngest member to be appointed by Minister Faith Muthambi to the Department of Communications’ National Communications Task Team (NCTT), where she chairs the country’s Digital Work-stream.
- Lindelwa is passionate first and foremost about the internet, she is a book-worm of note and spends her spare time nurturing the strings of her 19th century violin with her beloved pets, a peahen named Haider and a peacock named Vivier as regular audience members.
CAPE TOWN – A study into innovation in Africa’s mining sector has shown that mining houses will need to innovate if they want to succeed in a sector marked by plunging commodity prices, deeper and more dangerous mines, greater geographical complexity and labour unrest. The ‘Innovation State of Play: Africa’ report, compiled by Monitor Deloitte and Mining Indaba, shows that the African mining sector is midfield in terms of innovation focus and impact. It scores on the lower end of competence on the industry maturity scale, but is slightly above the Canadian average.
“This hints at an opportunity for the continent to push ahead and truly lead through innovation, particularly as the operational context lends itself to thinking and working differently to unlock efficiencies,” said Deloitte Africa mining leader Andrew Lane. The study, the second of a three-part series which also covers Australia and Canada, examined current perspectives on innovation through a series of executive interviews. It also used the Innovation Scorecard survey methodology developed by the Deloitte innovation unit, Doblin.
Based on responses from mining executives, the current breakdown in Africa’s mining innovation was a relatively balanced 61% core, 23% adjacent and 16% transformational. This innovation ambition matrix is considered to be healthy. It follows a similar trend to the Canadian market. Core innovations are defined as innovations that optimise existing products for existing customers, while adjacent innovations are those that expand existing business into “new to the company” business.
Transformational or new innovations are considered breakthroughs and inventions for markets that do not yet exist. While the African market has a strong focus on core products and markets, including technological solutions to optimise old techniques as and when needed, the survey determined that there is significant scope to unlock higher levels of adjacent and transformational innovation. The study found that companies find it a challenge to spread risk. Lane said innovation needs to address the mine system holistically, incorporating it into social, labour and stakeholder spheres. “This is a view that is more inclined to be embedded in Africa’s mining players and one behind which there is a rallying call to capitalise on more.” Lane said companies need to be clear about what they are working on and how they envision their businesses of tomorrow if they want to unlock the potential of innovation and create a sustainable mining sector. “Importantly, senior management needs to champion innovation, while the appropriate governance structures need to be in place.”
The Green Innovation Center, which was inaugurated at AfricaRice in Benin this month (3 January), aims to boost agricultural productivity, increase the incomes of smallholder farmers and create job opportunities, particularly for youth and women in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Togo, Tunisia and Zambia.
“The main gap that the centre seeks to close is the low capacity of the present extension service.”
Bernard Marc Winfried, AfricaRice
The Green Innovation Center is supported by the Federal German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), in partnership with other institutions such as Benin Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, and AfricaRice.
BMZ has given 2.7 million euros (almost US$3 million) to AfricaRice to implement the centre’s activities in 2016 and 2017, according to Bernard Marc Winfried, a knowledge management specialist at AfricaRice.
Gerd Müller, minister for BMZ, said during the inauguration that agriculture does not only need water and fertiliser but also knowledge and innovation.
Wilfried added that in Benin the initiative will facilitate the exchange of knowledge and interaction between researchers and development experts in 17 communities.
He explained that the centre will focus on strengthening the agricultural innovation system by promoting partnerships and developing an operational framework for innovation.
According to Winfried, researchers will develop a set of services and innovation that will serve as youth training tools and help increase sustainable productivity and incomes of agricultural producers.
“The main gap that the centre seeks to close is the low capacity of the present extension service. The activities will decisively improve access for farmers and traders to advisory, technical and business development services,” Winfried says.
David Arodokoun, the director-general of National Agricultural Research Institute of Benin, praises the creation of the centre, noting that the centre could address hunger and aid growth because “a development without innovation technology is a blind development”.
Arodokoun adds that African countries have not understood and managed to develop innovative technologies, and hopes the centre could also help create innovations that are friendly to the environment and can address climate change-related impacts.
Winfried tells SciDev.Net that the new centre will initially focus on four key commodities — rice, soybeans, small ruminants and poultry — but is open to work on other commodities upon request.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has announced the 15 Finalists for its 2016 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards in the five categories; Community, Destination, Environment, Innovation and People. The 15 Finalists, which were chosen after a rigorous judging process, showcase the highest level of sustainability practices within the Travel & Tourism sector.
