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by Chris Yelland, EE Publishers

On 23 August 2011, EE Publishers hosted an open panel discussion and debate in Midrand, entitled “Renewable Energy in South Africa – going backwards or forwards?” At the debate, key players in the renewable energy (RE) sector of South Africa covered the background on where the country finds itself now, as well as the road ahead in the implementation of the ambitious renewable energy targets detailed in the national integrated resource plan for electricity, IRP 2010 – 2030. This will involve the installation of some 9200 MW of wind generation capacity, 8400 MW of solar photo-voltaic (PV) capacity, and 1200 MW of concentrating solar plant (CSP) capacity by 2030… (more)


The NASA Ames Research Centre in California, USA is working on a project to use a cellphone as the on board computer (OBC) on small satellites. The basic philosophy behind the project, called PhoneSat, is to utilise commercially available off the shelf parts to make ultra-cheap satellites… (more)

Imagine being able to set your own plant alarms from the office without affecting the control system. This article explores the practical application of the concept of remote event notification (REN) for engineers and managers… yes, even managers can be practical!… (more)

Previously  considered non-deterministic, with the development of protocols such as traffic prioritisation and virtual local area networks, as well as functions within managed network devices such as broadcast throttling, Ethernet is slowly changing to a more deterministic technology… (more)

  • Ericsson wins contract to modernise Bharti Airtel’s networks
  • New optical-fibre line set to boost Angola’s telecoms
  • France Telecom looks to buy Congo China Telecom
  • Sweden’s Ericsson part of new bid to acquire Nitel
  • Airtel Tanzania expands further into rural areas
  • Namibia climbs to eighth place in Africa in cellphone affordability
  • Rwandatel to be sold to pay creditors
  • Inquiry into Uganda’s national internet project begins
  • Ghana local council closes firm’s offices over tax claim

Kenya’s mobile phone call rates set to fall again… (more)

A robust phone with integrated answering machine; Don’t miss the Rugby World Cup – watch the games with the new Drifta USB;
Just what you need for good audio – great sound from this Hipbox; MP3 player just right for the gym… (more)

The choice of batteries for your UPS or standby power system is critical and could spell the difference between such a system functioning dependably or otherwise. It could also mean the difference between profitable business continuity or costly disruption in the event of a power outage… (more)

Twenty-four children in an eastern China town were hospitalised recently, after dangerously high levels of lead were found in their blood. The children, from nine months to 16 years old, suffered from moderate to severe lead poisoning. Most of these children were living near two battery manufacturing plants… (more)

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) is the ability of electronic and electrical systems or components to work correctly when they are close together. In practice this means that electromagnetic disturbances from each item of equipment must be limited and also that each item must have an adequate level of immunity… (more)

The transmission system of Eskom is subject to a number of extraneous influences that cause line faults and consequently have a negative impact on power quality, leading to considerable costs to customers. One example is fires under power lines… (more)

Data storage is becoming a huge issue for enterprises. The demand for bandwidth is spiralling and the need for capacity is ever-growing, driven in part by legislation requiring long-term storage of financial transactions, 24/7 reliability demands and power consumption concerns… (more)

Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and other recurring conditions top the list of health threats that impact the greatest number of people and contribute to high healthcare expenses worldwide… (more)

Industry in general has been slow to utilise outsourcing of data centres and moving into the cloud. This may be due mainly to the unavailability of affordable broadband… (more)

Even within our air-conditioned offices, it’s a tough world for electronic equipment. Utility power cannot be taken for granted. Neither can other elements of the IT environment, but businesses of all sizes can take ten proactive steps to create a secure environment for IT equipment… (more)

Data centres are the backbone of information technology delivery for businesses and other organisations, with powerful servers and storage systems running business-critical technology including software applications, email and websites… (more)

As head of a late entrant into the SA mobile industry, Amith Maharaj has experienced challenges and opportunities. I learnt that with the lowest rates for mobile data, 8.ta has more to come… (more)

While capitalism has clearly won the battle of ideas over socialism, we, unlike the rest of the civilised world, seem to have turned the clock back a century. The ideological debate is again all the rage, and inevitably the same conclusion will be reached – again at a price!… (more)

So far Eskom has managed to keep the lights on this winter, but the poor state of the distribution network has resulted in numerous power outages affecting large areas throughout the country. Both generation and distribution capacity and availability need attention to avoid future blackouts… (more)

