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Energy efficiency in South African Agriculture

According to the REN21 global status report, Brazil, China, India and South Africa are leading the development of large-scale innovative programmes that deal with the challenges of energy access and sustainability within rural communities. Innovative off-grid energy technologies must be phased in to meet the demands of the agricultural sector’s 3.6% annual growth and delink it from non-renewable power sources across the food chain from source to consumer. South Africa has vast untapped renewable energy sources especially in solar and wind energy. In addition, there is a large absorptive capacity among farmers and farming cooperatives for off-grid energy technology. Trevor de Vries, managing director 3W Power South Africa, says, “Based on the number of large-scale solar installations on farms in the Western Cape, the market is ready for innovative, off-grid solutions that are custom-designed for farmers, co-operatives and smallholdings.”

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Zimbabwe: Smart Metering Technology Promotes Energy Efficiency

Zimbabwe stands to save more than US$120 million worth of energy a year if it speeds up the installation of smart meters, which have the capacity to reduce transmission and distribution losses, energy experts say. An independent energy solutions expert Mr Ben Mavedzenge, said if Zesa accelerated the installation of smart meters, it could realise huge savings as customers better manage and reduce their energy consumption and costs. "Accelerating the installation of smart meters is the way to go," he said. "The (other form of) prepaid meter system (currently being used) is costing the country heavily in terms of transmission and distribution loses. It's a closed system that has serious short comings. We need efficient and dependable systems such as smart meters which can reduce our energy costs."

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Kenya's Energy Sector Investors to Get AFDB Soft Loans

The African Development Bank has said Kenyan manufacturers will benefit from concessional funds in order to develop industries for supplying components to the renewable energy sector. In its annual report titled 'Climate Investment Funds 2013', the lender said the decision to benefit Kenyan investors came up because of the geothermal steam field being developed in Menengai by the Geothermal Development Company. The geothermal project was approved in 2011 so as to set the stage for investments that will transform the country to a clean energy economy and to meet increasing power demand.

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South Africa to add more renewables to next procurement round

Additional renewable energy capacity, including onshore wind and photovoltaic power generation projects, will be granted approval under the third round of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP), the country’s Department of Energy (DoE) has announced. According to a DoE statement announcing a round of national infrastructure programmes, the department will consider allocating additional megawatts for renewable energy projects because bidding prices were competitive in the REIPPP. Minister of energy Dikobe Ben Martins said that prices in the third round of the REIPPP reflected a downward trend from the first and second rounds, which has also allowed for the additional capacity.

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SA revises its solar water heating programme

South Africa’s department of energy (DoE) says that the country’s effort to introduce a new procurement model for the national solar water heating (SWH) programme is at an advanced stage. Government has decided to stop the subsidisation of imported SWH systems in favour of local manufacturing to increase job creation, industrialisation and the socio-economic impact of the programme. Working with other government departments such as the Departments of Trade and Industry, National Treasury, Higher Education and Training, Public Enterprises and Economic Development, and Eskom, the Industrial Development Corporation and the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), the DoE says this this revised contracting model as the only basis for accessing government subsidies under the SWH rebate programme.

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Mining Industry Meets to Explore Renewable Energy Possibilities

Renewable energy continues to creep into the mining industry, and many professionals are heading to Johannesburg to discuss hybrid solutions for powering their African operations. Faced with spiraling energy costs and increasing supply challenges, African mines are looking to diversify their energy mix to secure power and stabilize pricing. Many mining companies in Africa are already assessing or deploying renewables to address the real and growing energy stress in this market. Australian mining firm, Rio Tinto, powered its $5.2 billion Diavik diamond mine via wind energy. India’s Tata Power Co. Ltd. continue to venture into African nations that, coincidentally, are rich with mining capabilities. The Indian firm is also investing in renewable energy, which could indicate a method of power generation for mining activities.

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Namibia: Parliament to Host Renewable Energy Sources Conference

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economics, Natural Resources and Public Administration is to host a two-day conference on renewable energy sources in Namibia, it announced yesterday. The two-day conference would take place in Windhoek in the National Assembly chambers next week Monday and Tuesday. "It will be attended by more than 250 people including international and local experts on renewable energy sources, said the chairperson of the committee, Ben Amathila, at a press conference yesterday in the capital. According to him nine companies have also been invited to exhibit their products in the courtyard of the National Assembly.

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Study Shows Jatropha Not Viable for Kenya

The World Agroforestry Center published a study in its “Energy for Sustainable Development” that revealed that the biofuel feedstock plant, jatropha, may be counterproductive for farmers in Kenya. The research said that while rising food and energy costs were forcing smallholder farmers to look for alternative crops, new crops with limited understanding could be worse. The study said that crops should be promoted and adopted when farmers have knowledge about its cultivation and with access to a reliable market. Jatropha was encouraged to Kenyan farmers, but the crop failed.

