Schneider Electric South Africa, the global specialists in energy management and automation, recently hosted a technology day in partnership Eskom to showcase their newest technology, and highlight various solutions to help the utility optimise efficiency in their plants in the future.
“A big part of Schneider Electric’s offer includes digitisation and automation, and with this new technology, and the increased risk to plants using connected devices, cybersecurity has become a big focus. We are also looking at optimising and maximising efficiencies in generation plants, where safety and reliability are key issues. When it comes to working with critical infrastructure, downtime must be kept to a minimum in order to mitigate the impact on production, and that, for us, forms an essential piece of our overall offering,” says Schneider Electric Vice President of Energy in Southern Africa, Taru Madangombe.
Key to the success of the day was understanding Eskom’s biggest challenges, as Schneider Electric works to build a long-standing partnership with the utility. Navigating through these challenges together, issues around cyber security and modular installations formed the foundation of the day’s discussions as Schneider Electric offered a number of solutions to future-proof Eskom’s operations.
“For the Eskom team, it has been exciting to get to explore some new and different views from Schneider Electric, while learning innovative ways of doing things. We are always open to innovation and new technology, and it has become critical for us to explore how our cybersecurity is being managed. This has become even more crucial as we have increased our portfolio, and so that’s where we placed most of our attention during this insightful visit to Schneider Electric,” explains Prudence Madiba, Senior Manager for Electrical, Control and Instrumentation at Eskom.
About Schneider Electric
Schneider Electric is leading the digital transformation of energy management and automation in homes, buildings, data centres, infrastructure and industries. With global presence in over 100 countries, Schneider is the undisputable leader in Power Management – Medium Voltage, Low Voltage and Secure Power, and in Automation Systems. We provide integrated efficiency solutions, combining energy, automation and software. In our global Ecosystem, we collaborate with the largest partner, integrator and developer community on our open platform to deliver real-time control and operational efficiency. We believe that great people and partners make Schneider a great company and that our commitment to innovation, diversity and sustainability ensures that Life Is On everywhere, for everyone and at every moment.
For more information, go to www.schneider-electric.co.za.
According to the US Geological Survey, more than 99.7% of the Earth’s water is unusable by humans and most other living things, either because it is saline or trapped in glaciers. This leaves a tiny portion of accessible freshwater for humans to use. To add to the pressure, South Africa is a semi-arid region with a mean annual precipitation of 497mm per year, just over half the global average of 860mm per year making it the 30th driest country in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. In addition, research has indicated that total precipitation in the region has declined, and southern Africa’s water resources are likely to decrease further as a result of climate change and rapidly increasing population growth and urbanization The current water crisis in Cape Town is testimony to this with Day Zero still looming for the city into 2019, and water security very much in the balance. Enter Zero Mass Water’s SOURCE Hydropanels: a world-first technology which uses sunlight and air to make safe, pure drinking water.
Powered entirely by solar, SOURCE extracts pure water vapour from the air and converts it into liquid water similar to distilled. This water is mineralised with magnesium and calcium before being delivered directly to a tap. Completely infrastructure-independent, SOURCE makes water without any external electric or water input. This significant advancement in drinking water access is made possible through the combination of thermodynamics, materials science, and controls technology.
Developed by Zero Mass Water founder and CEO Cody Friesen, a materials scientist and associate professor at Arizona State University, SOURCE utilises an ultra-absorbent material that collects water from the air around it in even arid conditions. Producing an average of 3-5 litres of water per panel per day, the Hydropanels are built in arrays designed to meet the drinking water needs of each application. For developers and architects incorporating smart-home technology into their designs and offerings, SOURCE is a differentiating feature of any modern home. Providing drinking water security and quality without any environmental consequence, SOURCE Hydropanels are vital for every resilient home and community.
For the hospitality sector, SOURCE adds value when built into scalable arrays. The SOURCE Hydropanels are modular and can be aggregated to meet the drinking water needs of a hotel, lodge or office building. “With the high-cost and environmental damage of bottled water, hotels and attractions need a better choice for their guests. Our system provides a daily supply of delicious, high-quality drinking water while offsetting the carbon footprint of bottled water.