Eskom CEO Brian Dames delivered a presentation titled “State of the power system” at a recent meeting of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) to keep stakeholders informed on the utility’s progress.He said Eskom was managing a tight power system and would be on alert for the next five years while it built new capacity. Eskom had managed to keep the lights on during the first five months of 2011 thanks to demand and supplyside initiatives and the co-operation of “49-million South Africans”… (more)

Canada has replaced South Africa as the cheapest provider of electricity amongst the sixteen countries covered in its 2011 International electricity report and price survey, says international energy cost management consultancy NUS Consulting. Canada’s modest increase of 3,1% in the 12 months up to April 2011 resulted in a cost per kWh of 7,98 US cents, the lowest price of the 16 world-leading economies surveyed by NUS Consulting. In contrast,South Africa’s whopping increase of 27,8% over the same time pushed the cost of our electricity to 8,55 US cents per kWh… (more)

Of course everyone is rightly horrified by the latest steep increase in electricity tariffs and the continuing turmoil in the industry. All kinds of dire consequences are apparently to be visited upon those who consume more than their fair share. So much for price signals – the price/demand curve seems to be totally inelastic, a lesson that one cannot but hope will sink in to the powers-that-be behind the carbon tax… (more)

The future role of fossil energy is often questioned. But the remaining huge reserves of gas and coal will likely continue to be needed. A smart mix of clean fossil fuels and other sources is required. Michael Suess, CEO for fossil power generation at the Siemens Energy Sector, discusses his vision for the future energy mix and the tools that will make it happen… (more)

Eskom has embarked on an initiative to prove and implement underground coal gasification (UCG) as a clean coal technology option for power generation. Having licensed the technology from Ergo Exergy Technologies to develop UCG for South African application, the utility commissioned a pilot plant at the Majuba coalfield in Mpumalanga in January 2007 following concept, site selection, pre-feasibility and site characterisation studies in UCG… (more)

Kyshtym measured as a Level 6 disaster on the International Nuclear Event Scale, making it the third most serious nuclear accident ever recorded (after the Chernobyl disaster, and the Fukushima I nuclear accidents, both Level 7 on the INES scale… (more)

Extensive tests undertaken by CommodasUltrasort, Coaltech, Isambane and Exxaro of CommodasUltrasort’s dual energy X-ray transmission (DE-XRT) sorter at Arnot Colliery have proven that X-ray sorting is a viable dry-process technique for the de-stoning of coarse, raw coal. The XRT sorter is capable of processing up to 150 tons per hour of coarse raw coal and of effectively removing the bulk of the contaminant stone resulting in a significant improvement in the quality of the coal… (more)

The electricity regulations for compulsory norms and standards for reticulation services of the Electricity Regulations Act No.4 of 2006 specifies that all end-users or customers with a monthly usage of 500 kWh or more need to be on a smart metering system and be on a time-of-use tariff by 1 January 2012… (more)

“Copper theft can be beaten through a collaborative approach” this was the banner under which the Cape Chamber of Commerce ran a Copper theft summit in April this year. Role players involved the MEC for Safety in the province, the South African Police (SAP), Parastatals like Eskom, Transnet and Telkom, Business Against Crime (BAC), Agri-Forum, NPA, Second hand dealers, SARS, the City of Cape Town and other relevant participants. This conference came at a time when copper theft has reached epidemic proportions in our country with losses into the billions of rands… (more)

Rotek Engineering, a wholly owned subsidiary of Eskom Enterprises, in 2008 embarked on a R100-million major expansion programme by upgrading their transformer testing facilities. Their requirements were to be able to test transformers up to 800 MVA and 765 kV. This design is a first in the world where transformers of this size have been tested using static converters and a unique column regulator… (more)

This paper examines some of the factors that influence the power consumption of industrial and mining fans. It considers the main types or configurations of fans available, and indicates some of the advantages and disadvantages of each. A brief overview of the thinking related to energy saving is discussed. Methods of flow regulation, and hence power consumption for a fan, are explained by comparing actual applications… (more)

With the process engineering skills shortage, a number of big multi-site corporates are looking at technology to assist where keeping on-site experience have failed. South Africa is facing a major skills shortage, especially within the process engineering environment. Major mining, manufacturing and utility companies that have geographically spread manufacturing sites and plants are struggling to keep their specialist skills, especially in remote and rural locations… (more)

