Zimbabwe's main hydropower dam running out of water after drought

Zimbabwe's main hydropower dam could stop producing electricity in six months if water levels keep falling after the nation's worst drought in more than two decades, an official said on Friday.

Kenneth Maswera, Kariba Power Station's general manager told reporters that dam levels were at 12% of capacity, a level last recorded in 1992 during a severe drought.

Engineering News, 19 February 2016

Joemat-Pettersson wants nuclear under IPP office

The 9600 MW nuclear procurement programme should be run by the Independent Power Producer's (IPP) office, Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson said on Tuesday.

The renewable energy IPP procurement programme has been praised internationally for government’s successful partnership with the private sector, Joemat-Pettersson told the Portfolio Committee on Energy in parliament.

“If the IPP programme has delivered such good results, then we believe we are on the right track,” she said.  “We now have an IPP for gas and coal and hence our request to do nuclear along the IPP base,” she said.

Engineering News, 23 February 2016

Treasury's Eskom probe surprises CE Brian Molefe

Eskom CE, Brian Molefe, expressed surprise at media reports that the Treasury intended to scrutinise all of the utility’s coal supply contracts. 

Mr Molefe said Eskom had already co-operated with an investigation by the department last year into the same matter. Mr Molefe said Eskom had asked the Special Investigating Unit to examine all its contracts in 2011 and in 2013 the unit concluded its inspection, with no adverse findings.

Business Day, 23 February 2016

SAPVIA seeks new standards for local PV industry

The solar photovoltaic (PV) systems market urgently needs an enabling regulatory framework, as well as support for capacity-development efforts, if the sector is to reach its full potential, said the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) Rooftop PV Forum, at its inaugural meeting held earlier this week.

Hosted in collaboration with the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre, in Cape Town, the meeting discussed how minimum national standards, as well as installer training and accreditation measures – required to support the development of this nascent market segment in South Africa – could be put in place.

Engineering News, 23 February 2016

It could be "a year, two, or more" before SA has nuclear certainty – Gordhan

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan indicated on Thursday that it could be “a year, two, or more” before South Africa had certainty on how it would be proceeding with its contentious plan to introduce new nuclear capacity to the electricity mix.

In an interview with ENCA the day after Budget 2016, which made only scant reference to the plan to build 9600 MW of additional nuclear capacity besides the existing Koeberg plant, Gordhan stressed that the initiative was in the “very early stages”.

He also reiterated President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address assertion that South Africa would “only procure nuclear on a scale and pace that our country can afford”.

Engineering News, 25 February 2016

Eskom lab perfects method to identify potential fire risk

On Tuesday 23 February 2016, the South African state-owned power utility’s Research and Innovation Centre said that its visualisation laboratory can effectively calculate the extent of the danger a runaway fire may pose on existing transmission infrastructure.

The Advanced Fire Information System is able to indicate, along with the location of the fire, the likelihood of fire within a specific area based on weather parameters and can anticipate when a fire within the vicinity of a transmission line will cause a flashover occurrence. This gives the system operator the ability to determine which fires pose the most risks during fire intensive periods.

ESI-Africa, 25 February 2016