Nine African countries win renewable energy development funding

Nine low-income African countries have been chosen to receive funding to transform their renewable energy services at the semi-annual Climate Investment Funds (CIF) governing body meeting, held last week in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Funding and operational support will be granted to Benin, Ghana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia, boosting the number of African countries piloting the CIF climate-smart investment scheme to 25.

The CIF has five implementing agencies, one of which – the African Development Bank (AfDB) – is set to work directly with the countries to gain support and act as an implementing agency while the nine African countries develop their new CIF investment plans.

“This move sends an impressive signal for change,” said Erastus Wahome, Kenyan representative and co-chair of the CIF’s Scaling Up Renewable Energy in Low Income Countries Program (SREP). “The additional donor support for energy transformation is a clear sign of confidence in the success we’ve already seen taking place in low-income countries in Africa and other regions, and a sign of developing countries’ continuing enthusiasm to commit to CIF-style transformation. I am proud that Kenya has helped lead the way for this transformation.”

Read the full article here


Global News

Audi energy: New sustainability program includes Bosch & SunPower systems

Audi of America (Herndon, Va.) on August 5th, 2014 announced the launch of “Audi energy”, a comprehensive program designed to help improve the electric vehicle (EV) ownership experience and reduce the carbon footprint that comes with vehicle production, distribution and driving.

SunPower Corporation (San Jose, Calif.) will provide an optional home solar photovoltaic (PV) system for Audi owners in the context of the sustainability program, especially for A3 Sportback e-tron (Plug-in-Hybrid) customers, including a newly developed home energy storage solution to capture additional solar power.

Audi energy will be available with the introduction of the first plug-in hybrid vehicle offered by the brand – the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, which is scheduled to debut at select dealerships in the U.S. during the second half of 2015. Through the Audi energy program, Audi will offer several opportunities to help improve sustainability and reduce carbon emissions. At-home Audi-designed Level 2 charging developed in conjunction with Bosch Automotive Service Solutions will be available for qualified owners of the A3 e-tron. Audi will also purchase carbon offset certificates in California and Africa to offset certain greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with A3 Sportback e-tron vehicles.

Read the full article here

Global News

Africa’s largest solar PV microgird project announced

MAECI Solar (Radnor, Pennsylvania, U.S.), GE Power & Water (Trevose, Pennsylvania, U.S.) and Princeton Power Systems (Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.) plan to install a microgrid powered by 5 MW of solar photovoltaics (PV) in Equatorial Guinea, in collaboration with the nation’s government.

The system will supply the electricity needs of the 5,000 residents of Annobón Province, an island off the coast of Central West Africa. GE describes the Annobon Electrification Project as the largest self-sufficient solar project in the African continent.

“GE’s energy storage technology will help enable reliable, predictable power for the residents of Annobon through balancing the real-time supply and demand of solar and withstanding extreme heat environments without the need for air conditioning,” said GE Solar and Energy Storage Business General Manager Jeff Wyatt. “This is an ideal technology for microgrids like Annobón Island.”

MAECI will supply the PV modules and system integration, Princeton will supply energy management system and controls, and GE a battery energy storage system.

The microgrid will be enabled by Princeton Power Systems’ BIGI-250 energy management platform, a three-port industrial scale energy management system. GE notes that Princeton has extensive prior experience working with its energy storage team.

Read the full article here

Global News

“Negawatts” – A new threat to traditional energy business models

Much has been made about the massive disruption that rooftop solar systems and distributed energy will bring to traditional energy business models. But there may be an even greater threat – the emergence of smart technology and software.

The growth of “negawatts” – where energy is not consumed – rather than megawatts is emerging as a major focus of industry analysts. What is becoming increasingly apparent is that while the rollout of solar modules may be massively disruptive, the major battles may be fought over software and other gadgets that will further reduce demand on centralised fossil fuel generation.

What makes this battle interesting is that the challenge is not only coming from a group of technology start-ups and up-starts, it is coming from some of the biggest companies in the world, including Google and Apple.

In a recent report titled Energy 2020: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised as Disruptors Multiply, investment bank Citigroup has a quick look at some of the technologies that are going to make life increasingly difficult for incumbent business models.

It notes that Google’s purchase of Nest and Apple’s introduction of its “Home Kit” signal a new era for energy demand management.

“The potential for tech giants to monetise “negawatts” through technology-facilitated energy efficiency represents a potentially significant transfer away from the hydrocarbon producers to the technologists, with utilities standing in the middle,” Citi notes.

Read the full article: on LinkedIn

Global News

Count the Savings

My GREEN Home – Count the Savings:

The Ngewana family set goals to reduce their electricity use by 40%, their water by 20% and the waste they send to landfill by 75%. They exceeded these goals after just 3 months- see results described below and track their ongoing progress on the Electricity and Water Consumption Dashboard below.