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Cameroon: Renewable Energy Supply for Rural Areas

SMEs are called upon to set up small hydro and biomass electricity production plants. The energy situation in rural Cameroon is characterised by traditional fuels like kerosene, wood, and low-power generators. Where the national power utility corporation is present, electricity supplies are unreliable, access limited, use often inefficient, and are still without access to modern energy services.

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Can Africa leapfrog the carbon energy age?

Africa has a chance to divert from the fossil fuels dependency path and pursue clean energy development. Some see Africa as the land of poverty, others as the continent with the fastest economic growth. That growth, and getting out of poverty, need energy. And more energy, common wisdom suggests, means more fossil fuels - coal, oil and gas. This is why climate change policy makers do not look much at Africa when it comes to pushing for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. They assume that in Africa the emissions should go up, and up, and up before they start going down. Look at China, India or Turkey and you get the picture.

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Tanzania: Public Institutions to Get Free Solar Power Systems

STEPS Solar and Tanzania Renewable Energy Association (TAREA) have agreed to install solar energy systems in some public institutions and dispensaries free of charge. Speaking with journalists yesterday in Dar es Salaam, the spokesperson for Steps Solar, Mr Moses Manyilu, said that the solar energy systems to be installed will cost 30m/- and that beneficiaries will include police posts, orphanage centres and secondary schools, among others.

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Africa: Low-Income Green Economies Woo Private Capital, More Needed - Experts

Business should play a bigger role in financing renewable energy and green growth in low-income countries, to help build a buffer against climate change, experts told a recent conference in Ethiopia's capital. Nanki Kaur, a senior researcher with the climate change group at the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), told Thomson Reuters Foundation the private sector isn't yet doing enough, partly due to issues around the viability and costs of pursuing green economy strategies.

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Rwandan 8.5 MW PV project

The first utility scale photovoltaic (PV) project in Rwanda and in that part of Africa, is a 8.5 MW facility located next to the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, a residential community which provides education and support for orphaned children. The project achieved financial close on 14 February 2014 and construction has commenced. The project has been developed by Gigawatt Global and the sponsors include Norfund and Scatec. Scatec has been one of the leading developers and contractors in the South African renewable energy independent power producer (IPP) programme and is also the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for this project in Rwanda. The project financing is provided by senior lenders FMO and Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund with Norfund providing mezzanine debt.

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Lesotho Highlands II water project begins

Lesotho and South Africa has begun the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water project. The project provides much needed water to South Africa but also creates an opportunity for the required infrastructure development and energy generation in Lesotho.

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Focus on energy storage increasing

The need for grid energy storage is growing fast and many new start-ups are responding to this need. However, much to the frustration of these start-ups, the utility-scale market is going to take time to establish itself, according to Engerati This is mostly due to the fact that utilities are conservative and risk averse. According to Pike Research, reduced costs, regulatory support and business model clarification is required for utility-scale storage to become established. Pike Research values the global market at US$1.5 billion by 2015 and this is a relatively conservative forecast. Lux Research, for instance, predicts the global grid-scale storage market to be worth US$114 billion by 2017 and Boston Consulting Group forecasts a US$400 billion market by 2020.

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Liberia’s Mount Coffee hydroelectric plant being modernised

Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda yesterday agreed to develop a joint power generation project to increase power supply in the three countries. This was reached during a meeting of the Heads of State of the three countries in Kampala, Uganda, dubbed the Fourth Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit..

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North African power sector investment

Electricity demand in North Africa is escalating as a result of economic development and rising living standards, as well as sustained population growth. Supply of electricity, however, is plunging. Hot summers are driving the extensive use of air conditioning, which has led to sharp surges in peak electricity demand. The challenge of operating with grossly inadequate power supply infrastructure is compounded by political instability, which has stalled progress on many power generation capacity expansion projects, especially in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya.

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Advising African government on improving power systems

International energy consultant, intec Gopa, is busy advising several African governments and superregional organisations on the efforts to develop their power supply systems by extending and improving the power generation capacity and the national/regional transmission and distribution networks. In Nigeria intec is assisting various initiatives of the Nigerian government for transmission lines and substations to connect seven medium-sized power stations under NIPP and several utility scale projects with the Transmission Company of Nigeria. The company is also working with the private sector at different levels and has provided services for QIT (Mobil) gas power plant evacuation, and is active in the growing market of renewable energy, especially in the field of medium-sized grid connected solar power plants. intec is also engaged in manpower development activities through the Nigerian Power training institute along with parent group Gopa.

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The World Bank's Thirsty Energy initiative

Diego Rodriguez, senior economist of the World Bank?s water unit, says the institution officially launched Thirsty Energy at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi in January 2014. ?Our entry point is the energy sector, which is rather unconventional; Thirsty Energy aims to deal with the strong interlinkages from the energy rather than a water perspective. As such, the initiative needs to work initially with the energy community and then bring the water community to ensure that we develop integrated planning and integrated investment solutions.? In the United States, power plants have already shut down or reduced electricity generation due to low water flows or high water temperatures and licenses for new plants have been revoked or delayed due to lack of water availability; in the north-east of Brazil, a drought led to eight months of power rationing; in India, power plants have shut down for days due to lack of water; in France and the United States nuclear plants have had to shut down due to increasing water temperatures.

