You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2012.

South Africa has one of the worlds most advanced environmental legal frameworks entrenched with the environmental right to “ecologically sustainable development”. Numerous tools, including environmental impact assessment (EIA), are made available within the legal framework as listed in the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA)… (more)

Eskom has contracted Ellies Renewables, a division of JSE-listed Ellies, to install low flow showerheads and geyser timers to residential households who apply and are within the Ellies installation areas. These showerheads and timers will be provided and installed at no cost to the households… (more)

Energy management at the enterprise level is not only the responsibility of plant managers and engineers; it has now become the responsibility of corporate management as well. All departments within a company consume energy and add cost to a product or service, so everyone must be involved in developing and maintaining an energy management strategy that can be implemented to benefit the entire organisation’s bottom line and to accurately allocate costs where they were generated… (more)

In the UK, currently over 20 000 t of batteries are thrown away each year, the majority ending up in landfill. Whilst nickel cadmium, lead-acid and lithium batteries contain substances, hazardous to the environment, the zinc and manganese batteries that make up the majority of the battery waste do not contain substances that are particularly harmful if properly treated… (more)

Distribution grids need data and systems to drive safe and reliable operations. As SCADA, distribution automation, and outage management systems prove, dramatic improvement in grid efficiency and reliability can be achieved through increased real-time analytics driven by larger data volumes… (more)

Modern distance relays use various filtering algorithms to extract the fundamental frequency component of power system voltage and current waveforms. The relays then use the filtered voltages and currents in such numerous algorithms as distance, overcurrent, under/overvoltage, and frequency. Use of filtered voltages and currents generally provides a protective relay immunity to power system harmonics such as those resulting from transformer energisation… (more)

Sampled values (SV) are used for the transmission of digitised instantaneous values of quantities of the power system, mainly the primary currents and voltages. Thus, SVs can replace the classical secondary quantities. SVs are published on the substation network and are subscribed by any device that can make use of them… (more)

A world with direct current grids instead of alternating current grids. Is that possible? Sustainable generation of electrical energy is always linked with DC voltage. Solar cell systems produces a DC voltage, wind turbines always convert the AC voltage with a variable frequency in a DC voltage to convert it into an AC voltage with a constant frequency… (more)

After an invitation to tender on the 12th November 2010 for the Replacement of the Control and Instrumentation System on Units 1 to 6 at Duvha Power Station, the Siemens EFIE business unit successfully concluded the negotiations and was awarded the contract. Duvha power station is a coal fired power station built between 1978 and 1984, near eMalahleni (Witbank) in Mpumalanga. It has six units each with a sent-out capacity of 575 MW, so as a base load station it represents 3450 MW on the national grid… (more)

Historically, the cost of electricity in South Africa was low, resulting in a disregard for energy efficiency in almost all buildings and industrial processes. Aside from the environmental aspects, increasing electricity costs mean it makes financial sense to review almost everything we do to make sure we use the absolute minimum electricity. Combined heat and power (CHP) provides exciting opportunities for industrial plants and buildings with access to a gas supply… (more)

The SANAE IV (South African National Antarctic Expedition) research base in Antarctica was originally constructed in 1997, when an SSI group company provided the mechanical services. The Base is now due for refurbishment. SSI Engineers and Environmental Consultants won the tender issued by the Department of Public Works, on behalf of the Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism who administer the facility… (more)

WINDaba 2012, the 2nd Annual event hosted by SAWEA takes place from 22 – 24 October 2012 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Wind Energy in South Africa has been given yet another major boost with the launch on 13 March 2012 of the first verified Wind Atlas. This is great news for energy companies wanting to build a wind energy power station to use this information free-of-charge to establish where the wind speeds are best suited to generate power and will save developers of wind farms a full year of measurement and data gathering… (more)

Energy efficient lighting is becoming increasingly important as an immediate solution to rising electricity consumption, with the increasing compatibility of Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) with existing lighting infrastructure spurring sales. Lighting appliances consume approximately 19% of total generated electricity… (more)

While activity appears slow or subdued, market players are preparing for some significant changes in the technological and contractual landscape of high voltage transformers in South Africa. The high voltage transformer market is soon to see the return of ABB as a key player in 2013,  while the major current tender holders include Powertech, Siemens, Contipower, and Zest WEG. The dominance of existing suppliers is likely to be challenged at the forthcoming tender adjudication in 2015… (more)

