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Over the past century, mankind has beneficiated the Earth’s natural resources to improve their standard of living. In the process, many of the non-renewable resources, mainly fossil fuels, have become depleted. This has had the effect of increasing the cost of these increasingly scarce resources, incentivising people to look for alternatives, as well as investigating means to use the existing resources more productively… (more)

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Just 10% of the US EIA estimated 485 tcf shale resource could add R200-billion to GDP annually and create 700 000 sustainable jobs, as well as providing  SA with a solution to its electricity supply and pricing challenges. Development of gas could ensure South Africa’s energy security. The shale gas opportunity in the Karoo could significantly boost South Africa’s economy and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. This is according to an economic report released by Econometrix… (more)

I started off my career as a software engineer working on a project at Koeberg Nuclear Power Station for the first year. Later IST got involved with software and hardware development projects through securing the RTU and SCADA contracts with Eskom. This development work was performed in partnership with the then Westinghouse Systems UK. This involved me working on and off in the UK with Westinghouse from 1992 – 1994 on the so-called SMART SCADA systems for Eskom Distribution. With the introduction of standard products supplied by IST into the South African market, customer support and software debugging became a part of my life!… (more)

Sir: The concrete “supports” are not installed for that function. They were installed as an extreme measure to resist the continuous attempts of vandalism and theft of the pole transformer and LV cable to the customer. As the supply point in is a remote area and serves as a supply to a MTN site we had to try to secure it. We had three earlier incidents of theft of the transformer and LV cable supplying the MTN site… (more)

Sir: While I can sympathise with Jacob Marley’s expectation of finding Scrooge in the hot place, I gather that just in time he heeded the warnings of his lurid dreams and repented, so perhaps his address has changed? But my purpose here is not to defend a mythical character, but to call into question the lauding of that essentially parasitic activity known as rooftop PV. (“Occupy the rooftops!” Energize, March 2012, page 6)… (more)

Sir: A certain large South African SOC in the electricity sector has recently been much in the news. What particularly struck me was that the news invariably mentioned money, but not once, if memory serves, customers. After all, customers pay the bills, and that usually involves money. In my days, Sir, when Scrooge and I were slaving away to make a success of Scrooge and Marley, a successful business was built on sound principles. You made something your customers needed, you sold it to them at a good price (but not so dear that your competitors could undercut you) and you kept your customers happy by not keeping them in the dark (literally and figuratively)… (more)

The Cigré Steering Committee, consisting of leading industrialists from USA, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Japan, China, Russia, South Africa, Germany, France, Spain, and the UK, will meet in South Africa from 24 – 27 April 2012. During the meeting a South Africa day will be held with presentations from Eskom (on the electrical energy situation), ABB (on production of large transformers) and Pfisterer (on production of HV insulators). This is an opportunity to showcase our abilities to other countries. The day will include a technical visit to an electrification project… (more)

Schneider Electric South Africa has teamed up with the French Ministry of Education and the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) to launch a centre aimed at developing programmes to train technicians and higher technicians in the fields of energy, electricity and maintenance of automated systems. Named the French–South African Schneider Electric Education Centre (F’SASEC), the new facility is in line with the Department of Higher Education and Training’s vision of accelerating artisan training across the country and will focus on preparing young South Africans from disadvantaged backgrounds for the job market… (more)

The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) valued at R30-million over the next three years, to give young innovators access to SABS standards, certification, training services and testing facilities. The MOU forms part of support services that TIA envisaged under the Youth Technology Innovation Fund launched in January 2012… (more)

Aurecon is pleased to announce that after filing a formal notification with the Competition Commission of Aurecon and NetGroup’s intended merger, we have gained full approval to proceed with the merger. NetGroup, a market leader in transmission and distribution for utilities and industries in Southern Africa, will be merging its business operations with Aurecon as of 1 March 2012. Founded in 1987, NetGroup currently employs a multi-skilled work force of more than 260 people comprising engineers, business consultants, process analysts and information systems specialists… (more)

The paper reports on the assessment of the use of bagasse for cogeneration purposes at Hippo Valley Estates (HVE), a sugar manufacturing company in Zimbabwe. It was established that the power plant for the company could generate an annual surplus of US$2,8-million as revenue, and the payback period was found to be 3,3 years… (more)