You can count your own savings with the help of the tools, guides and devices listed below in Resources and Sponsored Products. For more info on their interventions, see the theme pages on this website and the My Green Home Retrofit Summary. A case study will also be available by the end of September.

Visit the GBCSA Campaign Web Page: “My GREEN Home

Regional News

Cheap Hydrogen from Sunlight and Water

By Kevin Bullis on November 14, 2013 : Why It Matters

Stanford researchers say new materials could help lower the cost of producing fuel with solar energy. Hydrogen generated using sunlight could replace fossil fuels for transportation and electricity generation.

By making a solar photovoltaic material more resilient, researchers may have found a way to make artificial photosynthesis—that is, using sunlight to make fuel—cheap enough to compete with fossil fuels.

If you want hydrogen to power an engine or a fuel cell, it’s far cheaper to get it from natural gas than to make it by splitting water. Solar power, however, could compete with natural gas as a way to make hydrogen if the solar process were somewhere between 15 and 25 percent efficient, says the U.S. Department of Energy. While that’s more than twice as efficient as current approaches, researchers at Stanford University have recently developed materials that could make it possible to hit that goal. The work is described in the journal Science.

One way to make hydrogen using sunlight is to use a solar panel to make electricity and then use that electricity to power a commercial electrolyzer that splits water, forming hydrogen and oxygen. But combining the solar panel and the electrolyzer in one device might be cheaper and more efficient. The electrons produced when light hits a photovoltaic material could facilitate chemical reactions, and the capital costs of one machine would likely be lower than the cost of two (see “A Greener ‘Artificial Leaf,’” “Sun Catalytix Seeks Second Act with Flow Battery,” and “Artificial Photosynthesis Effort Takes Root”).

For some time now researchers have known that you could approach 15 to 25 percent efficiency if you combined two solar cell materials in such a system. One solar cell would power half of the water-splitting reaction—forming hydrogen. The other could form oxygen.

The hydrogen part is pretty much solved now, but researchers have had trouble with the oxygen half. The most efficient solar cell materials for this reaction (silicon, for example) quickly corrode. The Stanford researchers discovered that they could make silicon last for days, rather than just a few hours, by coating it with a protective layer of nickel just two-billionths of a meter thick. The materials split water for three days before the researchers stopped the experiment to examine the materials for damage. They found none.

Other materials—such as metal oxides—can last this long, but they split water very slowly. The new materials are an order of magnitude faster, says John Turner, a research fellow at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. “Over 40 years of work on oxides has not produced a result like this,” he says.

It could be a while before the materials are used in commercial hydrogen production. To achieve the needed efficiencies, the materials would still need to be incorporated into a system that uses two solar cells. And a big remaining question is how long the materials can last. To be economical, a system would have to run for at least five years, Turner says.

Global News

South Africa has become the tenth-largest global market for solar

South Africa has become the tenth-largest global market for utility scale solar, according to data compiled by solar watchdog Wiki-Solar.

Across the country, 15 large-scale solar PV plants of 4 MW or more generate 503 MW of solar PV annually, placing South Africa tenth overall. The leader is the U.S., which has 349 utility scale solar PV plants generating a combined total of 6,498 MW. In second place is China, with 4,607 MW, followed by Germany in third (3,428 MW), India in fourth (1,897 MW) and Spain rounding out the top five with 1,680 MW.

The U.K.’s surging utility scale sector currently boasts a cumulative capacity of 1,523 MW, placing it sixth (although the country is on course to rise rapidly up the ranks over the remainder of 2014 and early 2015 as installers look to beat the April 1 subsidy cut deadline), with Italy in seventh (875 MW), Canada eighth (714 MW) and France in ninth (677 MW).

South Africa’s encouraging performance is largely a result of the government’s renewable energy independent power producer program (REIPPP), which although off to a slow start has seen more than 60 MW of large-scale solar capacity added in the past month.

Round 1 of the REIPPP still sees a handful of further projects under development, with Rounds 2 and 3 in the pipeline suggesting South Africa could top 1 GW within the next nine months. The Department of Energy has released figures revealing that there are 17 preferred bidders in the third round of the REIPPP, with 47 projects signed off altogether for Rounds 1 and 2.

“France and Italy’s position in the top ten may soon be under threat,” said Wiki-Solar’s chief researcher, Philip Wolfe. “Substantial pipelines of projects, not just in South Africa but also in Japan and Chile, suggest that these countries will soon be contenders for a place in the top ten.”

Allied to wind and CSP power, South Africa is likely to boast 3,900 MW of renewable energy once the REIPPP reaches its conclusion.