With renewable water made on-site, SOURCE offers an infrastructure-free and cost-saving alternative to bottled water, without the hassle or logistics of purchasing and delivering it,” says Friesen. With the technology installed for emergency situations, in municipalities that have failing infrastructures, and homes for families looking for a better drinking water choice, the scope of applications for SOURCE Hydropanels in South Africa is seemingly endless, and will certainly go a long way to ensuring water security for all.
Some of South Africa’s biggest mixed-use developments are evolving into “smart cities” by embracing the latest technology.
Beyond the new urbanism trend – where all daily requirements are within easy reach in walkable precincts – new developments are targeting millennial investors with “smart” features that make a smart city.
Think electric car charging stations, precinct-wide WIFI and Fibre to the Home, significantly enhanced 24-hour security, and assistance in your home for a range of emergencies – at the push of a button. This is the future of development.
What are millennial buyers looking for?
Social commentator Mal Fletcher says: “Millennials expect to create a better future, using the collaborative power of digital technology.”
“Technology is an integral accompaniment to new urbanism as it holds the desirable characteristics of walkable precincts, where residential and office space are combined with gyms, hotels, and a wide variety of upmarket, cocktail bars and restaurants,” shares Nicholas Stopforth, Managing Director of Amdec Property Development.
Increasingly, people want to live, work and play in the same place – a space where they can easily and safely walk to an office, home, restaurant or another amenity. This concept is a mixed-use precinct. When combined with the latest in technology, it becomes a smart city.
And while a smart city has all the latest technological security and lifestyle benefits, these are designed into the development so largely unseen. You won’t find high-rise tower blocks with unsightly satellite dishes adorning the façade. Instead, imagine buildings that offer green design, green spaces, and pedestrianised roads, yet harken back to a feel of traditional, communal village life where all your daily needs are within walking distance.
It might sound contradictory, but it’s not.
Stopforth explains that new developments must offer a range of features to suit the ever-changing trends and demands of modern living. Developers need to expand the range of features that come with this community-driven lifestyle to include wireless internet across the precinct, the latest in access control, panic buttons as well as medical and security assistance on instant standby. The Melrose Arch precinct even has license plate recognition, to ensure increased security for residents and businesses.
Amdec Property Developments is the group behind South Africa’s best practice in mixed-use precinct design both Melrose Arch and Harbour Arch, the fastest selling large-scale development in the country with sales and reservations topping R1billion since its launch in October 2017.
The planned R10billion Harbour Arch on Cape Town’s foreshore, due to open in August 2019, is modelled on the global trend for walkable precincts such as Darling Harbour in Sydney and Canary Wharf in London.
As proof of the desirability of smart cities, Melrose Arch’s latest residential development – One on Whiteley – is already 75% sold out.
Residents at One on Whiteley will benefit from all the precinct’s sophisticated technology systems including fibre internet, back-up generators, license plate recognition, electric car charging stations, and recycling facilities.
But more than just focussing on technology, smart cities are focused on sustainability. And in South Africa, these mixed-use, new urbanist precincts are certainly driving the sustainability trend.
The world over, developers are under pressure to drastically minimise water usage and incorporate eco-friendly technologies that will benefit the planet in the long-term.
“Residents and investors want to know what is being done to reduce impact on the environment,” says Stopforth.
Sustainability is a key focus area in Amdec’s developments, with green building initiatives including refuse recycling, water-saving devices, low-energy LED lighting, and rainwater harvesting.
These will be core features of Cape Town’s new Harbour Arch precinct. With water scarcity being the new normal for the city, developers are required to implement water-wise strategies from the ground up. For this reason, Harbour Arch has invested a lot of time and energy in scenario planning with regards to the drought Cape Town faces.
This has resulted in a shift towards water-conscious design and planning – like rainwater and grey water harvesting, dual-flush plumbing systems, and water storage facilities. The company will also be investigating the viability of installing an on-site desalination plant to take advantage of the abundant ground water available in the foreshore area.
“There is huge benefit in executing water-saving measures at the construction stage, rather than retro-fitting. Not only is it better to have systems in place at the start, but it saves money in the long run,” says Stopforth.
“Ultimately, we need to reduce our impact. A smart development needs to be smart about sustaining our future.”