With an aging power component population, today’s electrical utility industry faces a tough challenge as failures and consequent repair and revenue loss may inflict major costs. Transformers have become one of the most mission critical components in the electrical grid. The need for reliable diagnostic methods drives the world’s leading experts to evaluate new technologies that improve reliability and optimise the use of the power network… (more)

Power transformers of various size and configuration are used throughout the power system. These transformers play an important role in power delivery and the integrity of the power system network as a whole. Power transformers have operating limits beyond which transformer loss of life can occur. This paper examines the adverse conditions to which a power transformer might be subjected… (more)

By 2018, about 60% of the installed capacity of HVDC schemes worldwide will be in China (in only 20% of the number of schemes). By necessity, China has become the leader in HVDC, with a strong emphasis on developing its own country’s capabilities. The result is that Chinese HVDC firms are now globally competitive on complete HVDC schemes, with ?800 kV and 6400 MW schemes being standard. Chinese firms are also at the forefront of the development of HVDC technology with the testing of 1100 kV valves as well as fault based maintenance methodology… (more)

The smart grid promises a more efficient way of supplying and consuming energy. In essence, the smart grid is a data communications network integrated with the power grid that enables power grid operators to collect and analyse data about power generation, transmission, distribution, and consumption – all in near real time. Smart grid communication technology provides predictive information and recommendations to utilities, their suppliers, and their customers on how best to manage power… (more)

The latest National Energy Barometer Survey Award in the hotel category went to Imperial Hotel, a 100-year old hotel that proved it is able to operate the most energy efficient of all the entrants despite its age. Runner-up in the hotel category was the Hluhluwe Hotel (managed by UAS). In the Shopping Centre Category, the N1 City Mall is the winner (managed by UAS) and the winner in the Head Office Category is CEF House… (more)

Lithium-ion batteries have emerged in the last one and half decades to capture over half of the sales value of the secondary consumer market, with applications such as laptop computers, cell phones and camcorders (known as the “Three-C” market). Production capacity has recently been estimated to be 75-million cells per month. These cells provide high energy density (~400 Wh/l) and specific energy (~160 Wh/kg), and long life, typically greater than 1000 cycles at 80% depth of discharge… (more)

The Wind Atlas for South Africa project is an initiative of the South African Government, Department of Minerals and Energy (now DoE), and the project is co-funded by the UNDP-GEF through the South African Wind Energy Programme (SAWEP), and the Royal Danish Embassy. South African National Energy Research Institute (SANERI) is the Executing Partner, coordinating and contracting contributions from the implementing partners: CSIR, UCT, SAWS, and DTU Wind Energy… (more)

Renewable energies, such as wind energy, allow electricity production without consuming fossil resources and without any direct carbon dioxide emissions.  Particularly the cost of wind generation has considerably decreased over the last decade and while fossil fuel prices are increasing it is anticipated that wind generation at high wind sites will represent the most economical method for generating electrical energy in the near future… (more)

A glance through Vector this month tells us that skills shortages in this country are fast becoming a serious threat to industry and economy alike. Industry players are exasperated, calling, as does ECA(SA) president Mark Mfikoe, the inability to develop skills “the biggest scandal in this country”… (more)

Eskom invites business owners to submit projects for approval under the Standard Product and Standard Offer programmes. Demand Market Participation (DMP) as a reserve option has been part of Eskom’s Demand Side initiatives since 2005. The instantaneous reserve, in particular, is a mechanism created by Eskom to ensure the stability of the utility’s transmission system and grid… (more)

A total of 27 students graduated from the Eskom Contractors Training Academy, having completed an eight-month Energy Sector and Training Authority (ESETA) registered programme. The course is funded by the Eskom Development Foundation in partnership with Edupark, a Section 21 company run by the University of Limpopo… (more)

You have dismissed and employee at work unfairly, and then made a genuine offer to rectify the mistake. Your employee, on the other hand, refuses the offer. Labour appeal court (LAC).Kemp then appealed to the Labour Court and the issues were confined to the following: whether the employee should have been awarded compensation at all. Whether the amount awarded by the Labour Court was excessive… (more)

