You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2010.

by Chris Yelland, managing director, EE Publishers,

Once again, public sector governance issues, and battles between the CEO, the board and the responsible minister have rocked South Africa. Eskom, SAA, Transnet, the SABC… and now, in the latest saga, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA). On 15 November 2010, Chairperson Cecilia Khuzwayo indicated that the regulator had suspended its CEO, Smunda Mokoena, for “alleged gross transgression of NERSA’s code of conduct”. Whilst official spokesman Charles Hlebela would not be drawn on the specifics, an article in The Times on 15 November went a step further, quoting a source alleging that that “quite recently he (the CEO) chaired a meeting completely drunk”, and that “he had a drinking problem that was getting out of hand”… (more)


The SADC has adopted the European standard for digital terrestrial broadcasting. In addition, the region has adopted the latest version of the standard, known as digital video broadcasting terrestrial version 2, or DVB-T2. The question now is whether South Africa will go it alone and adopt the Japanese/ Brazilian standard, or whether the government will return to its original decision and continue with DVB-T or its updated version DVB-T2… (more)

Choosing the Japanese standard for digital terrestrial television (DTT) will cost South Africa at least R700-million – if not more. In 2006 the Minister of Communications gazetted a policy for applying a switch-over to the European system, DVB, which had already been adopted by over 120 countries worldwide. However, a renewed debate recently revealed that the adoption decision has to include the Japanese and Brazilian ISDB-T standard… (more)

Reliable sources have revealed that the cabinet has decided to withdraw a bill published on 17 June 2009 proposing an amendment to the constitution of South Africa in respect of the existing entrenched rights and obligations of local government entities (i.e. municipalities) to distribute electricity. This decision by the cabinet is said to be the precursor to the disbanding of EDI Holdings (Pty) Ltd by 1 April 2011. EDI Holdings is a state owned company that was established by government on 1 July 2003 to project-manage the restructuring of the EDI… (for more see

President Jacob Zuma officially opened the Camden Power station, which is the first in the world to be brought back on line after a lengthy period of inactivity, on 23 October 2010… (more)


It is not polite to say “I told you so”, but your erudite readers will recall that I remarked  last month that it would be very difficult to pick the right answer from about 4-million different ones. And that’s exactly what happened with IRP2010… (more)

While some sources say Mao Zedong was responsible for even more deaths than Stalin (a recent book, “Mao: The unknown story,” gives the enormous figure of 70-million), the book “China builds the bomb” by Lewis and Litai focuses on another unknown story, the Chinese nuclear programme… (more)

Cars are often compared based on how many miles per gallon, or litres per kilometre, they get. Alternative supply-side resources are typically compared based on their levelised costs, in cents/kWh. Even though an imperfect metric, it allows a simplistic way to compare. But is it an appropriate measure when comparing intermittent renewables?… (more)

The commitment to regulatory compliance, plus the aspiration to be seen as a “green” organisation, are driving a change in technology in the power generation industry. Diesel engines are becoming cleaner and greener… (more)

The market for power factor correction (PFC) equipment in South Africa has been driven by the electricity tariffs related to power factor and reactive energy. As a result, the market for industrial and mining PFC has been very quiet, but this is expected to change suddenly as Eskom plans to implement a “low power factor” charge from July 2011… (more)

The use of power factor correction capacitors can result in resonance in circuits where harmonics are present. In order to understand the PFC capacitor affect on harmonic current,we need to understand the harmonic sources and their nature… (more)

The requirement to connect renewable generation to the grid presents technical and non-technical challenges. What are the current Eskom challenges regarding the grid integration of renewable energy? What plans are in place and what progress is being made by Eskom to address these challenges? (more)

Recent studies have shown that the single act of reducing the average consumer voltage levels in the acceptable voltage range results in significant positive changes on the power system. The advanced capabilities of modern LTC transformer and regulator tapchanger controls, distribution capacitor bank controls and communication equipment allow for an unprecedented ability to control the voltage profile from distribution substation to the ultimate customer… (more)

