Sustainable Power Solutions has recently been working on two off-grid solar PV projects for Serena Hotels, both projects are milestones for Kenya’s hospitality industry.
Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge, which is featured in the video below, is noted as “Kenya’s first fully solar powered lodge!” In addition to setting a sustainable record for the Kenyan tourism industry, the solar power plant assisted Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge to win a Global Best Practice Awards earlier this year!
Renewable and self-sustaining mini- and off-grid solutions serve as alternatives to traditional grid connections to achieve energy-access goals for remote communities.
The landscape and population distribution of the African continent underscores why major power plants are unable to reach and serve all areas. As many of these regions are located so far from other urban centres, extending a country’s main electrical grid remains unaffordable. This leads us to the interim solution of investigating energy access and planning in an integrated manner, which includes incorporating smaller “mini-grids” that operate independently from the main grid and off-grid systems in isolated regions of the continent. Implementation of these solutions could also prove viable in regions where it remains unfeasible to spread the national grid, owing to issues such as topography or low population density.
Africa is rich in renewable energy sources which remain the most economical approach for powering mini-grids. The International Energy Agency has forecasted (in Africa Energy Outlook 2014) that 70 percent of new rural electricity supply in Africa will be provided by independent systems and mini-grids by 2040.
The DA-run City of Cape Town has threatened to disconnect solar panels, and will slap residents with a R6,425.90 fine if they fail to register their rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) installations.
This applies to both grid-tied and off-grid solar PV systems but does not apply to solar water heaters.
Mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services, and energy, Xanthea Limberg said unauthorised PV systems can interfere with the quality of electricity supply, electricity demand management and future network planning.
She said residents have a “grace period” until February 28, 2019, to register their solar PV connections.
Also read: Under new draft rules every solar panel on every house – and backup generators too – will have to be registered with the government
“The City embraces the uptake of alternative energy as this contributes to creating a cleaner and greener city,” Limberg said in a statement.
“We are, however, required to ensure that electricity supply systems comply with relevant standards and do not pose a safety risk.”
She explained that the fine will be used to pay for the removal of unauthorised solar connections.
The City of Cape Town, Limberg said, is legally required to ensure that the electricity distributed to all its customers complies with set quality standards.
“We would like to thank our customers for their cooperation during the registration process.”
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) aims to partner with a metropolitan council and a district municipality to compile pilot municipal energy master plans for electricity (MEMPs), which will provide the two councils with insight into the best electricity supply blends for their respective grids.
Key drivers have been the fall in the cost of small-scale embedded generation, such as rooftop solar and battery storage, and the step change in the cost of supply from Eskom, whose tariffs have risen by more than 400% since 2006.
Councils report that they are receiving ongoing approaches from potential independent power producers (IPPs), as well as customers seeking to install generation solutions for their own use. In addition, city authorities are well placed to pursue waste-to-energy and energy efficiency projects.
The City of Cape Town is working its plans to establish an appropriate business model to stimulate the uptake of solar photovoltaic systems. This announcements follows the need for aggressive renewable energy targets.
The number of increasing customers installing rooftop solar photovoltaic infrastructure is evident and the costs are perceived to be prohibitive by most residents. The City has announced that a letter of collaboration has been signed with the United States Agency for International Development and the Southern Africa Energy Program to investigate appropriate mechanisms to unlock access to the benefits of this technology for more of Cape Town’s residents.
With the investment in and the rolling out of renewables is the obvious way forward for a progressive city, Cape Town intends to grow its status as the green economy hub of Africa. However, this comes with certain barriers.
The City recognises that the facilitation of the move to sustainable models are necessary for creating an environment which allows for the private sector to move safely and legally towards investment into and adoption of these options. Solar projects will become more economically viable only if adoption rates are increase, solid public-private partnerships are formed and clear regulatory frameworks are put into place.
There are various models to institute this, for instance:
Nelson Mandela Bay municipality’s model prescribes that investors can pay for solar panels to be installed at private homes and then be reimbursed according to how much energy is transmitted back onto the network
the City could invest in the capital cost of the infrastructure and then have residents pay this back either via their electricity invoice or property rates.
through community or co-operative funding mechanisms.
The study’s aim is to identify the most appropriate mechanisms for Cape Town’s customers, based on legal and technical factors which would be most attractive to residents.
The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services; and Energy, Councillor Xanthea Limberg comments:
‘The City is determined to build a more secure, cleaner and affordable energy future and we know that the technological solutions already exist to enable us to do this. This collaboration will bring us that much closer towards meeting our renewable energy targets by identifying solutions to the barriers that make it difficult for residents to access to clean and affordable electricity”.
“We have a number of initiatives under way to release Cape Town from its heavy reliance on Eskom. I am confident that the outcomes of this work will be hugely valuable in our committed drive to building a low carbon, resilient and resource-efficient city.”
“This move also helps to position the Cape Town as a centre for green business and the growth of the renewable sector helps to preserve our environment. Apart from this though, research and development, design, manufacture and the installation and maintenance of small-scale embedded generation systems and services all provide economic opportunities.”