Energy efficiency improvements achieved using heat recovery processes offer benefits to both the business case and environmental impact of metallurgical facilities.The US Department of Energy reports that available waste heat sources in industry, which is approximately seven quadrillion BTU (~7400 PJ/y), exceeds the current production of all renewable power sources combined… (more)

Following the 2007 initiation of the landfill gas-to-energy clean development mechanism (CDM) project by its Infrastructure and Services Department (ISD), the City of Johannesburg has commissioned its first landfill gas-to-energy project at the active Robinson Deep landfill site, with a further four sites to follow over the next 12 months… (more)

This article details changes in the compulsory regulations and standards in the USA for electrical wiring and cabling used on industrial machinery. Although the article refers to the USA market, standards and regulations, there are lessons and insights to be gained that are also applicable to the SA market… (more)

The inspection of explosion protected (Ex) equipment, together with appropriate maintenance and repair, is critical for safety. This paper highlights the differences between electrical and Ex inspections and presents some solutions based on standards covering the subject and best practice from experience… (more)

A recurring problem for users of photoelectric sensors is a lack of space – parts to be detected are too small and there is barely room to mount sensors. The same question emerges again and again: “How should I come up with a solution for the application at hand?” … (more)

Pneumatic control may have a lower initial cost but its flexibility of motion in most cases is restricted and there are higher long-term energy costs and maintenance costs… (more)

On the premise that it is impossible to manage what cannot be measured, for large energy users – i.e. those other than residential – the active energy efficiency process should start with an assessment of how and where energy is used, and how much of it is consumed… (more)

A range of vibration monitoring equipment has been instrumental in ensuring that plastics manufacturer Safripol is able to keep up with high-output demands without causing any unnecessary damage to its machinery… (more)

Streetlights that use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) cut electricity consumption by up to 80%. Not only are LEDs efficient; their light can also be directed optimally. A stroll after dark in the historic city center of Regensburg, Germany, raises a question. Do modern LED streetlights fit in harmoniously in the narrow medieval lanes of a World Heritage Site city?… (more)

Light is the connection between the physical world and the observer, as through light we see and understand space. But how can it change reality? It can’t, but it can change our perception of that reality… (more)

Super low-profile and incredibly powerful – these are the demands that touch screens place on infrared components. A new ChipLED is one of the smallest on the market. With its high performance, it is ideal for low-profile all-in-one computers and laptop displays. And the infrared emitter (IRED) is so small that it can be easily integrated in smartphones)… (more)

 On 1 April 2011 the electrical contracting industry was officially demarcated under the Construction, Education and Training Authority (CETA).  With little progress being made, the ECA invited Lance Ledingham, manager of the CETA for the East/South Cape region to address the concerns of members… (more)

Unfortunately it has been necessary to close the training centre in Durban. The final training course and a number of trade tests were conducted in the early part of July. It has only been operational for the past two and a half years, and during that time apprentices, elconops and private students have undergone training… (more)

When the ESETA was placed under administration, the industry thought that finally it would be reorganised and brought under proper control.  A number of problems experienced by the industry were raised with the new ESETA administration, but eight months down the line nothing has changed… (more)

Question: I am contemplating hiring a few Zimbabweans at my company.  Are there any requirements or restriction when employing foreign nationals? Answer: Firstly, it is important to understand that a foreign national is anyone who is not a citizen of South Africa… (more)

Every member knows by now that the category of employee called the “general worker” ceased to exist on 31 January 2011 and all existing general workers at that date were upgraded to “electrical assistants” with the relevant salary increases… (more)

In the 1969 amendments to the 1963 Edition of the Standard Regulations for the Wiring of Premises (the “Blue Book”) a new regulation 226 was added which read: “Automatic earth leakage protection is mandatory in certain instances in terms of these regulations… (more)

On 3 July 2011 Carte Blanche aired a segment on electrical contractors. Some members think that the show was”fixed”. You have our absolute assurance that this is incorrect. We were not informed in advance which electrical contractors had been called in to attend to the fault, which was deliberately created in the installation… (more)

The ECA(SA) has now been given permission by the chief inspector in the Department of Labour to produce and sell to its members its own pads of blank certificates of compliance/test reports to its members… (more)

Registration as a professional with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) requires an accredited qualification, as well as practical training and experience. But what is the difference between Pr Eng; Pr Tech Eng; Pr Cert Eng and Pr Techni Eng?… (more)

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