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The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) at its meeting held today, Wednesday, 24 February 2010, approved an allowed revenue of R85-billion for 2010/11, R109-billion for 2011/12 and R141-billion for 2012/13. This will result in the average standard price of 41,57 c/kWh, 52,30 c/kWh and 65,85 c/kWh for 2010/11, 2011/12 and 2012/13 financial years respectively. This will result in a percentage price increase of 24,8% on the average standard tariff from 1 April 2010 followed by another average increase of 25,8 % from 1 April 2011 and a further price increase of 25,9% from 1 April 2012.

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Following the “dark days” of rolling mass load shedding in South Africa, and with the constant media coverage of the current and expected “bleak” energy outlook in the country until 2014, various key stakeholders in the energy industry have radically changed their thinking and climbed on the energy efficiency “bandwagon” … (more)

During the financial year 2010/2011, all employers wishing to indenture learners in apprenticeships must first apply for the approval of discretionary grants. After those grants are approved training can start and payments from ESETA will follow. Without this approval no payments will be made… (more)

There seems to be a lot of uncertainty relating to the correct reporting and recording procedures of work-related injuries. Anyone who employs one or more workers must register with the Compensation Fund and pay annual assessment fees. When reporting and claiming from the Compensation Fund the following steps should be followed… (more)

If you have a bright energy-saving idea or have developed an innovative process for saving electricity, you could find yourself being rewarded with a cash prize of R30 000 for your efforts as well as an eta Award… (more)

Eskom has announced a new rebate level for solar water heaters.  According to Cedric Worthman of Eskom DSM, the subsidy formula has been changed to facilitate a payback period of five years, taking average costs into account… (more)

The new Electrical Installation Regulations (EIR 2009) promulgated in March 2009, brought Approved Inspection Authorities (AIAs) into the regulations to do active policing of various regulations and codes of practice within the electrical industry. The enhanced powers of AIAs as agents of the Department of Labour (DOL) should bring about much needed change in the application of safety standards… (more)

The accurate and intuitive control of public lighting is an important way to save energy and enhance safety. This applies above all for lighting solutions where safety standards dictate that the lights have to be on round the clock at different brightness levels, depending on the time of day… (more)

Vision scientists have long known that this segregation of day and night vision is overly simplistic. Nevertheless, until some recent efforts by two pragmatic scientists, the significance of a better understanding of the workings of the eye for lighting practice and lighting energy efficiency had been entirely overlooked… (more)

Coal has been the mainstay of economic development in South Africa for more than two centuries. However, the future of coal has now come into question worldwide, and serious consideration must be given to both the weaknesses and future opportunities for this commodity… (more)

More than 150 top calibre speakers will gather in Montréal in order to debate the world energy situation. The Montréal 2010 World Energy Congress has unveiled the complete program of what is, every three years, the largest international gathering on all energy sources. The theme of WEC Montréal 2010, “Responding now to global challenges – Energy in transition for a living planet”, provides a framework within which the energy industry’s four main challenges will be addressed… (more)

Almost 90% of the world’s primary energy is provided by the burning of fossil fuels: coal, oil and gas. However the era of using these cheap fossil fuels is coming to an end. At current rates of consumption reserves will last around 80 years, but with the projected increases in demand they will run out much sooner. History will show that fossil fuel use was just a 300 year blip starting around 1800. Unfortunately for mankind, this burning of fossil fuels releases CO2 into the atmosphere, causing global warming and climate change… (more)

The distributed nature of businesses has dramatically increased the complexity of the way files and data are dealt with. This article looks at why increasing bandwidth is not always the answer. Regardless of system size or area covered, companies are relying more and more on wide-area networks (WANs) to provide their employees with access to data… (more)

Baseload coal-fired plants have been designed for consistent, round-the-clock operation at full load. But today’s low natural gas prices and increased dispatch of intermittent renewable generation are encouraging the use of baseload plants for cycling duty, which can lead to component damage and reliability problems. EPRI is working with member utilities on an integrated framework of analysis, operating strategies, and design modifications that will help minimise these impacts… (more)

Unlike many biofuels, processing agricultural waste into fuel does not compete with food production, or influence food prices. On the contrary, it helps with food production, as many wastes from producing and processing animals for meat are used instead.  While some people would doubtless argue exactly how much agricultural waste can be converted into oil and gas, that is not the main point here. The point is that, agricultural waste is actually a valuable resource and can and make a much bigger contribution towards cutting fuel imports than currently produced biofuels… (more)

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has just published a report that highlights the growing problem of wind energy curtailment, which occurs when wind plants are required to or choose to reduce their generation output.  Based on case studies, the report concludes that congestion on the transmission grid caused by inadequate transmission capacity is the primary cause of nearly all wind curtailment… (more)

South Africans travelling on local and regional airlines will soon have access to the internet while travelling internally, as well as to some African destinations. According to Carel van der Merwe, CEO of WirelessG, the new service could be introduced within months and in time for the Fifa World Cup… (more)