Residents will be required to register and to obtain authorisation for their rooftop PV systems in accordance with the City’s Electricity Supply By-Law.
Connecting a small-scale embedded generation system to the grid can pose a safety risk. It is important to ensure that all generating equipment is approved and install correctly. Residents have until the 28th of February 2019 to register their systems after which they will be liable for a service fee and possible electrical disconnection if fount to have installed this system without the relevant approvals in place with the exception of solar water heaters.
If businesses and households generate their own solar power it will have a negative effect on municipal revenue generation, but municipalities will need to find a role to play in this new development, says Dr Zweli Mkhize, minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs.
Mkhize was addressing the Association of Municipal Electricity Utilities’ technical convention in Pretoria on Monday.
“Development is impossible without energy. Our industries, government departments, households, streets, hospitals and schools need energy to keep running. You are engaged in the important business of supplying this important resource,” Mkhize told the delegates.
The future of the generation, transmission and distribution of energy was changing rapidly and it was vital that municipalities kept on track, he said.
The government wanted to provide all citizens with access to basic services. This meant that all forms of energy generation should be employed, from traditional coal-fired generation plants through to hydro plants, solar farms, wind turbines and small embedded generation.
Nearly 190 municipalities were licensed through the National Electricity Regulator of South Africa to distribute electricity to consumers.
“Already this space occupied by local municipalities is becoming more complex as other forms of electricity generation are becoming effective. Renewable energy is changing the face of the energy game and municipalities are responding, simply to provide affordable services to citizens,” Mkhize said.
But renewable energy also came with threats and opportunities. Mkhize used the example of solar farms being erected within the borders of a municipality and being fed into the municipal network as part of the generation and transmission combination. This challenge will have to be managed well so that the total effect on the national grid is not compromised.
“Businesses and households are installing solar arrays on their rooftops. This will no doubt have a negative impact on municipal revenue generation,” Mkhize said.
“Municipalities will need to find a role to play in this new development and ensure that the installations comply to safety standards and the quality of the generated energy should be equal to that received from Eskom. They would also need to ensure that when this energy is fed back into the grid, the correct metering and accounting is in place to accommodate this embedded energy.”
Mkhize said programmes in the renewable energy sector would stimulate local economic development.
The role of digitalisation within the African energy sector is growing rapidly and will result in demand for innovation, adaptation to new market technologies as well as the development of a new skill set within companies. Adoption of digitalisation and energy transition in Africa has been slow, but can leapfrog development across sectors. Energy is a key driver of economic growth and development, and the provision of access to modern energy contributes tremendously to improved health care, better education and economic opportunities in urban and rural areas in Africa.
Energy systems are experiencing rapid change at local, national and global levels driven by a blend of innovation; changes in policy and consumer demands; and the reducing costs of new technology. Digital management of distributed energy sources has already begun and brings opportunities and a market, especially for the Private sector. An energy revolution through decentralisation is occurring through off-grid and micro-grid systems. Renewables, distributed energy and smart grids demand new capabilities, new business models and regulatory frameworks.
At the Africa Energy Indaba 2019, a panel of industry experts will discuss this issue and engage with the audience to explore the implementation of digitisation and the benefits attached to the adaption of this new-wave of industry technology in the conference.
• Job creation and new opportunities as a result of the 4th Industrial Revolution: Advancements,
such as energy storage, off-grid technologies, smart grids, renewables, clean coal and nuclear
allow for new opportunities of investment and development.
• Understanding the driving global trends such as population growth, climate change and evolving
technology towards innovation and a sustainable Energy future
• Innovative financing options, because potential energy suppliers find it challenging to access
funds and increased support from developmental funders / financiers is required.
• Risks and challenges of digitalisation: Africa risks being marginalised if it is not prepared for the
Fourth industrial revolution and many NEW challenges arise e.g. data ownership, server
• The importance of education, training and skills development in order to retain jobs as the
energy transition occurs.
Learn more about Africa Energy Indaba
Anglo American’s venture capital spin-off seeks investors to join in the hunt for fuel cell energy start-ups
AP Ventures, a venture capital fund manager recently spun off from the world’s largest platinum miner Anglo American, is on the hunt for global investors including Chinese to buy into its new US$100 million fund seeking early exposure to the emerging fuel cell electric vehicles industry.
The London-based AP, which manages US$200 million worth of assets, will also deploy the new fund in other renewable energy-related projects, besides investment themes related to scare resources and the ageing population, said partner Kevin Eggers.
“We are open to a broad range of investors and have a number of prospective Asian investors in our data room now, including Chinese strategic investors involved in the fuel cell vehicles supply chain,” he said in an interview with South China Morning Post.
AP Ventures was formed in July this year, with Anglo American contributing US$55 million in cash and six investments from a five-year-old venture capital unit worth US$45 million, while South Africa pension fund manager Public Investment Corporation has put in US$100 million cash.
With the advent of electric vehicles and announcements by various nations to phase out fossil fuel use in the next two decades, Anglo American has been funding start-ups that will bring about new demand sources for platinum, whose biggest demand is currently internal combustion engine vehicle exhaust emission abatement units.
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