Source: Leadership Magazine
Practitioners passionate about contributing to a better future for all are invited to enter the 2017/18 AfriSam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture + Innovation
This prestigious biennial award, founded by AfriSam and the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA), recognise the contributions that bring sustainable innovation to human living environments through an integrated approach to communities, planning, design, architecture, building practice, natural systems and technology.
“This award recognises the importance of ‘green’ building in a palpable way while enabling us to highlight and commend excellence shaping our communities for livable sustainability,” says Maryke Cronje, SAIA President and convenor for the 2017/18 Award.
As co-founder and sponsor of the Award, leading construction materials producer, AfriSam, continues its partnership with SAIA in bestowing the Award.
Apart from recognising excellence in Sustainable Architecture and Research in Sustainability, the Award also invites entries that make innovative contributions in the fields of Sustainable Products and Technology, and Sustainable Social Programmes.
According to Richard Tomes, Sales and Marketing Executive at AfriSam, the AfriSam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture + Innovation is a natural extension of the AfriSam brand and reflects the company’s commitment to sustaining the environment through responsible manufacturing processes.
“At AfriSam we believe in creating concrete possibilities. This extends far beyond just the products that we manufacture. We believe that through responsible and sustainable business practices today, we are creating a future of possibilities for our children and their children,’ he says.
Entries for the 2017/18 AfriSam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture + Innovation close at 00:00 on March 24 2018 and will be accepted in four categories:
- Sustainable Architecture
- Research in Sustainability
- Sustainable Products and Technology, and
- Sustainable Social Programmes
Project entries should demonstrate how they embody sound sustainable practices, that bear the hallmarks of great architectural or social design and innovative thinking in the field of sustainability, to improve our world.
The adjudicators for the 2017/18 AfriSam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture + Innovation are Maryke Cronje (architect and President of the SAIA), Dr Sechaba Maape (sustainability architecture academic and architect), Philippa Tumubweinee (academic and co-founder of IZUBA INafrica Architects), Niraksha Singh (AfriSam Raw Materials and Sustainability Manager), Emmanuel Nkambule (academic with particular interest in the social environment) and Richard Stretton (founder of architecture and furniture design studio Koop Design). Stretton received the 2010 and 2014 Afrisam-SAIA Award for Sustainable Architecture and a 2014 Merit Award.
Issued by Conversation Capital
Contact Ally Cordiglia
021 422 2342
072 014 2780
Search for @sustainableDesignZa
In Uganda, a college project that led to ‘Africa’s first electric car’ is now an automobile start-up on course to mass-produce green vehicles for Africa.
Off Kampala’s chaotic arterial streets, we are on a dirt road with speed bumps that are large mounds of red earth. The red leads to a yellow building up a slope with awkward barbed wire fencing on its compound walls.
We are at Kiira Motors Corporation’s offices in Ntinda, in northeastern Kampala, home to what the company calls ‘Africa’s first electric car’ and ‘Africa’s first solar-powered bus’.
Outside the main building, a large white bus is parked under a makeshift shed. A scaled-down model of the same is placed under the stairway leading up to the offices. In the distance, a profusion of plantain trees; and a searing sun at 9:30AM.
The bumpy roads to Kiira are in a way akin to the journey ahead for this automobile start-up, ever since the green transportation initiative it kick-started in a little corner of Uganda.
“It’s an uphill task but we are working round-the-clock to deliver on our promises to our nation and the world,” says Allan Muhumuza, Vice-President, Marketing & Sales of Kiira, on the company’s mission to build eco-friendly mobility solutions for urban masses in a country of about 40 million.
It all started in 2007 as an extra-curricular activity by a group of students and teachers of the Department of Engineering and Mathematics led by Professor Sandy Stevens Tickodri-Togboa and Paul Isaac Musasizi, currently CEO of Kiira, at Uganda’s Makerere University.
Tickodri-Togboa was head of the department and, together with Musasizi, decided “the paradigm for training university students should be changed, as by the time they graduated, they didn’t have the skills for a working world”.
So they decided to start various extra-curricular projects for students after normal class hours.
Along the way, they were invited to be part of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) initiative with the aim of designing and producing a five-passenger plug-in hybrid electric vehicle targeting the Indian market.
Makerere was “the only participant from Africa”, and as part of the project, eventually developed the two-seater Kiira EV, aptly the color green.
