R/€ = 15.26Change: -0.01
R/$ = 14.41Change: -0.03
Au 1057.95 $/ozChange: 0.07
Pt 835.50 $/ozChange: 0.00
Note: Search is limited to the most recent 250 articles. Set date range to access earlier articles.
Where? With... When?

And must exclude these words...
Close Main Search
Close Main Login
My Profile News Alerts Newsletters Logout Close Main Profile
Agriculture   Automotive   Chemicals   Competition Policy   Construction   Defence   Economy   Electricity   Energy   Environment   ICT   Metals   Mining   Science and Technology   Services   Trade   Transport & Logistics   Water  
What's On Press Office Tenders Suppliers Directory Research Jobs Announcements Letters About Us
RSS Feed
Article   Comments   Other News   Research   Magazine  
Jan 27, 2012

27/01/2012 (On-The-Air)

Engineering|Africa|Flow|Gas|Health|Mining|Namibia|Platinum|Renewable Energy|Renewable-Energy|Solar|Storage|Technology|Testing|Waste|Water|Africa|Energy|Flow|Steel|Environmental|Waste
Engineering|Africa|Flow|Gas|Health|Mining|Namibia|Platinum|Renewable Energy|Renewable-Energy|Solar|Storage|Technology|Testing|Waste|Water|Africa|Energy|Flow|Steel|Environmental|Waste
© Reuse this

Every Friday morning, SAfm’s AMLive’s radio anchor Xolani Gwala speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:

Gwala: South Africa is set to benefit from its strong position in vanadium, which is being developed to store electricity. Tell us about that.

Creamer: South Africa at one stage was the biggest miners of vanadium. We do that out at Highveld Steel and Vanadium. The good news now coming out of China is that China wants to develop vanadium flow batteries. It wants to do that to store electricity.

Now, we notoriously waste electricity, we don’t do much storing of electricity that is why at night we have been trying to have the Drakensberg Water Scheme so that when no one is using electricity, we use it to pump the water up the mountain and then when the demand comes, we let it go down the mountain and generate the electricity. So, batteries have been looked at for a long time, but those hydro-schemes are few and far between and they are expensive.

At the moment, I think our storage in the world is about 1 000 MW or something like that. China is looking and this is a phenomenal number. Initially China gave the impression that they would look to store renewable energy, in other words, when the wind didn’t blow, they’d have energy, because they would have stored it while the wind was blowing.

When the sun was shining, they would have stored it so that they can have it when its not shining. People were working on a storage type of business that would have been related to renewal, but the Chinese have shaken their heads with this new test facility they just put in in December.

They are testing three types of storage facilities and saying that they are looking at storing 10% of all the electricity that China generates. The total picture which people are now saying if this happens in the next seven years as the Chinese are planning it gives birth to a trillion dollar plus industry.

People are having to move fast now to try and see how they can add to this. We know that the Americas are also looking at a lot of storage of electricity. Even last year this time Barrack Obama, when he was introduced to this vanadium flow battery, said that it is one of the coolest things his every looked at.

So, everybody is starting to consider the storage of energy and South Africa is very well placed. We have already got the platinum as we have been discussing here that can work on fuel-cells. This is also a type of fuel-cell, vanadium also a type of catalyst.

Perhaps this park that the government wants to establish, they are looking at some sort of Silicon Valley of platinum. Perhaps they could include other metals and minerals like vanadium, because after all Silicon Valley doesn’t really apply to silicon, it’s all high-tech stuff.

Gwala: Staying with matters surrounding energy, the US government is now offering South Africa’s free insights into the money-making shale-gas business.

Creamer: This is the second part of the dialogue with the US. It began in Washington last year, when the energy bodies of South Africa and US had a dialogue and now its continued this month in South Africa. The Americans are saying are saying that they have gone through the whole know-how process of shale-gas, they are a developed economy and they know the sort of environmental safeguards that are needed, the health standard etc.

We have got shale gas in the Karoo and they understand that the environmentalists are upset and they are stopping the process at the moment. The US Department of Energy, they have got a whole lot of know-how and recommendations how to overcome these environmental issues and they are prepared to share those with us.

This is something that South Africa should take up, because a developed world country like America has gone from zero to hero in shale gas in 12 years. At the turn of the century there was hardly any shale gas, because there wasn’t the technology to do it.

With the technological breakthrough, the fracking, of course, America has now 30% of its natural gas coming from shale gas. We can see a tremendous potential. We are sitting in the Karoo here they are talking about one of the biggest deposits of shale gas possibly 485-trillion cubic feet.

That has to be firmed up. Now we have got this helping hand saying let us give you a start on this, because we have gone through the process already and we know how valuable this. It is a miracle story, could make a lot of money for South Africa, and, of course, we also have to satisfy the environmental imperatives and hopefully with the help of the Department of Energy of the United States we can do so painlessly.

