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Aug 22, 2003

On-The-Air (22/08/2003)

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© Reuse this On Friday morning, AMLive’s radio anchor John Perlman spoke to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly.

Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:

Perlman: We are upgrading our power stations. I believe particular focus on one of the oldest ones.

Creamer: South Africa’s second-oldest power station, the Arnot Power Station out in Mpumalanga, is going to receive a capital injection of a billion rand over the next three years as part of a refurbishment programme. This is an indication of the ending of the era of surplus power-generation capacity. South Africa has had this power-capacity surplus since the late seventies, but this is now being taken up. Until 1999, half of Arnot power station was in mothballs and now we see the upgrade in order to reinforce the capacity of all six of its 350 MW units. Arnots’ total capacity is slightly larger than that of South Africa’s only nuclear power station, Koeberg, which shows that it is no minnow. Regrettably, Arnot is also one of the dirtiest power stations, so Eskom is now going to clean up its act using new fabric filters for units 1, 2 and 3. Of course, the Japanese are happy about the upgrade, winning a contract for more than R300-million for the turbine generator sets.

Perlman: Now, in the United States, when they go to a petrol station they ask for gas, now when we go to a petrol station we can also ask for gas. Tell me more about that.

Creamer: It is still at a very small scale now, but the first LPG gas petrol station open to public has made its appearance in Selby, Johannesburg. This will supply autogas, liquefied petroleum gas, LPG gas. Why should we use it? It is clean burning, so it is better for the environment and also for the car engine, with not so much carbon build-up and soot and it is also about a rand cheaper per litre than petrol. We see the Australians using LPG in a big way, with more than 3 500 LPG filling stations to Joburg’s one. Our one won’t be a huge retail station, because mainly fleets find it economical to use LPG, that is where it becomes viable, taking about 70 000 litres to pay off the conversion. Or otherwise you need to use about 10 000 litres a month so that you can have your own bulk LPG installation. We see that the Gauteng provincial government has now got 210 of its vehicles under LPG demonstration and, if that goes well, all 5 000 of the Gauteng provincial government’s vehicles will be driven by LPG gas, liquefied petroleum gas.

Perlman: Education training crucial if we are going to drive our industries. The University of the North, I believe, is offering something new.

Creamer: The degree of management of technology has been given a higher profile and the University of the North will become the first South African university to offer the management of technology degree course at honours level. That will be from January next year. The University of the North will do so in conjunction with Warwick University of the UK, which is committed to the concept of intergrated learning, so those doing the degree course will get practical experience and also receive lectures simultaneously. Seeing that work pretty well is one of the things Warwick boasts about, having transformed 40 black rural women into engineering-management masters graduates. These 40 black masters of engineering management are now employed at one of South Africa’s top utilities. Another statistic that promoters of technology management degree courses brag about is that Fortune magazine’s top-ten 40-year-olds are technology graduates. Of the top ten, seven have technology management degrees and only one an MBA, which leads promoters of the technology management degree to conclude that there should be more emphasis on technology in MBAs and even listed companies should have an index so investors are able to see at a glance how the company rates technologically.

Perlman: 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: Yolande Botes
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