The financing came from the Presidential Initiative Fund for Science and Technology Innovations, and the electric car designed and built in Uganda for the first time was launched by President Yoweri Museveni in 2011.
“The original idea was to use the electric car in the Makerere University campus,” recalls Tickodri-Togboa.
In 2014, the team built Kiira EV SMACK, a sedan its makers say is ‘Africa’s first electric hybrid vehicle’; and thereafter in 2016, the 35-seater Kayoola Solar Bus, again ‘a first in Africa’.
“That we have talent in Uganda has been demonstrated with minimum resources… and we also have very good natural resources,” says Musasizi, the engineer-entrepreneur behind Kiira.
The government of Uganda, acting through the Uganda Investment Authority, has now allocated 100 acres of land for a vehicle assembly plant expected to open in Jinja, a town in the eastern region of Uganda, in 2018.
In contrast to the used expensive imported vehicles on Uganda’s roads, these will be factory-fresh vehicles made in Uganda.
Right now, Kiira has the three prototypes, and is looking at 305 units in the first year of production. These will mostly be pick-up trucks and buses.
The idea is to also convert the masses using public transport – mostly the ubiquitous matatus and boda bodas.
“We want to shift the market from 14-seater matatus to this. But most of all we want to reduce traffic and congestion. Our buses will be bigger to seat more people,” says Muhumuza, also an engineer.
“We realized that if we are to solve Africa’s traffic woes, the biggest need was to address public mass mobility, as that’s where the volumes and problems were. But also at the same time provide sustainable green solutions… Our emphasis was on the technology, to show that Africa can build solutions for Africa and these can be futuristic as well.”
At the time it was built, the solar bus cost an estimated $150,000 – it has solar panels on the top that powers lithium-ion batteries. If mass-produced, costs will come down.
“It’s a capital-intensive project and we are open to get tech and financing partners,” says Muhumuza, adding Kiira is in advanced talks with some technological partners.
“We are seeing a niche, a special place in public mobility in urban spaces that can be addressed by green buses,” says Musasizi.
East Africa’s automobile sector seems on track for more news. In neighboring Rwanda, there are reportedly plans to set up a Volkswagen manufacturing plant.
Outside the offices of Kiira, the prototype hybrid sedan is being ripped apart by men in blue overalls and being re-engineered. The car is a mere skeleton of its former self, but its journey on Uganda’s bustling streets, powered by an African sun, may just be about to begin.
On 29 August 2017, Nigeria’s first Building Energy Efficiency Code (BEEC) was officially launched in Abuja by the Federal Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN).
The BEEC is a set of minimum standards for energy efficient building in Nigeria. Chilufya Lombe, Director at Solid Green Consulting, says, “With the energy scarcity that is common in Africa, energy efficiency becomes very important in allowing and maintaining development. In Nigeria, we have found that energy efficiency can have a bigger impact than renewables. It is easier to build a building to consume 30 to 40% less energy than to pay to add renewable technology onto an inefficient building. In other words, we are talking about buildings that perform well from a first principles point of view.”
As technical consultants on the BEEC, Solid Green was commissioned to carry out work in four parts, namely:
- to investigate existing building practices and establish a typical baseline for residential and office buildings;
- to research building labels and incentive schemes that could encourage people to make use of the BEEC;
- to provide guidance on enforcement and control, including identifying training requirements for building code enforcement personnel, building industry professionals, developers and financiers;
- and to investigate energy modelling tools and their suitability for use in the Nigerian market.
Research for the BEEC was conducted primarily in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) but the new minimum energy efficiency requirements can be adopted by any state in Nigeria. The scope of these minimum requirements cover two building categories – residential and office buildings.
Lombe explains, “We used modelling and simulations to determine the expected energy performance of a Business as Usual building (BAU model). We then reviewed simulated variations of the BAU model as well as international references to identify the minimum efficient requirements. The simulations take into account the various climatic conditions found in Nigeria.”
Numerous stakeholder engagements were conducted in the FCT state, including workshops with design engineers, architects, financiers, technical advisors, officials from the Ministry and the State Department of Development Control. This ensured that any minimum interventions proposed were reasonable for the region and would be possible to implement; and that a balance was achieved between interventions that led to savings and ones that made sense for the first iteration of the building code.
