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by EE Publishers staff reporter
At its annual general meeting on 26 March 2010, outgoing president of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE), du Toit Grobler, and honorary treasurer Les James reported “a significant fraud” having taken place within the SAIEE during the year ending 31 December 2009. The qualified audit report presented by external auditors PriceWaterhouseCoopers at the AGM states that “An employee stole   R703 452 due to fraudulent transactions. A forensic audit has been conducted, but has not yet been completed. A further amount of R234 320 relating to the financial year has been identified as suspicious transactions. As the forensic audit is underway, the impact on the financial statements could not be established”… (more)


EngineerIT recently conducted a panel discussion around the question: “How have next generation networks (NGNs) changed the face of the communications business in SA? Panellists were Paul Inglesby of Telkom, Geoff Carey of Tellumat Wireless Solutions and Rudie Raath of HP. The three panelists agreed that right now we do not have a complete NGN in South Africa… (more)

Updates on space and beyond: How SA should take its satellite launch facility out of mothballs; NASA’S Chandra reveals origin of key cosmic explosions; another node for the International Space Station; NASA and Italian Space Agency find new use for module and FRD sponsors students for SA Amsat Space Symposium… (more)

“Innovation in amateur radio” is an 18-month project by the South African Amateur Radio Development Trust (SAARDT).  According to Hannes Coetzee, ZS6BZP, while amateur radio is one of the oldest and still the most rewarding of all the scientific hobbies, there comes a time when one has to look at innovation, new ideas and new technologies to keep the activities relevant and exciting… (more)

To be green or not green is the question. Or is it? How many green stories are real or are just another marketing ploy? We must give it to the marketers that they can find something green in just about everything they are trying to sell. But there are many real green stories and it is those that I would like to feature on our green issues page… (more)

Optin has recently done some process control projects where very focused and precise graphical information proved to be vital to the proper running of a new and advanced process plant. The graphics required are not the typical status, graphs or number trends that require interpretation by the operator as to what is happening… (more)

The notion of leveraging IT to deliver healthcare services is not new. There are many efforts across the continent focusing on tele-medicine and tele-health with the aim of reducing costs and improving access to healthcare. These efforts range from complex electronic medical projects to digitising X-rays and automating data capture in hospitals… (more)

Remember the nickel cadmium (NiCd) batteries? For many years these batteries were the favoured rechargeable batteries to power portable equipment. While NiCds offered an energy density double that of lead acid cells, and the batteries could withstand a high rate of charging and discharging, it was the memory effect that users disliked… (more)

According to Andy Brauer, CTO of  Business Connexion, although the limits of silicon are being pushed, there is an ultimate physical limit of the speeds that can be achieved. Perhaps what the chip manufactures have achieved thus far is something we can live with – well at least for the time being. Brauer has a different view. He believes that there is something more at stake than just the silicon limitation… (more)

At the recently-held Battle for Broadband Symposium arranged by EngineerIT, speakers offered many new insights into how the battle for broadband is being won. In many cases, not as fast as most of us would like but progress is being made. Speakers also offered insights into how businesses  both large and small will benefit from the broadband of tomorrow. They all believe that tomorrow is around the corner… (more)

Hans van de Groenendaal finds out in conversation with Martin Creaner why 4G wireless is the hottest issue in the telecoms world.  Creaner was in Johannesburg for Management World Africa 2010, hosted by the TM Forum of which he is the president and chief technical officer. With 4G wireless communications a regular discussion point, it was an opportunity to get his views on the 4G hype sweeping the telecommunications world… (more)

Reprisals from recently departed employees and a lack of adequate security budgets and resources are becoming major concerns for senior IT professionals. This was revealed in the 12th annual Ernst & Young 2009 Global Information Security Survey… (more)

Smartphones have made a dramatic entry into corporate South Africa, far surpassing general consumer or small business use.  This is a surprise finding from a new research study recently released by World Wide Worx. The Mobile Corporation in SA 2010 report reveals that three quarters of South African companies have deployed smartphones within their organisations, compared to almost none two years ago… (more)

A constant supply of  natural gas to power stations and marketing networks is maintained through integrated production, transportation and distribution. The authors discuss how SCADA systems improve liquefied natural gas operations and management of a plant in China… (more)

There are many arguments for and against the idea of standardising on instrumentation from one supplier, and not to mix and match systems from various suppliers. Over the past five years there has been a substantial amount of rationalisation in the instrumentation industry… (more)

The use of wireless technology in industrial automation systems offers a number of potential benefits, from the obvious cost reduction brought about by the elimination of wiring to the availability of better plant information, improved productivity and better asset management… (more)

University of Pretoria’s Carl and Emily Fuchs Institute for Microelectronics (CEFIM) has been involved in cutting-edge semiconductor research since its inception. As a main focus of interest, complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) is arguably the most successful semiconductor technology to date… (more)

