BOOSTING COAL WITH SOLAR HAS LOCALISATION POTENTIAL, AREVA ARGUES – Concentrating solar booster projects for coal-fired power stations in South Africa can be constructed within about 18 months, can provide about 10% extra electricity and can be constructed using more than 60% local content, says French nuclear firm subsidiary Areva Solar business development lead Mikael Hajjar. The solar boiler uses compact linear Fresnel reflector (CLFR) technology, which consists of a solar array field of low-iron flat mirrors that focus sunlight up to a central receiver in which water boils into super-heated steam (up to 482 ºC). This steam is then injected directly into the coal-fired power station’s boiler to generate additional power without added emissions. Further, the system is compatible with the dry-cooling designs of the Matimba and Medupi coal-fired power stations, in Limpopo, and can be used in a closed-loop system to conserve water. “The advantage of the CLFR technology is its small land footprint. One booster will require about 6 ha, which, under Matimba’s sun, is above 7 MW electric or 22 MW thermal. “Further, from the moment we receive notice to proceed to the final commissioning date, it will be reasonable to achieve completion within 18 months to deliver a 50 MW boost to Matimba, for example,” says Hajjar. The boiler design has American Society of Mechanical Engineers S-stamp certification and is similar to a conventional boiler, which means it fits into South Africa’s skills profile. “The carbon steel piping and the frame structure for the booster can also be sourced locally relatively easily and our estimates indicate that we can easily reach above 60% local content, and that 80% local content is reasonably achievable,” he adds.
TARIFF INCREASE, RAW PRICE HIKE BOOSTS RAND WATER PROFIT – State-owned water utility Rand Water increased it profit before tax to R465-million for the six months ended December 31, on the back of a 12.9% tariff increase implemented on July 1, 2011, and a raw water price increase of 6% on April 1, 2011. The group’s profit margin widened by 0.9% to 13.6%. Rand Water says it increased its revenue to R3.4-billion during the period under review, from R3-billion in the same period in 2010. Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation increased by 13.6%, from R486-million in 2010, to R552-million in 2011. Despite the increase in raw water cost, raw water purchases have increased by 5.3% as a result of the averaged tariff contribution of 5.2%. Operating costs have increased by 20.2% compared with the same period last year, primarily as a result of the 31.6% increase in energy cost and 33.8% increase in chemical costs. “The current borrowing ratio declined marginally to 1.2:1, primarily as a result of declining cash reserves and increased trade payables as the group continued with its capital investment programme rollout. The gearing ratio continued to reduce from 13.6% in December 2010, to 12.9% during the period under review, reflecting the group's increasing borrowing capacity,” Rand Water says. [ADD PIC OF RAND WATER]
SA AGULHAS II HANDED OVER TO SA GOVERNMENT – South Africa’s newest modern research and supply ship, SA Agulhas II, was officially handed over to the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), following the successful completion of outfitting details and ice and sea trials. The R1.3-billion vessel, which was delivered within budget and on schedule, is replacing the 33-year-old SA Agulhas, which returned to South African shores in March, to be used for closer-to-shore projects. During a commissioning ceremony at STX Shipyard, in Rauma, Finland, DEA director-general Nosipho Ngcaba says that, while it marks the “end of an era” for the first SA Agulhas, South Africa welcomes the continuation of its research mandate in the form of the SA Agulhas II. Its maiden expedition voyage will be to Gough Island in September, followed by a trip to Antarctica in December. The multipurpose ship’s capabilities – in addition to carrying passengers and hosting a scientific research platform – included a cargo and dry bulk carrier element to enable the transport of supplies to three remote stations; a fuel tanker to transport bulk fuel for the bases and vehicles, as well as aviation fuel for helicopters; and a helicopter landing section. The vessel holds eight permanent and six containerised laboratories and was suitable for oceanography, meteorology, climate change, biodiversity, marine geoscience and marine engineering research. “[This ship is] a wise and worthy investment of our government that will create opportunities for our young scientists, but more importantly carry out research that will improve our country’s ability to predict climate change impacts,” says DEA deputy director-general of oceans and coasts Dr Monde Mayekiso.
Africa & the world
DRINKS GIANT DIAGEO’S AFRICA GROWTH TO ACCELERATE – British drinks giant Diageo expects its annual growth in Africa to accelerate beyond the current 15%, helped by its zero-duty Senator keg beer in Kenya and a strong rise in Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff spirit sales. Africa is Diageo's biggest emerging market region and vies with Latin America to be its fastest-growing, as economic growth accelerates in much of the continent and with its population of one billion set to double by 2050. "We are seeing more people with more money to spend, and with these drivers of growth in place we expect overall growth to accelerate," Diageo's Africa President Nick Blazquez says. The continent provides 14% of Diageo's group sales and the region has seen annual sales rise 15% over the last five years. He is optimistic for more growth, with seven of the world's ten fastest-growing economies in Africa. "Africa provides us with a great growth opportunity while western Europe and North America are difficult. We would expect spirits to grow faster than beer," he adds. The growth will help the group expand the proportion of its sales it makes in emerging markets - Chief Executive Paul Walsh set a target to get half its sales from these fast-growing markets by 2015 from around 38% currently. Some 80% of Diageo's Africa business comes from Nigeria, South Africa and East Africa, and Blazquez is keen to enter new markets such as Angola, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo with sales of spirits set to grow faster than beer sales.
EAST AFRICA OIL EXPLORATION DELAYED BY RIG SHORTAGE – A worldwide rig shortage is delaying oil drilling in east Africa, which is slowing growth and pushing up costs in one of the industry's hottest new exploration areas, industry players and officials say. Companies exploring for oil and gas reserves in east Africa say that they have had to queue up to secure a rig and pay top dollar when those rigs are procured. British firm Tullow Oil and its partner Africa Oil have announced they have discovered oil in Kenya for the first time, while additional quantities of gas deposits have been discovered in neighbouring Tanzania and nearby Mozambique. Discoveries in east Africa and other new exploration areas have made demand particularly tight, says Terry Bonno, VP of marketing at the world's largest offshore drilling company, Transocean. "The availability of ultra-deepwater rigs for 2012 is very constrained," Bonno says. The wait for a rig can last more than a year, and the rental price per day is often close to $500 000, according to analysts. "Limited availability ... is pushing rates up quickly, as evidenced by a few fixtures for short-term programmes above the $600 000 a day level," says Bonno, whose company has one ship off the coast of Mozambique. The average price for offshore rigs that drill deeper than 4 000 m is about $450 000 per day, data firm RigZone says.