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Access to reliable electricity and its affordability are key indicators of an improved standard of living, but the economics of extending grid electricity to low density rural areas of South Africa restrict such undertakings… (more)


Most gas engines are Otto cycle spark ignition internal combustion reciprocating engines using natural gas as the primary fuel. Smaller models utilise stochiometric combustion while the larger engines are lean burn engines with pre-chamber ignition systems.  The engines are coupled with packaged generator sets, cogeneration and, even, trigeneration units to optimise energy utilisation in the fuel being burned… (more)

The Alstom Chair in Clean Energy Systems Technology (ACCEST) was inaugurated on 1 December 2011at the University of the Witwatersrand, through a partnership, which will see Alstom investing over R17- million in various projects at the University between 2009 and 2016. The Chair will address the technology of electricity generation and transmission of South Africa, recognising the need for growth and environmental sustainability… (more)

Recent articles published in the AMEU e-Bulletin and other media sources have served to highlight the national power system constraints expected over the next few years, as well as a few of the recommended mitigation strategies to prevent or reduce the widespread disruption experienced during the 2008 electricity generation crisis. These constraints impact both winter load (higher demand) and summer load (the need to do essential maintenance on the generation fleet)… (more)

Parsons Brinckerhoff Africa (PB) in association with ACE Energy and PPA Energy was contracted by the Government of Rwanda (GOR) through the Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA) in Rwanda to formulate a National Electricity Grid Code (“Grid Code”).  Once promulgated, the custodians of the Grid Code will be the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) where their primary responsibility will be to enforce the provisions made in the Grid Code… (more)

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)

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)

By 2030, researchers expect to build a fusion reactor demonstration plant that produces more energy than it consumes. If successful, fusion power will provide a nearly inexhaustible and CO2-free source of energy. Related developments in materials research are driving improvements in many Siemens technologies. Nuclear fusion is pure solar energy. Deep within a star, the atomic nuclei of light elements fuse, generating vast amounts of energy in the process… (more)

by Mark Botha and Chris Yelland, EE Publishers

The debate around hydraulic fracturing in the Karoo is an issue of national and public interest. Shale gas extraction has the potential, some say, to change the face of the country’s power industry and improve the lives of millions of South Africans. Public opinion, however, is a powerful force well-known to have hampered the nuclear industry in the past… (more)

by Chris Yelland, managing director, EE Publishers
Within a few weeks, Judge Kgomo of the South Gauteng High Court will rule on whether Eskom must hand over certain documents requested by Media 24 in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act that would reveal details of secret pricing deals with BHP Billiton that have long been held to be confidential. However the matter may not end here, but could be heading for the Constitutional Court… (more)

by Chris Yelland, managing director, EE Publishers

At long last, the cabinet has approved and published the national Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity, IRP 2010. Now this just has to be passed by parliament and published in the Government Gazette. Let’s hope there will not be further delays, and that a measure of certainty will prevail so that the electricity sector can get down to work. But what is IRP 2010? Why is it important? And what exactly does it say?… (more)

by Chris Yelland, managing director, EE Publishers

Chris Yelland speaking on Radio 702 on Friday 7 January 2011 with Stephen Grootes, discussing Eskom and the state of the electricity power system in South Africa.

Click here to listen to the discussion (MP3 audio file)

by Mike Rycroft, editor of Energize

This article was first published in Critical Thinking Forum, a supplement to the Mail & Guardian,

Three announcements in the last few weeks have created new hope that the long-awaited renewable energy (RE) programme will get underway, namely: the request-for-information on renewable energy projects from the Department of Energy (DoE); the announcement by the minister of energy of the establishment of a solar park in the Upington area; and the release of the draft integrated resource plan for electricity (IRP2010) for public comment… (more)

When my partner starts talking in “engineer”, I become like one of those nodding dogs that people used to have in the back windows of their cars. My head nods, I give a toothy smile and my eyes glaze over. When ‘reserve margin’ was suggested as a topic for this column, I wondered what the white stripe on a rugby field keeping the reserves behind the playing field had to do with engineering?… (more)

by Chris Yelland, EE Publishers

There has been some criticism of the lack transparency and inadequate time allowed for effective stakeholder engagement in the 20-year Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity (IRP 2) currently under development by the Department of Energy (DoE) in South Africa (Energize, May 2010 issue, page 15).