To understand how diverse responsible tourism is and the many ways it can help local communities and environments, you only have to look at below examples, carefully selected by Tourism for Tomorrow judges. The 2016 Awards saw applications from 62 countries across all continents. Following the first phase of the three stage judging process all applications have now been carefully evaluated by a committee of independent expert judges against established sustainable tourism criteria, which include community development, preservation of cultural and natural heritage, and innovative solutions for sustainable practices.
V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa and Wilderness Safaris from South Africa and Botswana led the way for the sector in Africa as shortlisted finalists, which will see them move forward into the second phase of on-site evaluations by international sustainable tourism experts, assessing the organisations and the business practices they have highlighted in their application.
Winners will be officially announced during the Awards Ceremony taking place in Dallas, USA on 7 April 2016 during WTTC’s Global Summit.
The Finalists of the 2016 WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards are:
Community Award Finalists
- Expediciones Sierra Norte, Pueblos Mancomunados, Mexico
- Sapa O’Chau, Vietnam
- Yayasan Ekowisata Indonesia, Indonesia
Destination Award Finalists
- Parkstad Limburg, Netherlands
- Swiss Parks Network, Switzerland
- V&A Waterfront, South Africa
Environment Award Finalists
- Alcatraz Cruises, US
- Lindblad Expeditions, US and worldwide
- Wilderness Safaris, South Africa / Botswana
Innovation Award Finalists
- ANVR, the Netherlands
- Northsailing, Iceland
- PWC, Travel Foundation & TUI Group, United Kingdom
People Award Finalists
- Jus’ Sail, Saint Lucia
- Kinyei International, Cambodia
- Youth Career Initiative (YCI), United Kingdom
Home storage unit is perfect for continent rich in solar and wind resources but short of reliable power sources, says Christine Mungai
Batteries that can store renewable energy for longer and at half the current cost have been hailed as an energy revolution that could transform Africa’s power supply.
Tesla boss Elon Musk said the company had Africa in mind when it developed the wall-mounted energy source. Just like the mobile phone allowed the continent to surge ahead in internet connectivity, so a battery pack that can power a home or business could allow Africans to leapfrog the limits of the grid.
The company has promised to release the technology into the public domain, encouraging others to develop their own models using the open source data.
At $3,500 (£2,267) for the 10 kilowatt hours version or $3,000 for a 7KWh version it’s still relatively expensive, but within a few years the price is expected to dropas others develop their own models.
Africa is the world’s most energy-scarce continent. Sub-Saharan Africa has an installed capacity equivalent to that of Spain, and half of it is in South Africa alone.
But perhaps more importantly, Africa could become the global centre for green energy. Thanks to the expansive Sahara desert, strong winds along its coasts and its flat, arid interior, and geothermal reserves all along the Rift Valley, the continent has the world’s highest reserves of renewable energy resources.
Here are three ways the new battery could make an impact:
Lighting and power
The battery could allow millions to leapfrog from no electricity at all straight to renewables.
Sub-Saharan Africa has more people living without access to electricity than any other region – more than 600 million people – nearly half of the global total. Although
the continent is home to 13% of the world’s population, it accounts for only 4% of global energy demand.
Worse still, the electricity available is erratic. Nigeria’s power is notoriously unreliable, but Ghana and South Africa have also been recently plunged into blackouts, mainly because of a lack of investment in the electricity grid.
With the Powerwall currently able to supply five hours of power, an enterprising African engineer could hook up several together, scaling up the battery’s capacity to provide continuous power to homes or commercial centres.
The battery could also finally break Africa’s dependance on fuel guzzling generators. In 2012, the cost of fuel for backup generators used by businesses and households is estimated to have been at least $5bn.
Nigeria is said to have the biggest concentration of generators per square kilometre in the world; the country accounts for almost three-quarters of electricity supply provided by back-up generators in Africa.
Mobile tech hubs
Today, technology hubs are springing up all over Africa’s cities. There are currently at least 90 tech hubs across the continent.
Kenya is planning to build a tech city – its “silicon savannah” – costing $14.5bn from scratch at Konza, 60km away from the capital in Nairobi. Ghana plans to build Hope City, a $10bn high-tech hub outside Accra, aiming to turn Ghana into a major tech player too.
Meanwhile, companies like Facebook and Google have ambitious plans to deploy wireless internet across the globe using drones or hot-air balloons to carry the signal.
But the combination of a solar panel battery and drone/balloon internet, it might only be a matter of time before the idea of a physical tech city itself becomes obsolete.
Using the new batteries, a tech hub – and workplaces in general – could become more mobile, springing up guerrilla-style anywhere in urban or rural Africa, like a flash mob for geeks.
Disengaging from government
With the possibility of being entirely off-grid, the home battery could finalise the disconnection of African everyday life from the happenings in the political sphere.