Minimum Energy Efficiency Requirements
Under the BEEC, two compliance methods are possible – Prescriptive and Performance. For the Prescriptive option, projects must adhere to all the requirements as a checklist,
and no energy calculations are required. The Performance option looks at a whole building analysis using energy simulation software, and project teams may deviate from the prescriptive requirements provided that the theoretical energy use of the building is less than or equal to that of the same building with all the prescriptive requirements included.
To set the standard for minimum energy efficiency requirements, interventions were identified that lead to a minimum of 40% energy savings over current building practices. These interventions include:
- Overall Window to Wall Ratio must not exceed 20%;
- Shading is required when the Window to Wall Ratio exceeds 20%;
- Reduction of installed lighting power density;
- Minimum requirements for roof insulation;
- Minimum performance of air-conditioning equipment specified;
- Restricted use of non-inverter split units.
Building Energy Labels and Energy Efficiency Incentives
As an incentive for building owners and developers to comply with the BEEC, a comparative building label was developed, which rates a building depending on how many of the BEEC initiatives have been implemented. As the programme is voluntary for the first two years, this is a way of encouraging compliance with an official ‘badge of honour’.
After a voluntary period of two years, the intention is that the competent authority should make all requirements mandatory, and the label will be revised to communicate building energy efficiency on the market.
Public Education, Awareness and Training
“Campaigns to educate the public and prepare key market players are critical to the success of new building labelling and rating schemes,” Lombe observes. “Education and awareness build demand for voluntary labels and help to engage the market.
“Training has been identified as the most important enabler to effective control and enforcement of the BEEC. We carried out a survey to determine the capability of staff responsible for building permit approvals in assessing submissions related to energy efficiency in general and a BEEC in particular. From the survey, it was clear that not many of the staff have had previous exposure to the building physics elements that are important to a BEEC. Accordingly, we recommended training that focuses not only on the procedural requirements of a BEEC but also on the background knowledge of energy efficiency in general.”
The training will cover all aspects of the BEEC including understanding building physics; how to use BEEC calculation sheets; recognising correct details pertaining to the BEEC on drawings; recognising different types of equipment; and understanding the performance route to compliance. This training also has the potential to serve as a minimum qualification for staff who will process building permit approvals as well as for professionals in the construction industry.
Lombe adds that barriers to market adoption include a lack of sufficient information and understanding on the part of tenants and building owners to make well-informed investment decisions; a lack of information about the energy performance of buildings; and a misperception that energy efficiency measures make buildings more expensive.
“Training of building owners and vendors has a marked impact on participation. A look at the common barriers experienced in the procurement of products and commissioning of energy efficient buildings in the public sector immediately identifies awareness as the starting point to unlocking the remaining barriers. For example, a better understanding of life cycle costing can lead to questions around stringent policies of lowest initial purchase price requirements for equipment.”
The BEEC’s minimum energy efficiency requirements will also apply to the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing’s own buildings, and the current Ministry building was used as a case study for the BEEC technical report.
Using data from an energy audit conducted on the building together with a simulation model, it was determined what the impact would have been if the BEEC had been applied to the building when it was built, in terms of both capital and running costs.
In terms of overall capital cost savings for the project, a 40% peak load saving would have been achieved. This could have equated to a N10 million saving per generator at today’s prices. As the building has two 500kVA generators, the total saving would have been N20 million.
In terms of running costs, a N9.8 million running cost saving per year would have been achieved if the BEEC had been implemented, through the specification of roof insulation and a more efficient air-conditioning system. This represents a 32% saving on overall energy use.
Lombe concludes, “Implementing the BEEC on the Ministry project provides almost the same cost saving as providing renewable energy in the form of photovoltaics. However, the BEEC also provides a capital cost saving for the project whilst the photovoltaics require a significant capital investment.”
The BEEC’s minimum energy efficiency requirements are to be voluntary for up to a maximum of two years to give individual states an adoption and inception phase, after which the requirements will become mandatory – a significant move towards more sustainable development in Nigeria.