A common problem facing utilities is equipment that has reached capacity and is unable to meet increased demand. Locally, the problem is often compounded by limited access to servitudes in urban areas. City Power was able to find an economic solution to those challenges and more by using advanced technology… (more)

The surge impedance of a power line tower is an important design parameter employed in the lightning performance and insulation co-ordination of the line. Simplified numerical models are in many cases used to determine this parameter that is costly to determine by measurement. Where equations do not exist for specific towers, such as cross rope suspension towers with guy wires, assumptions are made in determining surge impedance (more)

Many manufacturers think sustainability encompasses production processes and technologies that use the least amounts of energy and resources and minimise waste through programmes such as recycling. However, sustainable production goes way beyond that… (more)

The production of bricks is hard work. From the moist clay to the packaging of the fired bricks, both materials and processes strain the work environment of man and machine. Fire, air, earth and water have always been used for this building material, which has a history that stretches back millennia… (more)

Dust explosions are generally more difficult to initiate than gas/air explosions but can be devastating. The initial explosion frequently disturbs and entrains layered dust to create one or more secondary explosions, thus creating a rolling explosion and extensive damage… (more)

South Africa’s environmental problems are well known: a shortage of water, serious air pollution, and over-farmed land make green solutions – including ‘greener buildings’ – more important than ever. Establishing and managing a truly green building can seem like a daunting challenge for the owners or operators but the returns undoubtedly exceed the initial capital outlay, manpower and time spent to achieve it… (more)

During 2010 we will see an increase in competition in telecoms, says Aingharan Kanagaratnam, head of network solutions for Ericsson Sub-Saharan Africa. With Neotel in the picture, together with the new licences that have been awarded and WiMAX spectrum issues likely to be resolved, we can expect further developments… (more)

The authors were part of a team involved in a project to establish sectoral load profiles over the period 2004 – 2005 for Eskom. As part of the research process they were exposed to some of the typical practical issues experienced in spatial forecasting. This paper describes and documents these issues and some practical approaches which may be of value… (more)

Network connected computers already control almost all types of modern industrial production systems, water supply and electricity systems, telecommunications systems and networks. New terms such as smart grid and relay protection with artificial intelligence have emerged in technical literature rather than in science fiction. Today technical literature rather than science fiction refers to the creation of the so-called smart house, where even the refrigerator will analyse the stored products, and, based on the analysis of consumption, will make an order and send it over the network to the nearest supermarket… (more)

The global trends and challenges driving the need for industry to improve energy efficiency are well known. The growing population and economic development in many countries throughout the world has caused energy and transportation fuel consumption to increase and refiners around the world are increasing capacity to meet these needs.Higher oil and gas prices have greatly increased energy related operating costs and emphasised the need to increase energy efficiency… (more)

Sophisticated and highly susceptible microprocessor based electronics and data communication networks are integrated across every sector of today’s fast paced business world. Preserving these mission-critical systems from the damages of surges, spikes, and transients ensures that these systems are protected from equipment destruction, disruption in service, and from costly downtime… (more)

Thin films play a crucial role in the modern semiconductor industry. The use of thin film heterogeneous semiconductors enables the fabrication of many unique device capabilities. An example is the widespread use of thin film transistors (TFTs)… (more)

Stress induced by thermal cycles causes power electronic systems to have a finite service life. To estimate this service lifetime, accurate information on the thermal profile in the chips under the given operating conditions is required. This article discusses how the temperature profile can be determined without the need for specially modified modules… (more)

Lightning protection can be controversial – should certain aspects be regulated and made compulsory?  Some say yes and others believe that it should be left up to the individual. If lightning protection was made compulsory the question would be why should installations in low lightning areas be subjected to compulsory protection devices?… (more
Without power there is no business – South Africans have found that out in a very practical way. A proper on-line uninterruptable power supply not only provides back-up power in the event of a complete power failure, but also cleans and conditions the input electricity, outputting what is called “pure sine wave”. There are nine common power problems found in the average workplace environment… (more)
When deciding which uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to purchase, most factors to be considered are visible and easily understood, such as battery back-up time, cost, size, manufacturer, number of outlets and manageability. There are also less visible factors, including topology, which looks at how a UPS will operate in various environments… (more
This article discusses easy and reliable integration of automation components into wireless LAN (WLAN) networks. These facilitate mobile applications and offer a high degree of flexibility. Furthermore, they reduce installation costs when it comes to subsequent integration of machines into the plant network… (more

“The results of ABB South Africa for 2009 were similar to those of the ABB group worldwide”. said Carlos Poñe, CEO of ABB South Africa, speaking at a media briefing on thursday. “We performed well considering the tough economic conditions; our customers continued to invest in world class technology to urgently upgrade ageing electricity infrastructure. Industrial customers invested in solutions to increase energy efficiency ahead of the new electricity price regime.”… (more)

by Chris Yelland CEng, EE Publishers

This article was first published in The Daily Maverick in a slightly different form on 18 February 2010.