ABB’s global consulting business was able to help a global steel producer to find circa R150-million in annual energy savings at one of its integrated steel mills, through the application of a structured industrial energy efficiency program… (more)

Changes in metering technology have shifted the focus to monitoring and management systems. It seems the heart of the management systems is being overlooked and a revisit to the heart is necessary to help reduce non-revenue water (NRW). A simple change can bring about a significant reduction in NRW… (more)

Aside from reliability and disposal issues, the cumulative effect of many low-wattage compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) on our supply grid can cause problems… (more)

With the Kyoto Protocol expiring in 2012, South Africa could design its own carbon emissions trading scheme to suit the African market, says Deloitte sustainability and climate change manager, Peter Oldacre.  So far, Africa’s uptake of carbon reduction projects has been slow compared to other developing regions… (more)

The use of biomass gasification not only allows for the development of private power by industry, it also allows for the benefit of industry players from attractive REFIT tariffs offered by government, as well as the awarding of CDM credits for trade in the international CDM market… (more)

It happened in the case of wind energy, and it is happening again with solar technology. It is called “learning by doing” and is accelerated by the so-called economies of scale… (more)

Those of us who were fortunate to be able to attend the recent AMEU Conference had the opportunity of hearing speakers offering advice on and potential solutions to the myriad facets of distributing electricity in the challenging environment in which we find ourselves… (more)

Broadband issues have again dominated the telecoms scene during the past year, but at a different level- moving from international connectivity to local backbone issues… (more)

The recent economic turmoil saw telecoms companies demonstrate resilience and adaptability, with many using the slowdown as an opportunity to retool and regroup to build a solid base from which to capitalise on the recovery… (more)

Eileen was recently in South Africa to deliver a lecture at the invitation of IBM. Her first mission was the first leg of a new joint space main programme between Russia and the United States… (more)

It feels as if a tsunami has hit the South African communications industry with one clean sweep of a tidal wave moving obstacles out of the way and creating a new environment – and all that in a short space of time… (more)

Virtualisation is an important technology. In part one of this article published in the July 2010 issue of EngineerIT, the author looked at the technical aspects of this technology. In this concluding article the author looks at why virtualisation on its own is not a silver bullet… (more)

Investments in software applications can achieve significant return on investment for small and medium enterprises – despite the perceived high up-front costs… (more)

The author shares his perspective on the changes he expects the USB 3.0 standard to precipitate in the marketplace and the challenges it will present in the engineering lab… (more)

Network security gateways are under siege. New threats are being launched faster than ever and are increasingly targeting application-layer vulnerabilities… (more)

Advancements in cellular packet technology provide painless and cost-effective wireless solutions for remote environmental monitoring systems… (more)

Seldom in South Africa’s industrial history has there been four companies working together to bring one unique product to market. It is called MAPS… (more)

The automation world talks Ethernet. However, the sheer number of industrial-grade Ethernet components, coupled with requirements for seamless data transmission at the factory level, create the need for a high-performance network infrastructure… (more)

During the last 20 years, the internet has enabled us to easily share data and connect with others using text, image, music and video. It seems that each year, as bandwidth and computing power increase and network communications become ever more ubiquitous, sharing ideas becomes easier, faster and cheaper… (more)

Research at the Mathematical Optics Group uses “twisted” light to study new quantum-based information security systems. In order to understand the structure of “‘twisted” light, it is useful to start with an ordinary light beam with zero twist, namely a plane wave… (more)

“I have installed a cheap surge and lightning protector I bought at the Hypermarket  – so what is all the fuss about?” This is often heard in the home as well in the office… (more)

This is the story about the oldest amateur radio organisation is the world – the Wireless Institute of Australia – celebrating its centenary this year… (more)