The LEDVANCE Floodlight family comprises seven luminaires in five wattages (20/50/100/150/200 W) and two light colors (3,000/4,000 Kelvin), achieving a luminous flux of up to 20 000 lumen and a luminous efficacy of up to 100 lumen per watt (operating temperature from –20 °C to +50 °C). They are waterproof (IP65) and have a shock resistance of IK07 (20/50 W) or IK08 (100/150/200 W). These LED outdoor luminaires have a glass cover and a housing made of aluminum (100/150/200 W) or plastic (PC; 20/50 W). They come with a guarantee of up to five years.
- Replacement for floodlight luminaires with halogen lamps (up to 1,500 W)
- Energy savings up to 90 % compared to luminaire with traditional technologies
- Very homogenous light
- Tempered glass cover to reduce glare
- Compact design: weight and size optimized
- Residential areas and courtyards
- Building facades and security
- Parking lots
Experts predict autonomous vehicles will save money and lives but drivers say human knowledge and experience are irreplaceable
Frank Black has a simple message for those who predict truckies like him are done for thanks to the arrival of self-driving vehicles: good luck getting tech support in the outback.
For more than 30 years the Brisbane truck driver has hauled goods across the vast expanses of Australia, keeping watch for fast-bouncing kangaroos, felled eucalyptus trees, and other natural obstacles littering remote highways that can run for thousands of kilometres without a single bend.
Morgan Stanley might have forecast that freight operators could save $168bn a year by replacing humans with vehicles that drive themselves with no need for toilet breaks or sleep, and Uber last year may have bought an automated truck firm with the intention to roll out a global service, but Black remains at ease with his job security.
He predicts any freight companies that go down that road in Australia will find their expensive automated vehicles stuck out in the middle of nowhere, awkwardly parked in front of an obstacle that requires human ingenuity to work around.
“The conditions of the road out there, you’ve got to have your wits about you,” he says. “An automated truck would probably have a hissy fit, where a human would realise, ‘OK, I might have to detour off-road into the gully to get around it.’
“Truckies can use their sense of smell, too. If the engine starts to get hot, you can smell the coolant and go, ‘Hang on, something’s going on here,’ [and] pull over before something catastrophic happens.”
The harsh conditions faced by truckers on the job might seem to Black an argument for retaining human imagination but to proponents of automated vehicles they are a case for the opposite: machine intelligence immune to the fallibilities of drivers who routinely make deadly fatigue-related mistakes or resort to amphetamines to stay alert.
It is a theory that has been put into practice in Australia: Rio Tinto has been relying on a fleet of driverless trucks at its iron ore mines in the Pilbara for years, yielding performance improvements of 12%.
A PWC study in 2015 predicted an 80% chance that Australia’s 94,946 professional drivers of road and rail vehicles would be replaced by automation in the next two decades. The prospect has union officials extremely concerned.
The Transport Workers Union national secretary, Tony Sheldon, warns that freight operators need to be “careful not to get carried away with the Jetsons”, arguing that trucks driving themselves in a controlled environment like a mine is one thing, but that significant improvements would need to be made to the technology and to smart road infrastructure before such vehicles could zoom unattended through cities and towns.
He references Fiat Chrysler’s recall this month of 1.2m trucks owing to software vulnerability to being hacked as an example of the kind of dangers that would be exacerbated by self-driving freight.
“There is a serious question about the capacity for this technology to be hijacked by terrorism or some random lunatic,” he says.
“These aren’t washing machines we are talking about. These are machines carting thousands of litres of fuel, tens of tonnes worth of product that could plough through a house.”
The chair of the Australian Trucking Association, Geoff Crouch, concedes the transition to self-driving vehicles “won’t occur in one leap”. Instead he describes a gradual process starting with the autonomous braking technology being rolled out across the industry, and a trial this year in Western Australia of “platooning”, which would see the lead truck in a convoy control the others through vehicle-to-vehicle communication to synchronise speed and braking.
“There will be drivers in the cabs of our trucks for many years to come,” he says.
“The immediately foreseeable future of truck automation won’t involve replacing drivers anyway, and our road network requires considerable work before even current technologies become usable everywhere. In addition, truck drivers carry out a host of other essential tasks, including loading and unloading, checking vehicles and working with customers.”
Crouch says the transition will be one of the talking points at the Trucking Australia 2017 conference in Darwin in June.
Brendan Richards, a partner at the corporate restructuring firm Ferrier Hodgson, will speak there on disruptive technologies.
