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Investors show huge interest in SA’s wind and solar programme

PRIVATE sector investment in renewable energy generation will reach R193bn following the announcement on Sunday of another 13 preferred bidders for wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) projects by Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

Renewable energy is regarded as the quickest way to add capacity to the grid, but, as it is weather-dependent, it cannot provide base-load capacity. SA’s renewable energy programme is the fastest growing in the world and has seen large investment flow into the country, while prices of energy production have fallen.

In order to accelerate the programme, Ms Joemat-Pettersson said in April that in addition to the 13 bids she selected in the fourth window, a further 13 projects that were good to go would be added at a later date. The addition means SA has commissioned 92 renewable projects with the potential to add 6,327MW of capacity to the grid.

As part of their bids, independent power producers are obliged to contribute to socioeconomic development in the relevant area, with R19.1bn committed in projects in the next 20 years.

Several large multinational and foreign national power utilities in partnership with local entities have shown a keen appetite for the programme, which has four rounds, with a fifth anticipated in the second quarter of this year. As technology improves and risk diminishes, prices of renewable energy in SA’s projects have been plummeting.

The Department of Energy’s deputy director-general Ompi Aphane said “there had been an overwhelming interest from local and foreign investors who offered excellent prices, which demonstrates confidence in public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the South African energy sector”.

The process works through a competitive bid system in which bidders strike a power purchase deal with the department on behalf of Eskom, which undertakes to buy the power they produce.

Since the first window bid in 2011, the solar photovoltaic energy price has dropped 76% and has fallen 55% for wind. Wind tariffs are now competitive with the predicted cost of producing coal-fired energy at Medupi and Kusile.

Mr Aphane said the country had the potential to become “a global player for alternative solutions that will ultimately unlock Africa’s potential”.

In her budget vote speech last month Ms Joemat-Pettersson also presented plans to expand the production of energy by other fuels. Most significant was the release of a request for data for gas-fired generation. She said the request would “guide the design of a gas-to-power procurement programme” with a combined 3,126MW allocation.

The Gas Utilisation Master Plan, which is a critical building block of establishing a natural gas sector, was “in the final stage of internal approval” and would be released for public comment within the next three months, she said.

The first request for coal-fired generation by independent power producers, which was announced last December and was due to close this month, would be extended for another two months “in order to ensure a successful procurement process with firm results”.

The minister said the procurement of 9,600MW of nuclear energy would begin next month. The process to choose “a strategic partner” would be complete by the end of the financial year.

Article Source: Business Day Live


New solar PV backup solution launched

Powermode, a Johannesburg-based power-provisioning specialist has launched a new addition to the Soltra range of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy generating solutions.

The high capacity Soltra GTB 10 000, which complements the successful Soltra GTB 3000 in the Powermode lineup, is a 10kVA capacity, utility grid-connected, hybrid solar PV power system targeted at small-to-medium-size enterprise and domestic markets.

“The Soltra GTB 10 000 is designed to help businesses and households cope with load-shedding and power outages, functioning as a back-up rather than a complementary power source in these eventualities. This sets it apart from conventional solar PV power systems,” says Jack Ward, Powermode MD.

He says the GTB 10 000 is aimed at larger-sized installations, where it is capable of dealing with bigger loads with a greater degree of backup battery autonomy. “It is also able to obviate the need for costly diesel generators in noise-conscious environments,” notes Ward, who adds that it’s ideal for rooftop installations.

The new unit features an integrated charge controller and inverter and can be operated in three modes: linked to the electricity grid (grid-tied); as grid-tied unit with battery backup (in a hybrid configuration); or as a stand-alone hybrid unit.

The GTB 10 000’s built-in electronic monitoring system facilitates the back-up, by automatically drawing current from storage batteries when the mains power fail. “Switchover time is a rapid 15 milliseconds,” says Ward, adding that this is designed to protect sensitive computer and other delicate equipment from power ‘brownouts’ and ‘spikes’ common to South Africa’s unpredictable electricity supply.

The computerised system is also able to automatically prioritise its power delivery channels; to back-up batteries to facilitate recharging during daytime, for example, or to appliances during user-definable peak periods. At other times the system will automatically juggle power sources between, solar, batteries and the grid to meet changing demands based on individual consumption dynamics.

“In addition, the unit is also able to feed power back into the utility grid – legislation permitting – slowing or even reversing consumption meters to significantly minimise costs to the consumer.”

Ward says the Soltra GTB 10 000 and its companion, the popular GTB 3000, represent a new-generation of cost-effective modular solar solutions requiring a comparatively low initial investment.

“The units can be expanded in terms of capacity to meet future demands. They can also be configured as three-phase solutions to meet commercial and industrial users’ requirements,” he explains.

With the escalating cost of utility power and the imminent arrival of ‘smart metering’ systems that will allow municipal authorities to bill for electricity consumption at much higher rates during peak periods in a process known as time-of-day-billing, Ward maintains that solar solutions will soon be on par with conventional power from the perspective of amortised installation and maintenance costs.

“This is particularly relevant as prices are expected to rise exponentially for power consumed during peak periods in the near future,” he adds.

Article source: Cape Business News 

Solar Powered Classrooms In Focus

Cape Town – The South African technology company Ambit’s solar powered classroom is poised to provide “off-grid” electricity and connectivity to rural classrooms and help teachers overcome the pitfalls of load shedding.

It not only harnesses the continent’s most abundant resource, the sun, but can also provide power for the rest of the school.

The so-called education delivered intelligently (EDI) classroom is a standard, modular container-sized, fully operational classroom and ICT hub in one. It is already used with great success at the TlamaTlama Primary School in Tembisa on the East Rand.

Visitors to the upcoming SABC Education African EduWeek in Johannesburg from July 1 to 2 will be able to see an example of the EDI solar powered classroom on the Ambit Technology stand on the expo floor.

Conquering the digital divide

“The EDI solar powered classrooms are designed to be used in rural, remote or even urban areas,” said Louise van Loggerenberg, director of Ambit.

“Standard systems seamlessly integrate with solar PV, wind turbines and a range of other renewable sources. The classroom is fully insulated and can be supplied with electric lighting, heating or cooling and internet connectivity.”

The project was launched in July 2013 and 32 solar classroom solutions will be delivered and implemented by the third quarter of 2015.

Article source: Fin24


Only 5 000 solar geyser rebates

Cape Town – The Department of Energy says only 5 000 solar water geysers can be installed in its rebate programme – and once that figure has been reached, no further rebates will be available.

The department issued a statement on Friday to correct misconceptions created by its earlier statement on the programme.

It issued a “clarification note” to correct the impression that the department would issue rebates for the installation of up to 5 000 units a month – which would be 2 000 more than were installed when Eskom ran the rebate programme.

However, the Energy Department said once a total of 5 000 solar water geysers had been installed, “no further rebates will be available”.

It said a new, revised rebate programme would be introduced “in due course”.

The programme was transferred from Eskom to the Department of Energy on February 1.

Under the rebate programme, consumers buy and have solar water geysers installed and can then claim back a rebate from the government, which varies according to the size and quality of the system.

It is different from the government mass roll-out of free solar geysers to poorer households, which closed in December 2012. Because price was an important consideration, these were all cheaper, low-pressure solar geysers.

Eskom said the reason this programme came to a halt was because the government had introduced a tender scheme for suppliers, but no suppliers were compliant with the requirement of 70 percent local content for both the tank and the collector.

Article source: IOL


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