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Kenya Clean Energy Centres Drive Efficiency, Switch to Renewables

In a bid to reduce the pressure on forests depleted by the burning of wood for fuel, the Kenyan government has set up a network of centres to promote energy-efficient cooking stoves. Besides distributing the stoves and training people to use them, the 17 centres, soon to be joined by a further four, are also encouraging rural residents to plant trees best suited for fuel and cattle fodder. The scheme is part of a government push, underscored in a draft national energy policy published this year, to promote renewable energy sources including solar, biogas, and hydropower alongside more sustainable use of charcoal and wood fuel.

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Kenya: Funding for Turkana Power Project Finally Complete

Nairobi ? The Lake Turkana Wind Power Project (LTWP) has marked a significant milestone with the signing of a Sh76 billion loan with over 10 different financiers, which brings to completion the project's financing aspect. The financiers have been brought together by the African Development Bank (AfDB) with the European Investment Bank (EIB) giving the highest contribution of Sh23 billion. Speaking during the signing ceremony on Monday, Lake Turkana Wind Power Chairman Carlo Van Wageningen said the move will see the kick-off the long awaited project in June this year. "Nine years of sitting at desks, preparing paper work, nine years of studies have been really long. We are people of action and we will act. We want to be in the field and break ground as soon as possible because we want to bring this change to Kenya," Wageningen said.

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Renewable energy fund for sub-Saharan Africa

In what is believed to be one of the first renewable energy funds in Africa, the plan is to increase the initial US$100 million for the African Renewable Energy Fund by the same amount. Managed by Berkley Energy Africa, the money will support small and medium-sized independent power producers with grid-tied projects of five to 50 MW including small hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and waste gas. The Fund will commit US$10 to US$30 million for the development stage of each project, and larger projects may be able to access larger amounts. It will likely support the newly formed Africa Clean Energy Corridor, which 19 countries have agreed to develop to leapfrog the continent to renewable energy.

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Biofuels in South Africa

The use of biofuels as a renewable energy source presents the potential for numerous environmental, energy security and efficiency benefits to the South African economy. The biofuels industry also has potential as a key source of employment. In light of this potential, government has sought, over the past few years, to put in place a policy environment conducive to the development of a robust national biofuels industry. These attempts have been only partially successful. However, very recently the biofuels policy debate has been re-ignited by the release of the Draft Position Paper on the South African Biofuels Regulatory Framework (the ?Position Paper?). One of the first policy interventions related to biofuels was the White Paper on Renewable Energy, November 2003 (Renewable Energy White Paper) which set a target of 10,000 GWh of final energy production from renewable energy sources, by the year 2013.

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Africa: Website Offers Global View of Small Hydroelectric Projects

It is now easier to access reliable data on small hydropower projects globally following the launch of a website designed to promote this technology, says a UN body. The UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the International Center on Small Hydro Power (ICSHP), a China-based, non-profit body that promotes this form of energy worldwide, launched the site last month (13 February). "The first step is to share knowledge so that decision-makers, stakeholders, investors and local communities can benefit and learn from our resource," says Liu Heng, the ICSHP's director-general. Small hydropower plants - producing up to ten megawatts of power (almost enough to run a 20-carriage, high-speed train) - generate this energy from flowing water. Such plants offer the chance of energy independence to rural communities that are not connected to the electricity grid, says the website.

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SA mines to invest in renewables

Renewable energy technologies will supply between 5% and 8% of the world?s mining industry power consumption by 2022, according to research by Navigant Research. The report, which analyses the global market for renewable energy in the mining industry, predicts that renewable energy will pick up significantly in the industry, as innovative finance mechanisms increase. According to Arthur Chien, CEO of Talesun Energy, increased adoption of renewable energy practices is the key driver to achieving a sustainable future for South Africa?s mining sector. ?Renewable energy provides stable and reliable electricity generation. For example, Eskom, which is constantly under pressure to increase capacity and revitalise its grid, is currently suffering major outages effecting businesses all around the country. Moreover, in February four generators tripped and as a result the energy provider requested that mines reduce consumption by 10%. Eskom says there is enough electricity capacity to meet the country?s current demand, but reserve margins remain tight. This is a serious cause for concern for many mining houses.?

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Zambia: U.S.$100 Million Earmarked for Small Power Producers

The African Renewable Energy Fund (AREF) has committed US $100 million capital to support small-to medium-scale independent power producers (IPP)s in the Sub-Sahara Africa. The move is a major boost for Sub-Sharan African countries which will enable them to explore energy sources to offset power deficits being experienced in respective countries. These funds would be invested in grid-connected development stage renewable energy projects including small hydro, wind, geothermal, solar, biomass and waste gas. Investor groups include West African Development Bank (BOAD), Ecowas Bank for Investment and Development (EBID), Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V. (FMO), Calvert Foundation, Berkeley Energy and ABREC, who are the vision-bearers of the fund.

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