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It’s time for South Africa to celebrate a major win. With the announcement of the successful bidders in bid window 3 of the REIPPP behind us, we should reflect on what the renewable energy industry has achieved over the last two to three years through the REIPPP process. With close to R150-billion worth of projects either under construction or soon to be when the projects of round three reach financial close, there is no doubt that we have an industry that’s delivering significant benefits to South Africa and its people… (more)

Telecommunications is an integral part of any business; this is especially true for companies involved in the mining, railway and telecom carrier industries when operating in remote areas… (more)

“Is Chernobyl dead? Essays on energy – renewable and nuclear” by CM Meyer is a fascinating new book, breathtaking in its scope and gripping in its coverage. The 302-page book has 51 easy-to-read chapters (essays), each one essentially self-contained and extensively referenced, woven together to form the whole. There are also over 100 figures and pictures, many of them rare and retrieved from international archives, with significant historical interest… (more)

Sir: It is common cause that not long ago solar energy was riding high. A new dawn had broken and the sun stood high in the blue skies everywhere from Africa to Arizona. The prospect of a bright, sustainable and clean energy future seemed at hand. Rooftops were being occupied from Germany to Germiston. Before one knew it, people were talking and tweeting renewable, REFIT and REIPPP and a host of other acronyms as if they were second nature… (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

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

In recent months and at various venues Eskom has been lobbying and punting the view that a new dispensation and enabling environment is required for the utility to secure the cheap and abundant supplies of coal needed for its current and future fleet of coal-fired power stations. When pressed for details, Eskom officials become a little coy. But stripping aside the euphemisms, what Eskom is saying is that, in the light of higher global demand and world market prices for even the low-grade coal used in Eskom power stations, the utility is having difficulty matching these prices and contracting on a voluntary basis with the coal miners to secure its medium and long-term coal supplies… (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)

by Mike Rycroft, editor of Energize

This article was first published in Critical Thinking Forum, a supplement to the Mail & Guardian, www.mg.co.za.

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)

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)

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)

There is a practical reason why many countries are going to find it increasingly difficult to expand their use of wind power. There is a law of diminishing returns involved. Basically, as wind power capacity in national grid increases (as more and more powerful wind farms are connected to a national grid), so do the uncertainties associated with wind, and the percentage of guaranteed power wind can actually replace from traditional generation actually decreases. That is, if wind power is to be pumped into a national grid directly from wind turbines… (more)

Sir
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)

In the excitement surrounding the announcement of REFIT tariffs, the introduction of a “non-renewable energy” tax from July 2009 has been overlooked. This will result in collection of an enormous amount of money, but little thought has been given to how and where this will be used… (more)

The final determination of the renewable energy feed-in tariffs (REFIT) was announced on Tuesday 31 March 2009 at the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) offices in Pretoria. NERSA electricity regulator, Thembani Bukula, delivered this long awaited ruling, which was originally scheduled for 9 March 2009, but was postponed to allow due consideration of the numerous submissions received in response to the consultation document issued by NERSA in December 2008 and the subsequent public hearings in February 2009… (more)

Audiocast: Ruling by NERSA electricity regulator Thembani Bukula (MP3 file)
Audiocast: Interview with Thembani Bukula by the editor of Energize (MP3 file)

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