• Bharti Airtel’s partnership strategy to boost service
• Angolan government to spend US$48-million on multimedia libraries
• Zimbabwe’s tech infrastructure “23 years behind”
• Tanzania’s Zantel expands its network coverage
• Al-Shabaab bans mobile money transfers in Somalia
• Nigeria’s Jonathan approves Nitel sale to consortium
• Telecom price wars reduce Uganda’s inflation
• Telkom Kenya slashes CDMA charges
• Mozambique government creates confusion over mobile tax
• Rwandatel’s subscriber base up 35,2% in three months… (more)

IRiver Story – the ultimate gift this Christmas – more than just an e-book reader; real coffee – not really a gadget, but on the wish list!;
desktop-format photo frame – claimed to be the first digital photo frame in a 6 cm screen size desktop format… (more)

Students at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) will build a second satellite… (more)

Southern Mapping Company (SMC), an airborne survey company using light detection and ranging (lidar) has invested in hyperspectral imaging technologys… (more)

The merging of HartRAO National Research Facility with the KAT-7 operations is intended to consolidate South Africa’s efforts in radio astronomy… (more)

Two NASA spacecraft have been assigned a new mission after successfully completing their original science objectives… (more)

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Rob Davies, has appointed 15 people from various government departments, academia and industry to serve on the South African Council for Space Affairs (SACSA)… (more)

Prof. Manfred Helberg, professor emeritus of physics and senior research associate at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, will head up the Astronomy Desk at the Department of Science and Technology (DST)… (more)

by W L O Fritz and D C Kallis, Cape Peninsula University of Technology

At the 51st national ANC conference in December 2002 it was resolved that in the rationalising of electricity distribution, viable and affordable electricity supply should be ensured on the foundation of a minimum free basic electricity service to all households… (more)

by Dr. C G Carter-Brown, P Fowles, G Francis, H Boshoff, R Du Preez, J Kalichuran, C Hempel, D Potgieter, D Zondi, G Booysen and S Bhana

In June and July 2010 South Africa hosted a world class FIFA Soccer World Cup, with 32 teams competing in 64 games without any supply interruptions to key sites during critical times. This paper summarises the activities of the South African electricity supply industry to coordinate preparations and ensure that the event was supplied with reliable high quality power… (more)

by Amal Khatri, Eskom

Eskom, the South African electricity utility, is facing a diverse range of social and economic challenges. This is hampering business progress and infrastructure growth, which are elements key to the long term sustainability of the utility. The key to having a sustainable business is the alignment of processes and technologies to meet the demands of present and future network uncertainties. Success will depend largely on the optimal use of assets and strategic investments… (more)

by Corrie Visagie, Eskom

It has been clear from events towards the end of 2007 and into 2008 that there is an inadequate supply-demand balance in South Africa. The global economic downturn during the second half of 2008 gave some temporary respite to the electricity system, but demand has already picked up to the 2008 levels and is growing, while we are not adding significant new generation plant to the system until Medupi’s first unit is planned to come on line in 2012… (more)

by C L M Pierini, NETGroup

Power system performance is influenced by many factors. This report is a simplified look at the impact of protection equipment and protection settings on the performance of power systems and areas where this may be mitigated and/or improved. This paper is of an academic nature and does not quantify the results before and after intervention… (more)

by Dr. W J de Beer, N Waters, L Annamalai, EDI Holdings

This paper discusses benchmarking distribution electric utility industry performance in the South African environment. In addition, given the performance data now available as a consequence of 33 completed municipal ringfencing projects, the paper provides a contextualisation of the data and an interpretation of the relative performance of the ringfencing participants, by utilising benchmark data and best practice information sourced in the broader international distribution utility context… (more)

by Silas Zimu, City Power

The incidence of conductor and material theft is on the increase. As with other electricity distributors, City Power (CP) has been proactive in dealing with the problem of theft and is using various methods to combat this scourge… (more)

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