How much total energy is needed to manufacture a traditional 60 W incandescent lamp and an 11 W compact fluorescent lamp respectively?”I have a sneaky suspicion that it may require a whole lot more energy to manufacture a new type CFL than it does to make a good, old-fashioned incandescent globe… (more)

The eighth IESSA Annual Congress and AGM will be held at the Cathedral Peak Hotel in the Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal, between 13 and 16 May 2012. The theme of the congress will be “Light is life”. A number of hotel rooms have been allocated to IESSA and delegates must book accommodation direct with the Cathedral Peak Hotel. We are considering using buses to transport delegates from Durban and Pretoria/Johannesburg to the Cathedral Peak Hotel, and the cost will be approximately R600 per person return… (more)

Our experts solve readers’ technical problems — Electrical contracting often presents problems which, when solved by experts and shared in a forum, can be turned into learning opportunities. Working in co-operation with the ECA(SA) and other experts, Vector now provides such a forum. Our expert for this issue is Cecil Lancaster… (more)

Philips South Africa has launched a new business aimed at providing retrofit lighting solutions including LED for public and private sector buildings and businesses. The company, Philips Lighting Solutions, offers a project solution including lighting surveys, advice, project management, installation, and maintenance… (more)

The PneuDrive Challenge 2012 Engineering Design Competition, sponsored by SEW Eurodrive and Festo, presents South African engineering students with an opportunity to design solutions that could improve the lives of disadvantaged communities. The challenge, an engineering student design competition now in its fifth year, will have as its theme “Engineering a better life for South African communities”… (more)

The higher regional court at Karlsruhe has confirmed the illegal use by Malaysian LED manufacturer Dominant of Osram technology with seven patents. The regional court at Mannheim had reached the same verdict regarding three of these patents on 25 July 2007… (more)

Studies have shown that if all of humanity aspired to first world living standards, we would need three planets like Earth to sustain us. Addressing a media conference, CESA president Naren Bhojaram said our ever-increasing aspiration towards first world lifestyles has resulted in the human race’s abuse and destruction of resources… (more)

This paper reviews some of the factors that should be considered when selecting energy efficient lamps to replace existing quartz halogen downlighter lamps. Users should be prepared to accept lower light levels and a colour shift resulting in a change in the room appearance. The degree of change can be minimised with the correct selection of replacement lamp… (more)

We have reached a tipping point in the development of high quality LEDs where this new technology can be used for general lighting in almost all applications. This bodes well for the environment as LEDs of reputable quality offer solutions to some of the pressing issues of the age such as energy constraints; resource scarcity; safety; climate change and productivity. LED technology, when combined with the latest solar and battery developments, can also provide practical light for the one third of humanity currently living without electricity… (more)

Power and automation technologies company ABB reports that advances in AC drive technology over the past 20 years have enabled it to produce a product which may very well substitute the contactor, soft starter, multispeed motor, tri-ac and regulating transformer. With an eye on the domestic appliance market, the company conducted customer surveys to determine the most desirable features when it comes to variable speed drives (VSDs)… (more)

The injudicious and automatic replacement of standard motors with IE2 and IE3 motors may well result in an actual increase in the overall system energy consumption. When considering optimising energy conservation and efficiency one should never look at the specific efficiency of a single item in a system only, but always at the efficiency of the system as a whole… (more)

Most mining operations in South Africa rely on compressed-air systems to facilitate production. Many opportunities exist to reduce the electrical energy consumption of these compressed-air systems. The electrical energy consumption of compressed air systems can be reduced by reducing the demand for compressed air… (more)

From storm damage to everyday plumbing and roof leaks, moisture damage in residential and commercial buildings can be very expensive. The key is identifying and locating moisture problems before secondary damages escalate. Within the last few years, infrared cameras (thermal imagers) have become powerful tools for locating moisture problems in buildings… (more)

Energy co-ordination of surge arresters is a topic frequently overlooked and probably the most common cause for failure of surge arresters. Many people believe that the more surge arresters installed, the better the level of protection. This is fair enough if viewed purely from a voltage protection perspective, but can lead to premature failure of surge arresters… (more)

