Programmes 2017-07-13T18:31:09+00:00

Energy Basics

Waste to Energy 2017-07-12T08:54:18+00:00

What is Waste to Energy?
Generating electricity from landfill waste and pollution.
In a more technical term: Waste-to-energy (WtE) or energy-from-waste (EfW) is the process of generating energy in the form of electricity and/or heat from the incineration of waste.

What does this technology do?
WtE is a form of energy recovery. Most WtE processes produce electricity and/or heat directly through combustion, or produce a combustible fuel commodity, such as methane, methanol, ethanol or synthetic fuels.

How does it do this?
There are a number of other new and emerging technologies that are able to produce energy from waste and other fuels without direct combustion. We have Thermal technologies and Non thermal technologies.

Thermal technologies
Plasma arc gasification or plasma gasification process (PGP) is a process which converts organic material into synthetic gas, electricity, and slag using plasma produces rich syngas including hydrogen and carbon monoxide usable for fuel cells or generating electricity to drive the plasma arch, usable vitrified silicate and metal ingots, salt and sulphur
Thermal depolymerization is an industrial process for breaking down various materials into crude oils produces synthetic crude oil, which can be further refined
Gasification is a process that converts organic or fossil based carbonaceous materials into carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide produces combustible gas, hydrogen, synthetic fuels
Pyrolysis is a form of decomposition which takes place in an environment with little to no oxygen, with high temperature and pressure produces combustible tar/biooil and chars

Non Thermal
Anaerobic digestion is a biological process whereby bacteria breakdown organic material into more basic compounds without requiring oxygen as a component of the process (Biogas rich in methane)
Fermentation production is a metabolic process converting sugar to acids, gases and/or alcohol (examples are ethanol, lactic acid, hydrogen)
Mechanical biological treatment (MBT) system is a type of waste processing facility that combines a sorting facility with a form of biological treatment such as composting or anaerobic digestion


  • Technologically advanced means of waste disposal
  • Also generating clean, renewable energy
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting recycling through the recovery of metals

In thermal WtE technologies, nearly all of the carbon content in the waste is emitted as carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere
Does it need supporting technology and how does it work?
With rapid industrialization, the world has seen the development of a number of items or units, which generate heat. Until now this heat has often been treated as a waste, making people wonder if this enormous heat being generated can be transformed into a source of electric power.

Is SA suited for this technology?
It is, incineration is common practiced in SA but not directed to WTE
Is SA Using the technology at the moment?
Less than 10% of South Africa municipalities generate electricity from Waste to energy process.
South African thermal WTE is still in its infancy stage and are undertaken by few private companies.

What is the future plan for this technology?
Public Private Partnership is very important in developing WTE projects
WTE Initiative still faces challenges such as public opposition

Biodiesel 2017-07-12T08:51:44+00:00

What is Biodiesel?
Is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement.
In a more technical term it is referred to a vegetable oil or animal fat-based diesel fuel consisting of long-chain alkyl (methyl, ethyl, or propyl) esters.

How does it work?
It is made through a chemical process called transesterification whereby the glycerine is separated from a fat or vegetable oil. The process leaves behind two products, methyl esters (the chemical name for biodiesel) and glycerine.

What does this do?
Biodiesel is meant to be used in standard diesel engines and is thus distinct from the vegetable and waste oils used to fuel converted diesel engines. Biodiesel can be used alone, or blended with petrodiesel in any proportions. Biodiesel can also be used as a low carbon alternative to heating oil.

Benefits/ Advantages
Reduces Greenhouse gas emissions by atleast 57% and up to 86% when compared to petroleum diesel making it one of the most practical cost-effective ways to immediately address climate change. Also reduces major tailpipe pollutants from petroleum diesel particularly from older diesel vehicles. Industries are constantly looking for new technologies and feedstock, in fact they demand less expensive, reliable sources of fats and oils. It is less toxic than table salt and biodegrades as fast as sugar its use contributes to the Economy.


  • Biodiesel gels in cold but the exact temperature that it will gel at will depend on what it was made from.
  • The Negative sentiment and fear that surrounds it, Fear that if I use biodiesel in my car I will break it and void the warranty.
  • Biodiesel grows mold, use it while it is still well and fresh.
  • It is more likely to have water in it is because some manufacturers use water to Wash their biodiesel. If it is poorly made or not separated from the water correctly you might end up with some water in your tank.
  • When using biodiesel that does not measure up to the set quality standards you might experience an up to 25% decrease in horsepower. Pure Biodiesel and blends above 20% will degrade and soften the rubber and plastics that are used in some older cars over time. Biodiesel has Higher Nitrogen Oxide Emissions.