Richards’ talk will cover a broad range of changes he believes will impact on the freight sector by 2050.
In terms of autonomous vehicles, he predicts self-navigating drones of all shapes and forms will open up routes previously inaccessible to human drivers.
He can foresee an operating system that would run the network, optimising routes and the flow of goods through the system.
Richards also forecasts that drones will be better equipped to provide a nimbler freight service that no longer needs to move bulk goods around, as most things will be produced on-site by 3D printers that only require the delivery of raw materials.
If self-driving vehicles – whether that is lumbering autonomous trucks driving for days without rest or airborne drones zipping across the skies – do push human drivers into unemployment queues, unions want compensation.
Sheldon says the vast numbers of jobs predicted for the scrapheap because of automation require a serious rethinking of how society approaches work.
“When I was a garbo, I was replaced by vehicles that had arms,” he says. “It was hard seeing mates displaced by technology in their 30s and 40s. It was a dramatic, traumatic experience – and there were still plenty of other jobs back then.”
In the case of truckers, he suggests a licensing fee be paid by those replacing humans with self-driving vehicles, to go towards those displaced by the new technology.
It will be hard work persuading truckies like Black to relinquish the wheel, however. He is not even open to a transition period of self-driving technology working in tandem with human operators.
“There’d be no way you’d put me in a vehicle without putting me in control of it,” he says.
“Even in the case of trusting another person, I’d want to get to know them first before going great distances with them. Believe it or not, there are bad human drivers out there too. They should look at better driver training, not these driverless bloody things.”
To meet skyrocketing demand for electricity, African countries may have to triple their energy output by 2030. While hydropower and fossil fuel power plants are favored approaches in some quarters, a new assessment by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has found that wind and solar can be economically and environmentally competitive options and can contribute significantly to the rising demand.
“Wind and solar have historically been dismissed as too expensive and temporally variable, but one of our key findings is that there are plentiful wind and solar resources in Africa that are both low-impact and cost-effective,” said Ranjit Deshmukh, one of the lead researchers of the study. “Another important finding is that with strategic siting of the renewable energy resource and with more energy trade and grid interconnections between countries, the total system cost can be lower than it would be if countries were to develop their resource in isolation without strategic siting.”
The research appeared online this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in an article titled, “Strategic siting and regional grid interconnections key to low-carbon futures in African countries.” The lead authors are Deshmukh and Grace C. Wu, both Berkeley Lab researchers in the Energy Technologies Area. Much of the initial research was funded by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which is based in Abu Dhabi. Individual fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the Link Foundation to Wu and Deshmukh supported the expanded analysis on wind siting.
“As a region, Africa is in an unparalleled energy crisis rife with electricity deficiency, lack of access, and high costs,” said Wu. “How African countries and the international community tackle this crisis in the coming decades will have large social, environmental, and climate implications.”
One-of-a-kind open-source planning framework and tool
The Berkeley Lab study is the first of its kind for Africa, using multiple criteria-such as quality of the resource, distance from transmission lines and roads, co-location potential, availability of water resources, potential human impact, and many other factors-to characterize wind and solar resources. Looking at the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) and the Eastern Africa Power Pool (EAPP), which together include 21 countries accounting for half the continent’s population, it found that many countries have wind and solar potential several times greater than their expected demand in 2030.
The tool they used to make these evaluations, the Multicriteria Analysis for Planning Renewable Energy (MapRE, at mapre.lbl.gov) was developed at Berkeley Lab in collaboration with IRENA and is open-source and publicly available to researchers and policymakers.
“Usually project developers will just choose the site with the least levelized cost and best wind speeds, but in reality those aren’t the best sites,” Deshmukh said. “Often times you want development closer to transmission infrastructure or to cities so you don’t have to assume the risk involved in developing transmission infrastructure over long distances, let alone transmitting electricity across those distances. It’s difficult to quantify those costs. Our tool enables stakeholders to bring all these criteria into their decision-making and helps them prioritize areas for development and preplanning of transmission.”
Siting and grid interconnections are key
Not only did the researchers find plentiful wind and solar resources in Africa, another key finding was that system costs and impacts could be lower with robust energy trade and grid connections between countries. And if wind farms are strategically sited so as to manage peak demand, costs can be lower still.