Many stakeholders and interested parties may wish to be involved but may not be aware of the stakeholder engagement process currently in progress, of the DoE website at where information and documentation on the process may be obtained, and of the tight time-lines involved… (more)

by Chris Yelland, EE Publishers

After gazetting a flawed and widely criticised 3-year interim electricity integrated resource plan (IRP 1) on 31 December 2009, well after Eskom had submitted its initial (45% pa for 3 years) and revised (35% pa for 3 years) multi-year price applications to NERSA in the second half of 2009, the DoE is now franticly working on the long overdue real thing – a 20-year national integrated resource plan for electricity (IRP 2) as required in terms of the National Energy Act of 2008, the Electricity Regulation Act of 2006, and the Electrical Regulations on New Generation Capacity of 2009… (more)

by Chris Yelland, EE Publishers

It’s official – we’ve got the loan. And from the limited information available at this time it appears that it is unconditional, this despite the lack of support from significant shareholders of the World Bank. It has been reported that the USA, UK, Italy, Norway and Netherlands abstained from voting on the loan application.

The award will come as a great relief to the government, the ANC, Eskom and those concerned about security of supply in South Africa through the construction of the 4800 MW Medupi coal-fired power station, scheduled to start coming on stream in 2012. The loan will ensure that there should be no delays to Medupi as a result of funding issues… (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)

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)

Coal has been the mainstay of economic development in South Africa for more than two centuries. However, the future of coal has now come into question worldwide, and serious consideration must be given to both the weaknesses and future opportunities for this commodity… (more)

Informed sources within Eskom Generation have indicated to EE Publishers that significant further cost increases can be expected for both Medupi and Kusile power stations.

In the case of Medupi, provision has been made at a cost of “several hundred million rands” in the current R125-billion price tag to ensure that the plant is ready for the incorporation of flue-gas desulphurisation (FGD) plant. The FGD plant itsself will be installed under a seperate contract at the first general overhaul cycle of Medupi power station in about 2018.

Kusile, on the other hand, will have FGD plant installed from the beginning during the construction of the power station, and its cost is therefore included in the current overall R142-billion price tag. Further pushing up Kusile’s price will be a significant additional cost of interest during construction, as well as contract price escallation, resulting from construction delays and the moratorium on placing of contracts since December 2008 due to the absence of a funding plan for the Eskom new-build programme… (more)

by Chris Yelland, EE Publishers

On Thursday 29 October, well over a week ago, a fateful Eskom board meeting heralded an unprecedented management crisis within this key South African state-owned enterprise.

The company is still reeling from a generation capacity crisis, the power black-outs of 2008, a serious skills shortage, a funding crisis for its new-build programme, and applications to the Regulator that would increase the price of electricity five-fold over the five-year period from 2008 to 2012.

Of course it is no coincidence that the new crisis has occurred at this critical juncture. In fact, this latest management crisis is simply a manifestation of the convergence of pressures and tensions arising from these and manyother issues at this time… (more)

Apollo is the inverter end of the Cahora Bassa HVDC scheme. It is situated in RSA while the rectifier is at the Songo Station 1414 km to the North in Mozambique. The present rating of the HVDC link is 1920 MW at ±533 kV. In 2006 Eskom placed a contract with ABB for the replacement of eight six-pulse converters and two AC filters, while retaining the old transformers and the DC yard equipment including smoothing reactors. A basic requirement was that renewed equipment should not become obsolete as the Cahora Bassa HVDC link has the potential to be uprated to 3960 MW using the present full current rating of the line and extending the voltage to ± 600 kV DC… (more)

A solution to improve wind power reliability is interconnected wind power.  In other words, by linking multiple wind farms together it is possible to improve substantially the overall performance of the interconnected system (i.e. array) when compared to that of any individual wind farm. The idea is that, while wind speed could be calm at a given location, it will be noncalm somewhere else in the aggregate array… (more)

Over the last 10 years the electricity reserve margin in South Africa, has been steadily declining, due to increasing demand for power and limited new generation capacity being commissioned. In 2006, regional load shedding was required due to network inadequacies and insufficient regional generation resources. In early 2007, the first incident of national load shedding occurred due to the inability to supply demand with the operational generation capacity… (more)