Traditionally, the relationship between a government and its people is one of bartering political support for the provision of services, such as roads, schools, electricity, water and security.
But increasingly, African life today is characterised by an extensive retreat of the state from these functions.
In Kenya, for example, the number of private primary schools rose nearly 1,000%in a decade, while the number of government primary schools grew just 40%.
In Uganda, the percentage of university students attending private institutions jumped from 9% in 1999 to 74% in 2011. In South Africa, there are more private security guards than police and army combined.
Nairobi city senator Mike Sonko even recently launched a personally funded fleetof ambulances, tow trucks, garbage collectors, water bowsers and fire brigades to respond to citizen emergencies.
Already, studies show that the African middle class deliberately disengages from politics as a form of protest, particularly if the government is authoritarian or a quasi-democracy.
The result – if the Tesla batteries take off, and Africa goes off-grid – could be less pressure on states to provide infrastructure and services to its people, widening the gap between governments and voters.
Source: The Guardian
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Testimonials from past applicants of the Global Cleantech Innovation program.
I had no idea of the long term effects of the GCIP programme. The webinars and training were helpful and this was evident at the recent Climate innovation centre
conference where both alumni of GCIP were head and shoulders above the other innovators. Both GCIP innovations were selected as finalists for grant funding. This is directly attributed to the Gcip training programme.
The GCIP programme took us to the Innovation Summit where my pitch was noted by SA breweries and they then sponsored Ceiling in a can team to present to London Business school. This presentation was attended by serious businesses and Ceiling in a can is now assisted by Hitachi to prepare for a global rollout.
As a result of further contacts made through the credibility of GCIP, Ceiling in a can was awarded grant funding of R500k.
The Information gained from GCIP was directly used to compete against other businesses and in November 2014 , Ceiling in a can was selected from 20 semi-finalists to be the winner of the Durban chamber of commerce entrepreneur of the year 2014. And the net tesult was fame and fortune.
We took first prize at the pitching session at the Climate Innovation Conference CIC at the Innovation Hub in Lynnwood Pretoria. The first prize we received was R250 000 in incubator credits. Five winners were announced.
It was a good conference with lots of representatives from CIC and World Bank. I was also able to network with key people from Johannesburg municipality and Salga.
As a result of the GCIP program and its solid emphasis on customers and markets, we looked strongly at our alternative markets , not just focussing on our primary municipal market which could have proven to be difficult. An alternative market which we have identified and have already started background research is the bulk liquid transport, especially bulk fuel transport, from ship to storage, to transport, to petrol station to owner and transport company and refinery databases all in real time. There is a lot of fuel theft and need for real time accounting and real time logistics support which can provide with our technology. Conservation of fuel as limited resource is important We are trying to make contact with the big players like Sasol, Engen, PetroSA.
About the GCIP
The GEF (Global Environment Facility), UNIDO (the United Nations Industrial Development Organization) and TIA (the Technology Innovation Agency) in South Africa are implementing the GCIP (Global Cleantech Innovation Programme) for SMEs to promote clean technology innovation and supporting SMEs and start-ups working on solutions related to energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste beneficiation and water efficiency. The programme combines a competition and a business accelerator to offer participants progressing through the programme extensive mentoring, training, access to investors and opportunities to showcase their innovations to the media and the public. Participants stand a chance to win a cash award and national business support awards, in addition to a trip to Silicon Valley, CA, to participate in the Cleantech Open Global Forum.
We are calling for applications! Applications close 15 May 2015.
Source: Press Release
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Four South Africans are among 10 finalists up for the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) award for 2015, including an environmentally-friendly minicab.
The IPA, first launched in 2011, is an initiative of the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) and mobilizes African innovators to invest in African-led solutions to ensure a sustainable, prosperous Africa.
Three winners will be chosen on 13 May, sharing a US$150,000 cash prize (R1.8 million), with the most outstanding innovation receiving US$100,000, and two prizes of US$25,000 for innovation with the highest social impact and best business potential respectively.
The AIF said it received a record 925 applications from 41 countries for its awards, surpassing the previous year’s entry record of 903.
The four South African nominees for IPA 2015 are:
- David Gluckman: Lumkani fire detection.
An off-the-shelf fire detection device and alert service that uses radio frequency (RF) transmission technology suitable for informal dwellings. In the event of a fire, the device triggers an alarm to alert the family.
Within 20 seconds, the device transmits a signal that sets off heat detectors in a 60 meter radius to elicit a community-wide response to the fire. This device prevents fires from ravaging high population density communities and boosting community mobilization efforts.