Sir: I must admit to not having been particularly conscious about the amount of energy in the air, and was wondering whether your erudite and well-read subscribers had given it much thought. I am not referring to hot air, of course, of which we are all conscious when political tensions rise, but a few age-old phenomena which seem to have escaped the notice of even the most ardent students of sustainable energy. If the latest reports from the scientific community are anything to go by, why, we should perhaps aspire to soar far above the rooftops I wrote to you about recently… (more)

Sir: In the USA, as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, under Sec. 1251, all public electric utilities are now required to make available upon request net metering to their customers: SA is clearly still way behind the USA in this regard. It is difficult to understand why this is so – Dr. Bernhard Scheffler… (more)

Amendments to Electricity Regulation Act 4 of 2006: The foremost question the Free Market Foundation (FMF) asks in addressing any policy question, including the contents of the above mentioned Bill is, will this policy be to the  long term benefit of consumers and especially those who are the poorest and most vulnerable? Consumer satisfaction is generally achieved by an absence of barriers to entry into the provision of goods and services, allowing consumers a choice between the offerings of freely competing providers… (more)

2011 saw a growth in demand for the rental power industry due to the expansion of projects in sectors like construction, oil and gas, manufacturing, mining and utilities. Many private power companies that were badly hit during the recession are still struggling to fund their permanent power plants, thus increasing the demand for rental solutions to fill in the gaps. Our response to the demand has been to follow a strategic growth plan, which saw Aggreko own or acquire 16 new locations in 2011… (more)

The RFI issued in December 2011 by the Department of Energy for non-renewable IPPs achieved an amazing response totaling some 61 000 MW, 50% more than our total generating capacity. Sub-Saharan Africa is said to be an energy poor region, but this response shows that the potential to generate adequate electricity for the region’s needs exists… (more)

The heat pump is set to have an impact on residential energy use. This article explains why and takes a look at the technology behind it. South Africa’s new building regulations demand that sustainable energy systems be incorporated into all new residential buildings. In terms of SANS 10400, “at least 50% by volume of the annual average hot water heating requirement shall be provided by means other than electrical resistance heating including, but not limited to, solar heating, heat pumps, heat recovery from other systems or processes and renewable combustible fuel”… (more)

Many factors are driving designers to improve power supply efficiency – from going green to simple rand and cent. Simply put, power supply efficiency is measured by comparing the AC power going into the power supply to the DC power coming out of the supply. For example, imagine a power supply that uses 100 W of AC power to provide 90 W of DC output power. The supply’s efficiency would be calculated by dividing 90 W by 100 W, which equals 90% efficiency. When comparing a 75% to a 90% efficient power supply, the savings in electricity usage and wasted energy in the form of heat is quite significant… (more)

The importance of computer simulation as a tool is growing in all areas of engineering. In industrial control, simulation is an Information from ABB effective way to minimise effort for test preparation, provide imitations of comprehensive systems under test, and to enable systems to be tested dynamically on the shop floor. This allows a reduction in both changes to device applications during commissioning and, ultimately, plant downtime… (more)

Globally, water has become a strategic resource. The challenges surrounding water stewardship and management do, however, vary from one country to another. This tricky environment is further compounded by increasing pressure to reduce operating expenses, curb energy consumption, provide a reliable drinking water supply, bolster equipment safety, align processes with shifting regulations and ensure long-term effectiveness over the lifetime of equipment… (more)

Water usage at different deep-level mines varies greatly, between 1,25 kl and 4,15 kl per ton of rock mined, which means that some mines may be using water inefficiently. We identified three techniques to reduce water wastage and the subsequent water consumption of deep-level mines. These include leak management, stope isolation control and supply water pressure control. The outcome of the evaluation at mine 1 led to the implementation of all three water reduction techniques… (more)

The effect of source stabilisation on the energy consumption and harmonic distortion of a single-phase induction motor-pump configuration for a swimming pool in South Africa. In this project, a single-phase induction motor pump was used to circulate water in a swimming pool. The pump is supplied with a single-phase voltage source with external noise, causing the efficiency of the induction motor pump to be lower than required… (more)

Demand side management (DSM) initially focused on reducing the Eskom evening peak, but the electricity demand profile, although reduced during peak periods, has broadened in recent years. The utility also has a problem with base load supply between the morning and evening peaks. Load shifting is therefore still necessary, but Eskom now requires the load to be shifted to night time periods when electricity demand is lower… (more)

In a June 2007 article in Vector, Giantlight MD Otto Horlacher described how, in a first-of-its-kind venture in 2006, his company had replaced a 20-year-old incandescent-based lighting system at Sun City’s Pilanesberg convention centre with 4998 LEDs. Today, six years or some 65 000 hours of non-stop functioning later, not a single failure has occurred and the installation is functioning perfectly… (more)