Does it need supporting technology and how does it work?
It can be used in existing diesel engines without modification and is covered by all major engine manufacturers’ warranties, most often in blends of up to 5% or 20% biodiesel.

Is SA suited for this technology?
Biodiesel Centre in Bellville, Western Cape, founded by Neville Murray, is probably the leading supplier of biodiesel fuel in South Africa currently. It also supplies equipment for biodiesel production and is looking for partners in biodiesel projects in the rest of Africa.
Biodiesel Centre is well known in South Africa for supplying biodiesel for the 5% biodiesel blend (95% is mineral diesel) used in trucks distributing for Woolworths, South Africa’s most upmarket food retailer.
What is the future plan for Biodiesel in SA?
South Africa has set the beginning of October 2015 as the date from which fuel producers will have to blend diesel and petrol with biofuels, the Department of Energy said on Monday.
The government said in August last year that fuel producers would be required to blend a minimum of 5 percent biodiesel in diesel


Biomass 2017-07-12T08:50:12+00:00

What is biomass?
Biological material from plants and some animals that can be turned into fuel.

What does it do?
When burned, biomass can create energy in the form of electricity, heat, or chemical energy; however, biomass does not have to be burned to be useful. For example, garbage usually includes plant and animal products, and when left to rot can create a gas called methane.

How does it do this?
The types are:

  1. Biopower uses plant matter and converts it to steam. This steam is used to power things such as coal engines, wood stoves, and steam engines.
  2. Bioproducts created from organic plant or animal matter and can be in the form of chemicals, materials, or energy. Some examples include cleaning chemicals made primarily from plants and biodegradable plastics also made from plant material.
  3. Biofuels, with oil costs rising drastically, biomass is an effective alternative to oil products in the form of biofuel, which can be used to fuel vehicles and is made of plant matter. One example is bioethanol, which is mixed with gasoline and used by some states to fuel vehicles. A combination of gasoline and bioethanol is often preferred because it runs cleaner than straight gasoline and is far more cost effective.

• Biomass is very abundant. It can be found on every square meter of the earth as seaweed, trees or dung.
• It is easy to convert to a high energy portable fuel such as alcohol or gas.
• It is cheap in contrast to the other energy sources.
• Biomass production can often mean the restorations of waste land (e.g. deforested areas).
• It may also use areas of unused agricultural land and provide jobs in rural communities.
• If it is produced on a renewable basis using biomass energy does not result in a net carbon dioxide increase as plants absorb it when they grow.
• It is very low in sulphur reducing the production of acid rain.

• Expensive: Living things are expensive to care for, feed, and house, and all of that has to be considered when trying to use waste products from animals for fuel.
• Inefficient as Compared to Fossil Fuels: is the relative inefficiency of biomass energy. Ethanol, as a biodiesel is terribly inefficient when compared to gasoline, and it often has to be mixed with some gasoline to make it work properly anyway.
• Harmful to Environment: using animal and human waste to power engines may save on carbon dioxide emissions, but it increases methane gases, which are also harmful to the Earth’s— ozone layer. And speaking of using waste products, there is the smell to consider. While it is not physically harmful, it is definitely unpleasant, and it can attract unwanted pests (rats, flies) and spread bacteria and infection. On top of that, ethanol is harmful to combustion engines over long term use.
• Consume More Fuel: using trees and tree products to power machines is inefficient as well. Not only does it take a lot more fuel to do the same job as using conventional fuels, but it also creates environmental problems of its own. To amass enough lumber to power a nation full of vehicles or even a power plant, companies would have to clear considerable forest area. This results in major topological changes and destroys the homes of countless animals and plants.
• Require More Land: Combustion of biomass products require some land where they can easily be burnt. Since, it produces gases like methane in atmosphere; therefore it can be produced in those areas which are quite far from residential homes.

Does it need support and how does it work?
Every plant contains components that can give large outputs of energy through a process known as photosynthesis; biomass takes advantage of these components, as well as the energy found in a plant’s photosynthesis process, to create fuel. A plant is composed of cells, water, and the compounds used in photosynthesis, the process of using carbon dioxide and the sun’s energy to provide a plant with the food, or carbohydrates, it needs to grow. Biomass takes the components of a plant and creates a mixture of three-quarters carbohydrates and one-quarter plant matter; these carbohydrates are mixed with other plant matter in order to create chemicals, fuel, or energy.

