Renewable energy technologies

Electricity

I A pumped storage plant consisting of two 200 MW turbine units located at the Steenbras Dam, two kilometres upstream of the Kogelberg Dam on the Palmiet River near Cape Town, pumps water to the dam and generates electricity from running the water down again in peak periods. At night, excess power on the grid generated by the conventional coal and nuclear plants is used to pump water to the upper reservoir. The project was regarded as a forerunner in environmental engineering and the whole site is a conservation area that in December 1998 was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. The plant, operated by Eskom, is capable of responding to a surge in peak power demand in minutes. It has reduced the number of black-out incidents in Capetown and saved the city approximately USD 320 000 /month.

I A he Darling wind farm, 70 km from Capetown, is the first commercial utility-scale, renewable energy project in South Africa (other than hydro). As a national demonstration project opened in May 2008 after two years of construction, four 1.3 MW turbines generate a total output of 13.2 GWh/yr. The city of Cape Town has contracted to purchase the electricity from the independent power producer for 20 years, apparently for around 20% above the Eskom electricity price, in order to make it a viable project. To make up the shortfall, consumers in the voluntary green market can purchase green electricity certificates from this source at a cost of USD 0.03 /kWh, in addition to the normal electricity costs. The demonstration wind project includes a visitor and education centre.

Heating

I Ao meet the city's goal of having 10% of all households and 10% of all city-owned housing equipped with solar water heaters by 2010, the Solar Water Heater Advancement Programme was developed. It calls for solar water heater installations to be undertaken on all new buildings, a subsidisation scheme, and a project to install solar water heaters on the facilities of the city's nature reserve.

I A he Kuyasa project aims to install 6 300 solar water heaters in this low-income housing settlement, along with insulated ceilings and energy efficient lamps. It is supported as a clean development mechanism (CDM) project under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The project, initiated by the city, will cost an estimated USD 1.5 million and over 2 300 solar water heaters have already been installed in less than a year. Each system with a capacity of 110 litres, helps to reduce annual GHG emissions by 1.29 tCO2/household/yr, compared with heating by coal-fired electricity. Residents pay a portion of the installation costs but overall will save approximately USD 100/yr. The city will train local plumbers and electricians to install and maintain the systems and keep residents informed about renewable energy propects.

Transport

I A little more than half the total energy in Cape Town is used by the transport sector. The city has created a goal of a fully operational 'non-motorised' transport strategy by 2015. To meet this goal, the city is promoting bicycle and pedestrian transport with increased bicycle lanes and walkways; creating pilot projects for suitable cleaner transport fuels and options, including biofuels; and providing information to the public on feasible alternative transport energy sources.

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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