How three-dimentional electronic vision can be used for rotation of a solar panel in the use of incandescent, CFL or LED lighting.The light intensity from solar powered CFL and LED lighting, as well as how the solar panel, battery setup and grid supply are used in a hybrid electrical setup for day and night time lighting are measured… (more)

Eskom has awarded electrical equipment and industrial instrumentation supplier Magnet and energy efficiency company Energywise to distribute and install energy saving showerheads at no cost to organisations with multiple shower facilities. The programme, aimed at organisations around the country sectors including mining, industry, government, education and corporate and commercial sectors, is expected to save 330 GWh over three years… (more)

Energy management company Schneider Electric and lighting components manufacturer Tridonic have announced a new corporate partnership. The partnership is said to represent collaboration on projects and will see the companies work together to promote energy efficient lighting control solutions… (more)

As South Africa is a fast growing economy where the demand for energy often exceeds supply, the building codes and regulations, which are administered by the NRCS and regulated by local government in terms of the National Building Regulations and the Building Standards Act, have been amended to embrace sustainability, commencing with energy efficiency. SABS was approached to draft national standards that could assist government interventions in reducing the demand for energy. SANS 204:2011, Energy efficiency in buildings was developed as a best practice document… (more)

As employees gain confidence in the light of the protection they get from the various labour laws and from the CCMA, they tend to become less subservient to the point where they refuse to obey instructions. To the employer, such insubordination is a nightmare. This is especially true where the employer is taken by surprise and is ill-equipped to deal with insubordinate employees. Because true insubordination goes to the heart of the employment contract, it is vital that both employer and employee fully understand what is expected… (more)

The following case demonstrates how a contractor, in exercising a builder’s lien, may lose possession to a third party who acquires possession in good faith (the bona fide possessor), thereby foregoing the right to retain the lien. The court applied established law. A lien is a form of security granted over an item of property to secure the payment of a debt or performance of an obligation as security for outstanding payment… (more)

The Illumination Engineering Society of South Africa (IESSA) is presenting a lighting school for those who would like to obtain a better understanding of basic design and measurement in illumination engineering. This IESSA Lighting School carries 4,5 CPD credits and is aimed at professional engineers; students; maintenance managers and staff; designers of all lighting installations and people who require competency in the design and measurement of basic lighting installations. The school will cover interior as well as exterior lighting, including street lighting, design and post-installation illumination measurements… (more)

The threat of power shortages and the abrupt termination of power to certain areas show that to maintain the state electricity monopoly in its current form is not in the best interests of electricity users. The generation, transmission, and a large percentage of the distribution of electricity in SA are currently carried out by Eskom, a vertically integrated public enterprise. Local authorities carry out the balance of the operation of distributing electricity. A method has to be found swiftly to terminate these threats of blackouts… (more)

The ongoing saga of the statutory registration of electrical contractors took another turn with the announcement by the Electrical Contracting Board (ECB) that its function of registering contractors had been extended until 31 August 2012 or to a later date determined by the chief inspector. This announcement contradicts the announcement by the Department of Labour (DoL) in March this year that it would assume responsibility directly for contractor registration as of 1 June 2012. It is the latest in a series of contradicting announcements by the DoL and the ECB regarding contractor registration, sowing considerable confusion in the industry… (more)

Over the past 18 years service providers in South Africa have been hard pressed installing infrastructure to supply effective telecommunication, cell phone communication, electricity, water and rail transport services while others take it upon themselves to destroy these structures for their own financial gain. It is now time for everyone in South Africa to take cognisance of the fact that we should all play a role in the combating of non-ferrous theft. We should realise what impact our action, or lack of action, has on the efforts to minimise this devastating crime wave… (more)

-Lack of infrastructure, skills causes Africa to lag in ICT readiness
-Angola’s Movicel launches fourth-generation network
-UBA grants Benin US$50-million for telecoms, power projects
-Kenya Telkom’s LION2 submarine cable goes live
-Liberia prepares for faster, more affordable internet
-Government cronies lobby for NITEL assets
-Local government in Rwanda set to step up ICT use
-China’s Huawei seeking to build landline system in South Sudan
-Tanzania signs US$6,7-million internet capacity deal with Rwanda
-Uganda’s “not closing down” UTL … (more)

In February 2012, at the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) a new world-wide frequency band for amateur radio was born: 472 – 479 kHz, destined to be known as the 630 kHz band… (more)


  • Not a phone, not a tablet but a hybrid of both
  • A complete system dedicated to in-car calls and music
  • You can be hands-free in the office too
  • Ergosensor monitors posture… (more)