Stray voltage, also referred to as ghost voltage, appears in electrical conductors such as cables, even though the conductor is disconnected from an electrical circuit. Electricians and technicians frequently encounter stray voltages in electrical systems when measuring AC voltage in circuits that have been disconnected. Measuring the circuit using a high impedance handheld digital multimeter can make it difficult to differentiate stray voltage from legitimate readings… (more)

On 31 March 2011, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) published the new Radio Frequency Spectrum Regulations in the Government Gazette. The ink had hardly dried on the document when ICASA received a flurry of complaints about mistakes and inaccuracies… (more)

Franck Cohen, president of SAP Europe, Middle East and Africa, recently visited South Africa as part of the company’s 40th anniversary. While most companies were still in the recovery stage when new dark clouds started gathering – mainly driven by the debt crisis in several euro zone countries – SAP celebrated its 40th anniversary with a 25% growth during 2011. In its annual results the euro zone’s financial woes are clearly reflected by a flat European market… (more)

Computer Society South Africa (CSSA) has embarked on a survey aimed at both individuals and corporates who are active in the ICT space in this country. You don’t have to be a member to participate. If you work in the ICT industry, if you are an employer of ICT skills or if you are studying to become an ICT practitioner, CSSA wants to know how you feel about the Society, about professionalism and about career development. Help CSSA to serve South Africa better and come out a winner!… (more)

The launch edition of the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering’s (JCSE) Source Code magazine has been released. This JCSE initiative aims to provide a comprehensive resource guide for the software development community in South Africa and contains lists of independent software vendors as well as information on all of the ICT-related programs at South African universities… (more)

Is intelligent building automation (IBA) just about being green, or is it a business imperative, given the climate of ever-increasing energy costs, and worse, a dwindling supply? It is a point of debate that is surely appearing on many boardroom meeting agendas. Some still argue that it is about being green, others will say it is about reducing cost, and yet another group believes that it is about saving the environment… (more)

The author looks at how a new generation of business software is helping to boost manufacturers’ speed and performance, and engage the workforces of tomorrow. Manufacturers have taken innovative measures to strip out costs, boost productivity and ensure they are in the best possible shape to ride the waves generated by the recession. Testament to their resilience is the fact that they continue to help drive economic recovery and demonstrate growth against turbulent economic conditions… (more)

With fuel prices at an all-time high and airfares skyrocketing, telepresence, video conferencing and teleconferencing should be taking off. Every vendor tells prospective clients how much their companies can save on travel costs and time and increase productivity, but as yet the market has not seen large scale adoption… (more)

A few years ago there were only a handful of data centres in South Africa, now they seem to be everywhere. The growth is obviously driven by demand, migration to the cloud and more companies outsourcing their IT services. In many respects data centres offer better business continuity as many of them have a large amount of redundancy and redundant connectivity built-in, which is often not affordable by small and medium sized companies. Security is another major consideration… (more)

The first phase of South Africa’s first Green data park is now in operation in Centurion, Gauteng. Fully developed, the park will support 6000 m² of data space. When the project commenced in June 2011, the predicted game-changing Bladeroom efficiency was greeted with general disbelief. In handover tests on site, the Bladeroom exceeded predictions – achieving an actual PUE of less than 1,2 across the full range of loads from 18% to full load… (more)

System planning is the Achilles’ heel of a data centre physical infrastructure project. Planning mistakes can magnify and propagate through later deployment phases, resulting in delays, cost overruns, wasted time, and ultimately a compromised system. Much of the trouble can be eliminated by viewing system planning as a data flow model, with an orderly sequence of tasks that progressively transform and refine information from initial concept to final design… (more)

Many South African-engineered and -manufactured products find their way overseas, yet we seldom read about it in our local media. One example is a tunnel FM radio system designed and manufactured by Broadcast Solutions Electronics in Cape Town. The company was created by the management buyout from Plessey in 2000… (more)

Midsize companies need innovative, secure and cost-effective ways to cut costs without disrupting current business operations. The right cloud solution offers midsize companies an advantage. All the while aiming to improve efficiency and employee productivity, enter new markets and find new opportunities, manage risk, improve business agility and retain customers… (more)

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