Global News

REN21 – Renewables 2014 Global Status Report

The newly released Renewables 2014 Global Status Report is now available.
Find out what made 2013 another record year for renewables. Read about:

– expansion of supporting policies in developing economies
– additions to electricity generating capacity
– progress made in renewables heating and cooling
– shifts in investments
– leaders in renewable energy deployment
– evolution of the renewable energy field in the last decade

First released in 2005, REN21’s Renewables Global Status Report (GSR) provides a comprehensive and timely overview of renewable energy market, industry, investment and policy developments worldwide. It enables policymakers, industry, investors and civil society to make informed decisions. The report covers recent developments, current status, and key trends; by design, it does not provide analysis or forecast.

The Renewables Global Status Report relies on up-to-date renewable energy data, provided by an international network of more than 500 contributors, researchers, and authors.

Download the full PDF report: Global Status Report

Don’t forget to consult REN21’s Renewables Interactive Map for country specific analysis of the various trends highlighted in the GSR.

Global News

Green Building Council Namibia – 2014 Annual Convention

Please note: GBCNA Annual Convention 16th-18th of July 2014 Venue: Ministry of Mines & Energy

gbcna logo large

Green Building Council of Namibia & WHAT IT MEANS FOR NAMIBIA

Sustainable development is defined as: “development in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come.” As the world is moving closer to an all-encompassing pursuit of sustainability, the construction industry is not being left behind. In Namibia, large corporate clients and international funding agencies are beginning to insist on good environmental performance as a prerequisite for their projects.

Hitherto, the attempt at environmentally sustainable or “green” buildings have been rather a hit and miss affair, with the results dependent on the individual building owner or design consultant’s commitment to and knowledge of green issues. So-called “green” buildings have had as little as a few solar water heaters or as much as the full gamut of renewable energies to justify their claims to sustainability. This leaves the public in confusion as to the meaning of “green building” and has an adverse impact on the environment itself.

However, the formation of the Green Building Council of Namibia (GBCNA) offers a solution to this conundrum. Modeled on national Green Building Councils elsewhere, the GBCNA has reached the stage of Prospective Member on its way to full recognition as Emerging Member of the World Green Building Council. It has been registered as a Trust with a Board of Trustees and has opened its own bank account.

Operating an independent certification programe for green buildings (Green Star SA) as one of its primary activities, the Green Building Council offers clients, consultant teams and construction companies alike the opportunity to pursue and assess the overall environmental impact of their projects without subjective influences. Something we found is that in the early days we represented the GBCSA and the certification of buildings almost as one and the same thing. Now however we are looking to do a lot more as a GBC than just certify buildings and it may have be easier to allow for this later if you put forward the certification arm as one of the offerings of the GBC as opposed to its only / primary function.

The Green Star SA rating system is in the process of being adapted to the Namibian context based from the rating system operated by the Green Building Council of South Africa.

A project is evaluated through all stages: right from Design through to As-Built, according to the relevant Green Star rating tool (e.g. for “office”, “retail” or “public and education”, etc.). The Design stage submission must be done at tender stage and the As-Built within two years of Practical Completion.

Two qualified independent assessors (who remain incognito), do the assessment, supported by a panel of experts. Namibian assessments will initially be done by two international and two trainee Namibian assessors, until the GBCNA has reached capacity in terms of skills and numbers of assessors.

In order to apply for a Green Star certification, the consultant team must complete a considerable dossier of information based on the technical documentation of the building. This may seem daunting, but the application process in itself has a valuable educational role in terms of high-lighting various strategies for achieving environmental sustainability. After completing one application in this way, designing and constructing green buildings become much easier.

It must be emphasized that Green Star certification is not biased towards either alternative construction methods such as earth building, nor towards high-technology solutions such as photo-voltaic. It allows for a broad spectrum of interventions, with the emphasis on quantitative evaluation – in other words, measurement of performance. Vague claims as to “greenness” will largely become a thing of the past, with the result a clearer and more holistic demand for sustainability.

The objectives of Green Star SA tools are to:
• Establish a common language and standard of measurement for green buildings.
• Promote integrated, whole-building design.
• Raise awareness of the benefits of green building.
• Recognize environmental leadership.
• Reduce the environmental impact of development.

A four star rating is given for a 45 to 59% weighted score is equated with Best Practice. Country Excellence is shown by a five star rating on a score of60 to 74%. The very difficult to attain six stars, based on a 75 to 100% score, indicates World Leadership. This offers the Namibian industry a yardstick to compare against the rest of the world.

9 Aspects that are assessed include:
• Management
• Indoor Environment Quality
• Energy
• Transport
• Water
• Materials
• Land Use & Ecology
• Emissions
• Innovation

Green Star application also does not rely solely on the Principal Agent of the consultant team, but needs commitment and input from all – building owners, consultants, contractors & service providers. Electrical-Mechanical engineers in particular must be able to provide modeling of various aspects and if Design and Supply services (such as for solar) are involved, these suppliers also need to provide detailed information. As a result, the process requires considerable interaction and a close working relationship between all parties involved. This can only have a positive impact on the Namibian construction industry and result in better value for owners.