Many factors are driving designers to improve power supply efficiency – from going green to simple rand and cent. Simply put, power supply efficiency is measured by comparing the AC power going into the power supply to the DC power coming out of the supply. For example, imagine a power supply that uses 100 W of AC power to provide 90 W of DC output power. The supply’s efficiency would be calculated by dividing 90 W by 100 W, which equals 90% efficiency. When comparing a 75% to a 90% efficient power supply, the savings in electricity usage and wasted energy in the form of heat is quite significant… (more)

Microwave printed-circuit board (PCB) prototypes can be quickly and cost-effectively produced in-house by means of any number of commercial mechanical milling machines or chemical etching. A faster and more accurate approach, however, is to perform the etching and machining by laser. One of the new developments which combines laser and electronics to mill and drill both laminated ceramic materials and soft substrate materials such as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) circuit-boards is the LPKF ProtoLaser U3. It is the only laser system worldwide that can structure, drill and cut laminated substrates. The system generates circuits directly from computer-aided-design (CAD) file formats, including Gerber, HPGL, and DXF files… (more)

Keller‘s OEM transmitters are systems that can be described as “embedded” in the best sense of the word – and in two different ways. First, the sensor and the downstream electronics are embedded in the same housing and second, the transmitter capsules themselves are ideally suited for embedding in application-specific systems. Depending on requirements, the output signal is standardised and temperature-compensated (ratiometric or digital). Thanks to the chip-in-oil (CiO) technology developed at Keller, the trend toward sensor miniaturisation is now a reality. This development can offer impressive advantages: an extremely compact structural design, high resistance to electrical noise fields and high vibration resistance thanks to low mass and short conduction paths… (more)

There are a number of test equipment choices in the data acquisition market, ranging from PC plug-in cards to standalone data acquisition units. To select the optimal equipment for your application, it is important for you to evaluate your measurement performance needs, including resolution, accuracy, functionality and throughput speeds. With so many choices available today, you will want to choose a flexible solution that can grow in tandem with your application, so you can protect your investment in the future… (more)

The concept of mining in space in not new, but the topic has been getting more attention in recent years. Many authors agree that mining space resources and the settlement of space would require extensive use of robotics. This paper explores the notion that future South African mining robotics could make the country a key player in the space mining industry. South Africa has fairly unique ultra-deep narrow tabular gold deposits, which lends itself to mechanisation/automation for a number of reasons. The challenges to overcome before successfully implementing robotics in these deposits are similar to some of the robotics challenges in mining space resources… (more)

Security is becoming increasingly important for the modern SCADA and industrial control system (ICS). Without security, the reliability and safety of the entire industrial process can be at risk. Unfortunately, good security doesn’t just happen. It needs to be designed into the system, using proven security strategies and processes. One of the foundation strategies is defence in depth – the idea that effective security is created by layering multiple security solutions, so that if one is bypassed, another will provide the defence… (more)

This article examines the quality problems that are typical on voice over IP (VoIP) calls, the methods of detecting and countering them, and a solution to resolve VoIP quality issues. Quality is a fundamental preoccupation of VoIP architects. The primary challenge is ensuring voice traffic is not delayed or otherwise compromised due to interference from non-voice traffic on the network… (more)

Successful product-oriented companies choose a vector of differentiation to deliver to their customers: the best in class, fastest time to market and lowest cost. In the global arena, companies are encountering nimble competitors able to compete on multiple fronts simultaneously. To get ahead of these disruptive forces, engineers must shed ideological thinking and focus on pragmatic outcomes, using whatever tools necessary to ensure the fastest, most accurate results… (more)

Due to potential interference, the TV band usually has unused spectrum inbetween any two stations which seems a waste of valuable spectrum that could be utilised to provide broadband connectivity, particularly in rural areas. In July 2011 the IEEE accepted the IEEE 802.22 standard which is aimed at using cognitive radio (CR) techniques to allow sharing of geographically unused spectrum allocated to the television broadcasting services on a non-interference basis… (more)

While in some quarters fibre is being touted as the be all and end all, if there are any myths and misconceptions about satellites, then top of the list would be “satellites are a dying breed” and “satellites are expensive.” I agree that sub-marine and terrestrial fibre has brought broadband to the masses in the metropolitan areas but those on the “platteland” are sadly passed by. For them there must be other solutions – satellites being one. If satellites are a dying breed, where would pharmacies and chain stores in rural areas be? Many rural pharmacies rely on VSat networks to check medical aid benefits when dispensing medicine, chain stores need access to customer accounts and ATM facilities and banks in rural areas rely on VSats… (more)

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