As the telecoms industry gears itself up for a year of both exponential growth and fundamental regulatory changes, so the strategic choices and decisions adopted by the market will determine not only the ability of businesses to meet the growth opportunities presented, but in many cases absolute survival in an increasingly competitive market… (more)

The East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) – one of the nine undersea telecommunications cables that will connect various parts of sub-Saharan Africa to the rest of the world by 2011 – will go into operation in August this year. Cable-laying started at both ends at Mtunzini, on the northern KwaZulu-Natal coastline and Djibouti in Sudan…(more)

Quantum computing is based on different mathematics and different hardware from conventional, binary computing. Still in development, it will have unique advantages when it becomes a reality… (more)

Ever wondered why it costs more to maintain plant instrumentation than it did to purchase it in the first place? PROFIBUS International (represented in South Africa by the Southern African Regional PROFIBUS Association (SARPA) announced at their 20th anniversary that there are now more than 30-million PROFIBUS nodes installed worldwide. Yet in South Africa we are seeing a trend to steer away from these technologies for instrumentation… (more)

Ever wondered why it costs more to maintain plant instrumentation than it did to purchase it in the first place? In truth it is our engineering competence which is preventing the successful implementation. The result is incorrectly-designed and often incorrectly-installed networks… (more)

Having witnessed how electricians operate in other countries I’m horrified at the state of the electrical industry in SA. The general standard of work is very poor and many of our call outs are to fix problems created by others – unqualified people, unsupervised people, illegal or foreign ‘electricians’… (more)

Is it acceptable for a registered person only to come on site once the installation has been completed? This is a very important question, and one that all electrical contractors must consider, especially when tendering or quoting for work as the cost of supervision must be built in… (more)

This article explains why contract price adjustment is becoming more important than ever before. In spite of the unpredictability in the economy, companies and suppliers are still entering into long-term partnering agreements or contracts (i.e. three years or longer)… (more)

As per the latest directive from the Electrical Contracting Board (ECB) of SA, the Certificate of Compliance for electrical installations (CoC) as published in the Electrical Installation Regulations 2009 must be issued. This COC must be accompanied by a “test report” (TR), which must be in the format as published in SANS 10142-1… (more)

The National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) is tasked to administer compulsory specifications and other technical regulations. It protects consumers and the environment by enforcing compulsory specifications. Through its Legal Metrology division it also ensures accuracy and suitability of measuring instruments, control of quantity and assessment and designation of private verification laboratories… (more)

The lighting installation at the Cape Town Stadium in Green Point is a noteworthy achievement. An image of the illuminated stadium brought to mind a massive, glowing spaceship, with its glass ceiling – a first in the world – enhancing the almost unearthly spectacle… (more)

On the shores of Lake Victoria, people have been using kerosene lamps to catch fish and light their homes for generations. But this dirty fuel poses a serious threat to health and the environment. A pilot project is being conducting that offers local residents energy-saving lamps that provide a clean, safe lighting source far from power grids – without straining household budgets… (more)

This year’s competition is not just for luminaires – it’s for lighting systems too. Eskom’s Energy Efficient Lighting Design Competition for 2010 challenges both the novice and the seasoned to come up with their own, unique fusion of flair and functionality, efficiency and aesthetic appeal in designing an energy-efficient luminaire (or in plain language, a lamp!) and more… (more)

As natural fossil fuel resources are rapidly depleting and energy costs ever increasing, it is critical for South Africa to address the use of biofuels to supplement the energy sources currently being used. Brazil has managed very successfully to turn waste from the sugar harvesting process (bagasse) into energy… (more)

Motors generally consume up to 60% of the total energy bill, so a good way  to begin any energy cost savings programme is to pay close attention to induction motor control. The applications in which energy savings can be achieved include pumps, fans, compressors, hoisting systems and conveyors with high duty cycles… (more)

Power electronic systems are used in day-to-day applications. The sophisticated technology behind the scenes, however, often goes unnoticed. As an example, take public transport vehicles such as the underground, trams or trolley buses: the only time the systems that run these vehicles are noticed is when they fail to work properly, as when people get trapped in a stalled metro train… (more)

Low hanging power lines are one of the major causes of injury and death in communities and have cost the lives of many people in the last two years, says Eskom’s Public Safety Division.Besides the loss of life that has resulted through people coming into contact with power lines, hundreds of people and animals have suffered electrical burns or been maimed through electrocution… (more)

2010 is the start of a new decade, and the future suddenly looks a lot closer. For instance 2012, the original scheduled date for completion of the first unit at Medupi Power station is only two years away. 2013, the date by which we are destined to have 10 000 GWh of renewable energy generation is only three years away, and 2015 is only five. Ambitious plans need to be made in the next few years if the promises of this decade are to be met… (more)

Since the dawn of the industrial revolution, humankind has managed to extract ever increasing amounts of fossil fuels to feed a growing global economy. Every now and then an obstacle would present itself, but human ingenuity and advancements in technology would typically fix the problem… (more)