- Johann Pierre Kok: Scientific engineering educational box: ‘Seebox’.
A scientific engineering educational box that allows children to enjoy a practical and experimental way of learning the sciences and electronics, and measuring almost anything electronic or scientific. ‘Seebox’ also offers short videos explaining what is being measured.
This tool addresses the shortage of electronic and scientific professionals, and affords children the opportunity to learn first-hand the principles of science and electronics by building, measuring and experimenting.
- Lesley Erica Scott: Smartspot TBcheck
Smartspot’s flagship product, TBcheck examines the accuracy of machines used to detect TB diagnosis. They are designed to assess whether these machines are functioning optimally. Unlike other products, TBcheck is easy and safe to use and can be delivered to laboratories safely and economically.
This will make diagnosing TB far easier and might go a long way in curbing the TB epidemic in Africa. Today TB is second only to HIV and AIDS as a leading cause of death in the continent.
- Neil Du Preez: Mellowcabs
This is a suite of technologies that includes recovering the kinetic energy that is typically lost in the braking process, converting it into electricity and storing it.
Other associated innovations include hydrogen fueled Mellowcabs, adaptable, renewable body shells and an app to book cab rides that can be paid for with cash or credit.
Its user-friendly services include tracking the cab’s location, Wi-Fi access and mobile charging during the ride. The minicab service fills the gap for commuters who need organized, safe and affordable micro transport within a three mile radius.
This environmentally-friendly taxi service also eases traffic congestion in cities without causing pollution.
The remaining nominees for IPA 2015 are:
- Adnane Remmal, Morocco: A patented alternative to livestock antibiotics.
- Alex Mwaura Muriu, Kenya: Farm Capital Africa is a well developed risk sharing agri-business funding model that draws in investors for a share of farming profits.
- Jean Bosco Kazirukanyo, Burundi: New type of cement “OSP” that protects waters against carcinogenic lubrication oil spills.
- Kyai Mullei, Kenya: M-changa, also known as E-harambee. A mobile application that empowers individuals and organizations to initiate and manage fundraisers via sms or web devices in an efficient and cost effective way.
- Marc Arthur Zang, Cameroon: The cardio-pad. An affordable tablet that records and processes the patient’s ECG (heart signal) before transferring it to a remote station using mobile phone networks.
- Samuel O. Otukol, Uganda: Water distillation system and process (dsp). This innovation proposes an alternative source of viable drinkable water in areas of water shortage or where only sea water is available.
Source: Business Tech
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“We are looking for companies and individuals who have either funded or developed sustainable solutions which offer direct benefit to the local community, enhances access to clean running water, or energy-efficient innovation to participate in the publication to be nominated for awards,” says Diane Naidoo-Ngcese, MD of The Alchemist PR.
Categories for entry as well as editorial submission include innovation in:
- Transport and logistics
- Education and youth development
- Architecture and construction
- Design and production – advertising and print houses
“Sustainability is often wrongly perceived as a white middle class issue when in reality, the consequences of not going green has a dire impact on the working class. The cost of electricity, the access to clean running water, the overall improvement in the quality of life makes sustainability a non-negotiable if South Africa is to truly offer a better life for all,” comments Naidoo-Ngcese.
Financing options available
Funding institutions such as the Industrial Development Corporation, Development Bank of South Africa are among a host of financing options available for green initiatives. The SA Green Fund alone has a budget of R800m for projects to assist South Africa’s transition to a low carbon economy.
But the innovators and game-changers in this space are either unaware of the funding options or do not have the capacity to create the exposure required to attract the attention of investors. “Green good news stories and projects undertaken through CSI programmes are relegated to internal newsletters, annual reports or corporate presentations, and young entrepreneurs ideas remain ideas. And yet the green economy would be fast-tracked if these ideas were transitioned to a profitable business model that creates jobs and bolster the local economy,” Naidoo-Ngcese says.
“When I started my business nine years ago, consumers did not quite understand what energy-efficient windows and doors were, how they worked or the financial benefits these products represent hold. If the movement for sustainability had access to ad-spend of big global brands, we would see greater community buy-in,” managing director of TEVA Windows, Pieter Malherbe, says.
He says GreenOvation is one small step in ensuring sustainability becomes a mainstream issue which garners mass support, as communities, business and as government. He also believes that if the private sector throws their weight behind this initiative, it will also assist young aspirant entrepreneurs like him to ‘connect the dots between innovation, enterprise development, job creation and the development of the green economy’.
WWF SA has come on board as editorial advisors for the publication, with Saliem Fakir, head of the Living Planet Unit at WWF, to serve on the awards judging panel along with Miss Earth 2004, Catherine Constantinides.