Mike__The latest round of REFIT tariffs will close the curtain on the first chapter of the renewal energy pricing saga. Although the REFIT 2 tariffs have not been finalised, the published figures give a fairly good indication of where things are heading. The question is what next? Not a single PPA has yet been signed for any of the technologies mentioned, although there are numerous potential generators… (more)

An interview with Doug Kuni, managing director of the South African Independent Power Producers Association (SAIPPA)

by Chris Yelland, managing director of EE Publishers

In this interview, Chris Yelland, managing director of EE Publishers, questions Doug Kuni, formerly from Eskom Generation, now a private consultant and managing director of the newly formed South African Independent Power Producers Association (SAIPPA), on the issues surrounding Eskom and IPPs in South Africa.

Audio-cast: Listen to the full interview with Doug Kuni (MP3 file)

Read the full interview and get the answers to the questions:

  1. Mr. Kuni, to what extent do you believe that South Africa needs IPPs and industrial co-generation as part of the solution to South Africa’s generation capacity crisis, and what advantages do IPPs bring?
  2. There has been talk of getting IPPs into the generation mix in South Africa for over ten years, but we still see few signs of progress. What is really going on, and what is it that is holding South Africa back?
  3. Do you believe that Eskom can be an honest broker as a generation project specifier, evaluator, adjudicator, power purchaser and competitor of IPPs, or is the conflict of interest a big problem?
  4. To what extent do you believe Eskom is hostile to IPPs and tries to keep them out?
  5. Please can you respond to statements often made to justify Eskom’s new build programme, namely that IPPs had not come to the table because they could not compete with Eskom’s very efficient and superior generation operation, and that this was therefore some kind of market failure?
  6. Please can you respond to statements often made by Eskom that it generates electricity at about half the price offered by IPPs, and that the country should therefore be wary of the IPP option?
  7. Eskom has commissioned some 2000 MW of OCGT (open cycle gas turbine) generation in the Cape. Since the operating costs are very high, has this helped or hindered the situation in South Africa, and should this have been left to IPPs?
  8. With the extremely high cost of operating the OCGTs, and the cost of Eskom’s new build programme spiralling upwards, how do IPPs feel about Eskom’s claims that they (IPPs) come at a high cost compared to Eskom?
  9. Is the current Eskom generation build programme (i.e. the return-to-service of mothballed power stations, OCGTs in the Western Cape, the Medupi and Kusile coal-fired power stations , and the Ingula and Tubatse pumped storage schemes) South Africa’s best and least-cost option for generation capacity to meet the demand forecast over the next 20 years and more?
  10. Is there adequate understanding within government, the DoE, DTI, DPE, Treasury, Regulator and Eskom of the electricity supply industry and its dynamics?
  11. In an environment of severe government and Eskom funding constraints, to what extent can IPPs alleviate the burden being felt by Eskom, the Treasury and the country?
  12. What do you make of the government and Eskom’s funding of the development of the pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR), and should they be involved in this?
  13. Should Eskom involve itself in wind, concentrating solar, photo-voltaic solar, small hydro and other renewable energy projects, or should this be left to IPPs?

… (more)

It is an incontrovertible fact that ever since that marvellous invention of that genius Faraday and that somewhat strange man Tesla, and that loud Yankee from Menlo Park, electricity has been harnessed for the greater good of man – and dare I say it, womanhood. Economies rise and fall not so much by the rise and fall of empires any longer, but by the price of electricity; nowhere more so than in a country that thrives on mines and heavy industry, smelters and furnaces. It is therefore all the more disturbing – disappointing? – in any case, outrageous, the way the price of electricity in your beloved country has escalated of late… (more)

An interview with Brian Dames, COO of Eskom Generation, by EE Publishers MD Chris Yelland.

Audio-cast: Listen to the full interview with Brian Dames (MP3 file)

EE Publishers MD Chris Yelland questions Brian Dames, COO of Eskom Generation, on electricity generation policy in South Africa, with particular reference to Eskom’s generation capacity planning and mix in the years ahead.

Read the interview and get Brian Dames’views:

Audio-cast: Listen to the full interview with Brian Dames (MP3 file)

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