There’s been a lot of media coverage of the pending World Bank loan of US$3,75-billion for Eskom. According to  analysts, it is unlikely that the loan will not be granted. But who is the World Bank, how does it make its decisions, and what are the stakes?… (more)

Many of the presentations given at the NERSA public hearings on the MYPD application point out the pain that high tariff increases will bring on individual sectors and the whole economy. Figures estimated give unemployment losses of from 200 000 to 500 000. It could hold back the recovery from the recession, require interest rates to be kept high and put hundreds or thousands of small businesses out of business. With such massive negative consequences from a decision by NERSA and Eskom they must take the alternative solutions offered very seriously… (more)

What on earth does a long-forgotten statistic about the use of Danish wind turbines in the 1917 – 1918 winter of World War I have to do with energy use today? And, more pointedly, why am I using it to start this article, which is being published in South Africa… (more)

Climate change has become one of the most talked about and argued about subjects in recent times. Everybody seems to have an opinion on the issue, and heated arguments flow back and forth in the media and social networks between supporters and opponents of the theory. The issue has a major impact on the future of power generation, and has spawned a renewed interest in nuclear power stations for the future… (more)

The Smart Grid is a vision of a better electricity delivery infrastructure. Smart Grid implementations dramatically increase the quantity, quality, and use of data available from advanced sensing, computing, and communications hardware and software. As a result, they help utilities address two of today’s most important business drivers: environmental concerns and power delivery constraints and disturbances… (more)

Electricity theft, by-passing of meters, failure to pay bills, failure to bill correctly all get labelled as “non-technical losses”. This scourge accounts for at least 3600 MW or one “six pack” power station. Eskom is currently constructing new power stations and the equivalent cost is R107-billion. These losses drain Eskom and Municipal resources and are a significant part of the reason for the huge increases in electricity tariffs… (more)

Intermediate voltage cable (1,9 / 3,3 kV ) has a reduced lifetime compared with standard LV or MV cables, because of higher operating electrical stress and low cost design.  Aberdares’ Interdac range of low cost intermediate voltage cables was introduced to the South African market to fill a very specialised niche, where failure is of little consequence… (more)

In the future, most wind turbines will not stand alone in a field, but together with other wind turbines as part of large wind farms on land or at sea. If yield and durability are to be perfect, the location of each wind turbine must be planned carefully. The Risø-led EU project TOPFARM provides the tools for a more rational design of wind farms… (more)

Power electronic systems are used in day-to-day applications. The sophisticated technology behind the scenes, however, often goes unnoticed. As an example, take public transport vehicles such as the underground, trams or trolley buses: the only time the systems that run these vehicles are noticed is when they fail to work properly, as when people get trapped in a stalled metro train… (more)

It is known that the load factors of some squirrel cage motors used in some industries have values in a region of 0,1 to 0,4. This value suggested that for relatively long periods the motors could run close to no-load, and that the motors are either grossly oversized or are cycling with significant time spent near no-load or idling duty… (more)

While everybody was focusing hard on the NERSA price increases for Eskom, a very important announcement in the decision paper went almost unnoticed. Appended almost as an afterthought to the price hike announcement were several tables setting out “inclining block tariffs” for residential customers (adding RIBT to the lexicon of an industry not lacking in arcane acronyms). I doubt very much, Sir, that many customers studied this closely after having survived – or not – the shocking numbers in the first two tables… (more)

by EE Publishers staff reporter
Various media have already reported Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll as saying that Anglo would consider investing in a power station if necessary. Fin24 has reported sighting documents showing that Anglo is being considered as an investor in Kusile, the R142-billion coal-fired power station being built near Delmas, in which Eskom is seeking a 30% to 49% private equity partner, although this has since been denied. Now the Anglo website has officially announced its study for the construction of a new coal-fired power station using circulating fluidised-bed combustion technology. What will be next?… (more)

Reliability has always been one of the core demands of the energy market. One such example of reliability can be seen in the exceptional lifetime of power transformers, which often function for 50 years or more. This core demand is also fundamental for high-voltage bushings – critical components of all electrical networks, as their chief role is to prevent flashovers to ground… (more)

by EE Publishers staff reporter

There’s been a lot of media coverage of the pending World Bank loan of US$3,75-billion for Eskom. According to analysts, it is unlikely that the loan will not be granted. But who is the World Bank, how does it make its decisions, and what are the stakes?

The current funding shortfall for Eskom’s new build programme (Medupi, Kusile and Ingula) will only partially be met by the World Bank loan, and one must not lose sight of what funding is still to be secured, namely: the $3,75-billion (R27-billion) World Bank loan itself; the R8,5-billion additional borrowings required as per MYPD2; the cash shortfalls of R14-billion and R7,9-billion as per MYPD2; a price increase of some R17-billion for Medupi in coming years; and R20- to R40-billion private equity funding for Kusile. This gives a total current funding shortfall of R94- to R114-billion!… (more)

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