Owners as well, have to commit added time and funds to the process, as consultants must be paid for their supplementary services in preparing the applications. This is not as far-fetched as it seems, as has been proven the case in other countries and now by FNB in their commitment to a Green Star Design application for their new flagship building to be erected in the center of Windhoek. Owners perforce will thus become better educated about construction issues as a whole and have to be specific in their requirements for “green” building.

The Council itself is an independent non-profit trust funded by membership fees and income from training programes and assessments. Start-up funding to date has been provided by the UNDP via NEEP (Namibia Energy Efficiency Project) and the EIF (Environmental Investment Fund), with the Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Institute (REEEI) at the Polytechnic of Namibia acting as interim secretariat.

Membership will be in four different categories, with each accorded different privileges according to the category. Membership offer supporters benefits such as advertising rights, the right to proclaim their membership on their company letterhead, website, etc.
• Platinum
• Gold
• Silver
• Copper

An Associated Working Group (AWG) spearheaded the formation and launch of the GBCNA. The group consists of representatives from the various sectors listed as below:
• the private sector (engineers, architects, urban planners, solar industry)
• the financial sector (banks)
• the civic sector (UNDP, REEEI)
• government (Ministries of Works & Transport, Mines and Energy)
• Education (UNam and Polytechnic).

The GBCNA will have a potentially transforming effect on the Namibian Construction Market, as it has already been shown in Australia, South Africa and other countries.

Among other visible changes in the construction industry resulting from GreenStar schemes elsewhere, have been in the availability of sustainable construction materials. For example, ten years ago no paint manufacturers in Southern Africa supplied VOC-free paints. Now almost all of them do and are changing their standard ranges to VOC free.

Sustainability is becoming mainstream. Suppliers, contractors, architects and other building professionals cannot afford to lag behind. The Green Building Council of Namibia offers us a way of achieving that goal faster and better.

Further information on the GBCNA can be obtained from:

GBCNA Honorary Secretary
REEEI Polytechnic
Tel.: +264 61 207 2011/2154
Cell: +264 81 1245298/+264 81 1600005

Website with related information:

Local News

SA inaugurates first private solar power plant

The Droogfontein solar photovoltaic plant, in the Sol Plaatjie Municipality, is one of the first large solar farms in South Africa built by an independent power producer – Droogfontein Solar Power. Arising from the government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP), the plant has been built on a 100-hectare site on which there will be more than 165 000 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in operation. The project will supply the Eskom 132 kV gridline and generate 85 458 MW per year. This is sufficient electricity to supply approximately 19 000 average homes each year.

This power generation plant, privately owned by Globeleq – an emerging markets power company and other partners – has signed a 20 year Power Purchase Agreement with Eskom, as well as an Implementation Agreement with the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). The facility has benefited the local community, creating approximately 500 jobs during the peak of its construction.

Delivering the keynote address at the plant’s inauguration, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, Michael Masutha, said the DST supports the transition to a low-carbon economy, using cleaner energy solutions in line with the government’s vision to reduce carbon emissions and move towards a sustainable energy system.

“Renewable energy holds promise to improve energy security and access, and to solve other socio-economic challenges that South Africa is facing,” said the Deputy Minister. “The Department of Science and Technology is focusing on setting up the necessary systems to support the sustainable solar energy industry. This is done through supporting research, development and innovation in the energy sector, informing and influencing energy policy decisions, and supporting human capital development.”

To this end, the Department has established and is funding research initiatives at various institutions, such as the Renewable Energy Hub and Spokes Programme hosted at Stellenbosch University, the University of Pretoria, Fort Hare University, the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. The Department also supported the solar energy resource-mapping initiative implemented through the South African Weather Service and was also finalising the solar energy technology roadmap in collaboration with the DEA and the International Energy Agency.

The Deputy Minister further said, “It is foreseen that the DSTs funding and support to renewable energy research and technology development, as well as to human capacity development, will ultimately also benefit initiatives such as the Droogfontein Solar Photovoltaic Plant, providing technical expertise and competence to address the needs of such plants, as well as arriving at new solutions, products and processes to address future solar photovoltaic plants.”

Mark Pickering, General Manager of Droogfontein Solar Power, said, “We are proud to be one of the first private power producers established in terms of government’s Integrated Resource Plan, which encourages a diverse range of supply technologies to meet the country’s future electricity needs, reduce its carbon emissions and make a positive impact on local communities.”

He added, “Education and training are vital if we are to unlock the potential of this new industry and best utilise South Africa’s abundant solar resources. To this end, Droogfontein Solar Power will be devoting the bulk of its social economic development budget to support education.”

Regional News