Gwala: Now, for a bit of a sad story really, after less then two years, South Africa’s one and only orbiting satellite has been declared dead and the space mission is now being wound up.

Creamer: It was a short-lived SumbandilaSat. It was smacked by a burst of solar radiation in mid-year last year. Of course, they have been trying to make contact with it, but fruitlessly. Now they have decided that they must just give up on that space mission.

So that space mission is being wound up. People are starting to ask how much did it cost? Initially we were told that the satellite was very cheap, R11-million.

It came out of the private sector. We have had SunSat, which was a private sector satellite that went up in the 90s and that was developed by Stellenbosch University. When it came to this new SunSat business being set-up they also developed and designed this satellite very cheaply.

Initially the figure of R11-million was raised then R26-million, but they have now calculated everything and they are saying that it cost about R100-million. When they look to the next satellite, which they will launch in a few years time, the budget is going to be much higher. They are now talking about R400-million for the next one. So, we can see a big step up on this. They claim that they had 1 000 or so images from the previous one that where usable.

They gave the images of the floods in Namibia and the tsunami in Japan. There was this earth observation imaging that we benefitted from. It is not all a loss situation, but still the transparency around how much these things cost will need to be far greater in future.

Gwala: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly, he’ll be back with us at the same time next week.

Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter
© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other SAFM
Latest News
French conglomerate Bollore may have to halt work on the Niger to Benin section of its giant West Africa rail project after a rival company won a court order to stop it going ahead. The dispute concerns rival rail schemes in the area.
A week ahead of the second annual gathering of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (Focac), in Johannesburg, the JSE is rolling out the proverbial red carpet for Chinese investors looking to Africa’s largest bourse for possible investment opportunities, calling...
The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) applied for leave to appeal on Friday against the Western Cape High Court judgment that set aside the approvals that would enable it to toll sections of the N1 and N2 freeways in Cape Town. This prompted the...
Recent Research Reports
Water 2015: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2015 Report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context but also in the African and global context in terms of supply and demand, water stress and insecurity, and access to water and sanitation, besides others.
Input Sector Review: Pumps 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2015 Input Sector Review on Pumps provides an overview of South Africa’s pumps industry with particular focus on pump manufacture and supply, aftermarket services, marketing strategies, local and export demand, imports, sector support, investment...
Liquid Fuels 2015: A review of South Africa's liquid fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2015 Report examines these issues in the context of South Africa’s business environment; oil and gas exploration; fuel pricing; the development of the country’s biofuels industry; the logistics of transporting liquid fuels; and...
Road and Rail 2015: A review of South Africa's road and rail sectors (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2015 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail infrastructure and network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and...
Defence 2015: A review of South Africa's defence sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Coal 2015 report examines South Africa’s coal industry with regards to the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local demand, export sales and coal logistics, projects being undertaken by the large and smaller participants in the...
Real Economy Year Book 2015 (PDF Report)
There are very few beacons of hope on South Africa’s economic horizon. Economic growth is weak, unemployment is rising, electricity supply is insufficient to meet demand and/or spur growth, with poor prospects for many of the commodities mined and exported. However,...
This Week's Magazine
The BMW Group will invest R6-billion at BMW Group South Africa’s (BMW SA’s) Rosslyn plant to produce the next-generation X3 sports-activity vehicle (SAV) for the local and export markets. Rosslyn will continue production of the current 3 Series through its lifecycle,...
The lack of consequences for poor performance and transgressions on the part of contractors remains a significant hurdle to tackling South Africa’s service delivery challenges, delegates heard at the Consulting Engineers South Africa Infrastructure Indaba, on...
City of Ekurhuleni executive mayor Mondli Gungubele earlier this month officially named the city’s bus rapid transit (BRT) system, Harambee.
NICK CHRISTODOULOU As about 58% of data stored by organisations is dark, they must identify this dark data to expose risks and valuable information
About 58% of unstructured data stored by companies is dark data, which means that the value or regulatory importance of the data has not been determined. Subsequently, most of the stored data add costs, rather than increasing revenue or reduce regulatory risks, says...
BRIAN VERWEY Effective management, review and administration of non-core elements can improve business operations and increase revenue and decrease unforeseen risks
Effective logistics, import/export and manufacturing consulting services require detailed industry knowledge and experience, but can add significant value to these industries by providing expert advice on various technical elements in their value chains, says...
Alert Close
Embed Code Close
Research Reports Close
Research Reports are a product of the
Research Channel Africa. Reports can be bought individually or you can gain full access to all reports as part of a Research Channel Africa subscription.
Find Out More Buy Report
Engineering News
Completely Re-Engineered
Experience it now. Click here
*website to launch in a few weeks
Subscribe Now for $96 Close
Subscribe Now for $96