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The water in a geyser can be heated by means of an electrical resistance element, a solar collector or a heat pump. This article aims to compare these technologies. The major difference between the three by Carel Ballack, SESSA is that the element uses electricity; the solar collector uses the sun’s energy directly to transfer heat while the heat pump draws heat from ambient air and then moves this heat through a heat exchanger… (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)

I read with great interest the other day that the eminent American consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan had proclaimed that South Africa was sitting on a PV solar power goldmine. PV solar power in particular, Messrs F&S trumpeted, was clearly the winner in the revised edition of IRP2010, which foresees no less than 8400 MW of PV capacity by 2030, equivalent to 300 MW per year. Quite a comeback for a technology that was reported as the big loser in the previous version of the IRP. But one cannot help wondering if F&S, being from foreign shores, took all the realities of the modern South Africa into account in making these bold claims… (more)

The South African building industry would be doing more than just the environment a favour by convincing its clients to install solar water heating systems. Switching to solar in existing developments could save as much as 50% on the average household’s monthly electricity bill by reducing the amount of electricity used by a geyser by as much as 70%… (more)

Currently around 1,5-billion people worldwide live without access to electricity, and without a concerted effort, this number is not likely to drop. Grid extension is often costly and not feasible in isolated rural areas, or is unlikely to be accomplished within the medium term in many areas. In such situations, electricity mini-grids can power household use and local businesses… (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)

An alternative energy provider is implementing an expansive solar energy project for Villiera Wines in Stellenbosch. This is possibly largest roof-mounted solar project in South Africa to date… (more)

Choosing the right power device for an application can be a daunting task. For solar inverter applications, it is well known that insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) offer benefits compared to other types of power devices, like high-current-carrying capability,gate control using voltage instead of current and the ability to match the co-pack diode with the IGBT. A solar inverter is a power-electronic circuit that converts dc voltage from a solar array panel to AC voltage. However, getting the most out of such a topology requires careful analysis and the right choice of the high-side and low-side combination of an IGBT… (more)

A mast standing 56 m tall is playing a vital role in bridging the digital divide, by bringing much-needed communication through connectivity to a remote community on the banks of the Orange River in the Northern Cape.  Riemvasmaak, situated 120 km west of Upington, has joined the global village thanks to an off-grid base station erected by MTN South Africa… (more)

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)

July marked the nominal date for introduction of the first round of increased electricity tariffs for municipal customers and some would have already received the first accounts reflecting new charges. Will the cost of electricity and uncertainty around supply drive consumers to generate their own power?… (more)

Over many years of involvement in the PV industry it has become apparent that there is a great lack of understanding and a great deal of misinformation in the industry, not only amongst consumers but also amongst suppliers… (more)

Solar energy is witnessing a truly stunning growth. Today, about 4500 MW of photovoltaic capacity is being installed annually worldwide – a figure that was below 100 MW in 1996 – and this expansion is continuing exponentially. The rapid spread is driven by national incentives: mainly by so-called feed-in tariffs… (more) 

Electricity for the Embassy of Japan in Groenkloof, Pretoria will now be mainly supplied by 410 solar panels. It is estimated that 90 t of CO2 emissions will be saved annually by using these solar panels. The installation, which cost R8-million, consists of four hundred and ten 810 x 1580 mm solar photovoltaic panels, each with a nominal output of 205 W, was supplied by Sanyo South Africa, and is expected to supply about 80% of the embassy’s needs when operating… (more)

Carbon credits add a layer of complexity which is often underestimated, says Keith Jones of Avisen. “As more companies strive to ‘go green’ – either because they feel it is the right thing to do, or they are required to by law – there will be implications for their business processes which need serious consideration… (more)

When evaluating the different options available for the production of electricity in South Africa it would be irresponsible to do so without tempering one’s idealism by giving serious consideration to our national affordability. A crisis has developed in our nation’s electricity production and distribution industry. There are several obvious reasons for this which I surely need not elaborate on. Hopefully our national “2010 hysteria” will eventually wane and be replaced by more beneficial investment actions… (more)

The ISES Solar World Congress 2009 hosted by the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa, attended by participants from all over the world resolved that the global target of 100% renewable energies is both attainable and necessary by the middle of the current century.This is motivated on grounds of ecological, economic and social sustainability. The unacceptable backlog in energy supply in the third world countries can only be covered cost effectively and in time by the use of renewable energies. Especially the industrialised countries have to increase their efforts in transitioning to renewable energies… (more)

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