“System costs can be further reduced if wind farms are sited where the timing of wind generation matches electricity demand rather than in areas that maximize wind energy production,” Wu said. “These cost savings are due to avoided natural gas, hydro, or coal generation capacity.”
For example, the researchers found that in a high-wind scenario in the Southern Africa Power Pool, strategic siting and grid interconnections would reduce the need for conventional generation capacity by 9.5 percent, resulting in cost savings of 6 to 20 percent, depending on the technology that was avoided.
“Together, international energy trade and strategic siting can enable African countries to pursue ‘no-regrets’ wind and solar that can compete with conventional generation technologies like coal and hydropower,” Wu said. “No-regrets options are low-cost, low-impact, and low-risk.”
With Berkeley Lab’s MapRE tool, policymakers will be able to do a preliminary evaluation of various sites on their own without having to rely on developers for technical information. “This information brings policymakers level with project developers,” Deskhmukh said. “It reduces costs for everybody and allows for a much more sustainable planning paradigm.”
In addition to Africa, the researchers have uploaded data for India and plan to add more countries, most likely in Asia. And they have held five workshops in Africa for regulators, academics, utilities, and energy officials to share the approach and findings. “They’ve been super enthusiastic,” Deshmukh said. “We’re seeing impacts on the ground.”
The amount of wind and solar currently deployed in Africa is tiny, he said. But with global prices having declined dramatically in the last decade or so, renewable energy has become a competitive alternative. And while hydropower is a significant and familiar resource in Africa, climbing costs and persistent droughts are making it less attractive.
“Just based purely on economics today wind and solar are attractive,” Deshmukh said. “It makes economic sense. Through planning around multiple stakeholder criteria and prioritizing wind and solar projects for regional energy trade, policymakers and financiers can increase their cost-competitiveness.”
Has Africa’s growth run out of steam? This question has been on the minds of many investors, business leaders and policy makers as they observe increasing interest in key industries such as agriculture, energy and technology, with however limited access to financial resources. Companies (African and international) are looking for business-building opportunities and governments are seeking to accelerate growth by diversifying their economies.
The time has come for businesses and governments across the African continent to translate opportunities into tangible economic benefits. Although Africa’s economies have diversified to an extent, more is needed to overcome economic vulnerabilities. With the need for large companies to power the continent’s growth, the agriculture industry is certainly committed to play its part.
It was a blockbuster moment for African agriculture at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) as African leaders, businesses, and major development partners pledged more than US$30 billion dollars in investments to increase production, income and employment for smallholder farmers and local African agriculture businesses over the next ten years. The collective pledges at the 2016 AGRF are believed to represent the largest package of financial commitments to the African agricultural sector to date.
There’s a call for investors and financiers to join the “Seize the Moment” campaign and keep the momentum by turning these pledges into actual business. With a key focus on production of scale, technological advancement and access to market tabled at agricultural forums and government cabinets, the African Agri Council (AAC) has developed the African Agri Investment Indaba (AAII), the gateway to bankable agri projects in Africa, as a move towards seizing the moment.
While African agriculture has seen significant progress, there’s a greater need to emphasize on the impact of lack of financial resources in the agriculture industry to ensure a good return for our progress. Much more is needed for African countries to feed themselves and the world.
Do you want to gain access to investment and key partners that will take your company and agri projects to the next level? The African Agri Investment Indaba (AAII) 2016, taking place from the 28 – 30 November 2016 at the CTICC in Cape Town, is the meeting place for senior government officials, executives and entrepreneurs across the agri value chain. With over $1bn worth of projects already in our database and a growing investor participation competing for the best projects to grow their agri portfolio, AAII 2016 is the ideal deal-making forum.
For more information, please visit our website (www.agricouncil.org and www.agri-indaba.com).
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African Agri Council, Julia Barton-Hill, Key Stakeholder Relations and Marketing Director – African Agri Council on 083 456 5308 or email@example.com www.agri-indaba.com
ABOUT THE AFRICAN AGRI COUNCIL
The African Agri Council is a network of global executives, decision makers and key stakeholders in Africa’s agricultural industry. It connects executives with their peers, policy makers, investors & financiers and leading global service providers across Africa and around the world.