Last week, President Zuma gave his state-of-the-nation address, and analysts listened attentively to what he had to say about energy policy in South Africa, with particular reference to the electricity generation capacity crisis, and the direction government is taking to lead the country out of the mess in which it finds itself here. It is worth considering carefully, point-by-point, what was said in the address, in order understand the issues and nuances… (more)

Consumer electronic products are getting smaller, with electronic systems in new cars and trucks more prevalent. The aerospace and defence industries are also tightening environmental specifications as designs become smaller and more versatile. These trends require that the instrumentation used in all phases of development work well in increasingly severe environments. These pose special challenges for oscilloscopes and probes… (more)

Security concerns, resistance to change and new partnerships – all in the mixed bag of cloud computing.  Cloud computing is for many experts the ultimate way to get more computing for their buck. There are others who have major concerns about security, not trusting their business information to a third party of private clouds. Yet another group sees it as an opportunity for partnerships and new growth in an industry where budgets have been flat for some time… (more)

While there is a worldwide adoption of cloud computing in one form or another, there are still many companies and organisations who hesitate to go this route, despite the obvious advantages. Sometimes this is because they are not familiar with the concept, sometimes they are confused about what is involved, and the largest obstacle remains perceptions about security. Roy Johnson speaks to Andy Brauer, CTO of  Business Connexion, about best practices for cloud computing solutions… (more)

Innovation-wise South Africa is underperforming, relative to countries like Brazil. (see In Conversation, EngineerIT, January 2010). Back in the eighties Brazil and South Africa were in a comparable position, but now South Africa has fallen behind. Fortunately, we do have pockets of excellence, but these do not get the attention they deserve.  Hans van de Groenendaal spoke with with Derick Moolman, CEO of CSense, a small Pretoria-based company of 35 people that is making a big name for itself overseas… (more)

There are four “burning bridges” that affect government’s ability to deliver on the short and long term needs of South Africa and its people: water and sanitation, transportation, energy and urbanisation.  I believe that Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) through its membership is making a major contribution to ease government’s burden in these crucial areas… (more)

South Africa’s monumental year, 2010, has finally arrived and the buzz and excitement as the country gears up for the FIFA World Cup is tangible. Being selected as the host country for this incredible sporting event can indeed be seen as a fairy-tale to some, yet it is very real to those who have been involved in preparing for it for many years. Long after the event has come and gone, will we still celebrate it, or will the fairy-tale disappear into never-neverland just as quickly as it appeared?… (more)

More investment in clean energy technologies is needed to avert climate change Remember the days when a million dollars was a lot of money? Now, with multi billion dollar government bailouts and trillion dollar budget deficits – in the US, that is – a billion is small change. But even for people who are used to hearing big numbers, $10-trillion is a good chunk of money… (more)

Due to socio-economic pressures, state-owned electricity companies typically set prices that are too low to finance new investment. This creates additional problems when private investment is sought. This is exactly the position in which Eskom and South Africa find themselves in 2009. Developing countries often find it hard to finance investment from either internal funds or borrowing from the state… (more)

It was understandably a proud moment for South Africa when it led the charge of the BRICs (or is that now the BICS?) at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen in December last year by announcing that it would cut the growth of carbon dioxide emissions 34 % by 2020 and 42 % by 2025 if the necessary financial support was forthcoming… (more)

In their recent spate of comments, the previous leadership of Eskom made their dismay with the organization’s current leadership quite public. What is of interest in this regard is not so much the content of grievances but the origin thereof. Especially as the Eskom hierarchy has a non-critical tradition on the workings of this mega- monolith… (more)

The end of November 2009 marked for Ken King the ultimate point everyone works to throughout their career; that is retirement at that magical age of 65 years. Ken was a West Rand/Roodepoort man, where he grew up, settled down with his wife and family but is not quite retiring to, unless you call Randpark Ridge “West Rand”. It was from the West Rand that he went to the University of Witwatersrand… (more)

2010 has started and we expect it to be an exciting year! Wind Power, the official conference of the African Wind Energy Association, has already received tremendous interest from over 100 companies and organisations in more than 20 countries. Wind Power Africa, held on 12-14 May 2010, will consist of a number of plenary and break-away sessions over 3 days… (more)

If you have a bright energy-saving idea or have developed an innovative process for saving electricity, you could find yourself being rewarded with a cash prize of R30000 for your efforts as well as an eta award. This will be handed over at a gala event in Johannesburg towards the end of October 2010… (more)

Southern Mapping Company, an airborne survey company using light detection and ranging (lidar), has invested in hyperspectral imaging technology. Their current lidar equipment is able to produce a  three dimensional digital terrain model on which the images are superimposed. With the addition of the hyperspectral remote sensing technology, the company will now be able to identify individual species of plants and trees, noxious gasses and aerosols, minerals and soil types allowing them to broaden their services into the public and private agricultural, forestry, water, air quality and mining sectors… (more)

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