Is SA suited for Biomass?
South Africa has much more to offer when considering the capacity to grow total plant biomass (all
lignocellulosic plant biomass) and not only the production of crops suggested by the Biofuels Industrial

Is SA using this Biomass at the moment?
The total biomass production capacity of South Africa was estimated at 94 Mt/annum.
It is interesting to note that if about 20% of South Africa’s total land mass of 120 Mha are used
for biomass production at a moderate yield of 3 t/ha, the required 60+ Mt/ha can be reached readily

Offshore Wind Turbines 2017-07-12T08:45:24+00:00
Offshore wind power refers to the construction of wind farms in bodies of water to generate electricity from wind. Unlike the typical usage of the term “offshore” in the marine industry, offshore wind power includes inshore water areas such as lakes, fjords and sheltered coastal areas, utilising traditional fixed-bottom wind turbine technologies, as well as deep-water areas utilising floating wind turbines.

Wind turbines capture the kinetic energy of wind with their turning blades, which transfer the energy to a spinning rotor shaft that drives an electric generator. Because of the relative ease of transporting large components by sea, offshore wind turbines can be much bigger—and capture more kinetic energy—than their land-based counterparts. Offshore turbines have blades that spin in a circle up to 400 feet in diameter—twice as wide as the wingspan of a Boeing 747—and generate up to five megawatts (MW) of electricity, compared with the 240-foot span and 1.5 MW capacity common for today’s land-based turbines. Offshore turbine towers also do not need to be as tall (relative to the size of their blades) as land-based turbines (which average 250 feet), because open water is free of the vegetation and topography that create wind shear and turbulence over land.

The wind is much stronger on the ocean (and in the Great Lakes) where there are no terrain features, buildings, or other obstructions to slow it down. That means that a turbine can generate more energy over the year compared to the same model in most locations on land.

Those higher winds bring storms, big waves, and corrosion from salty water and air. Installing and maintaining wind farms at sea is much more complex than on land, requiring special equipment and good weather. Projects in the North Sea have proven that it can be done, but at great cost — more than double the maintenance costs onshore.
Onshore Wind Turbines 2017-07-12T08:43:52+00:00

A wind turbine is a device that converts kinetic energy from the wind into electrical power. This is the result of historical windmill development, often used to pump water or grind grain, and modern wind turbine engineering.  Current wind turbines are manufactured in a wide range of vertical and horizontal axis types. Arrays of onshore large turbines, known as wind farms, are an increasingly important source of renewable energy and are used by many countries as part of a strategy to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

Not all the energy of wind can be harvested, due to the conservation of mass that requires that as much mass of air exits the turbine as enters it. Betz’ law calculates the maximum achievable extraction of wind power by a wind turbine as 59% of the total kinetic energy of the air flowing through the turbine. Further inefficiencies, such as rotor blade friction and drag, gearbox losses, generator and converter losses, reduce the power delivered by a wind turbine. Thus, commercial utility-connected turbines deliver about 75% of the Betz limit of power extractable from the wind, at rated operating speed.

Wikipedia provides the record wind turbine specifications as:

  • Largest capacity: Vestas V164 has a rated capacity of 8.0 MW, has an overall height of 220 m (722 ft), a diameter of 164 m (538 ft), and is the world’s largest-capacity wind turbine since its introduction in 2014. At least five companies are working on the development of a 10 MW turbine.
  • Largest swept area: Samsung S7.0-171, with a diameter of 171 m, giving a total sweep of 22 966 m2.
  • Tallest: Vestas V164 is the tallest wind turbine, standing in Østerild, Denmark, 220 m tall, constructed in 2014.
  • Highest tower: Fuhrländer install a 2.5MW turbine on a 160 m lattice tower in 2003.
  • Largest vertical-axis: Le Nordais wind farm in Cap-Chat, Quebec has a vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) named Éole, which is the world’s largest at 110 m. It has a nameplate capacity of 3.8 MW.
  • Largest 2 bladed turbine: Mingyang Wind Power in 2013. It is a SCD6.5MW offshore downwind turbine, designed by aerodyn Energiesysteme.
  • Most southerly: turbines currently operating closest to the South Pole are three Enercon E-33 in Antarctica, powering New Zealand’s Scott Base and the United States’ McMurdo Station since December 2009, although a modified HR3 turbine from Northern Power Systems operated at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in 1997 and 1998. In March 2010 CITEDEF designed, built and installed a wind turbine in Argentine Marambio Base.
  • Most productive: Four turbines at Rønland wind farm in Denmark share the record for the most productive wind turbines, with each having generated 63.2 GWh by June 2010.
  • Highest-situated: Since 2013 the world’s highest-situated wind turbine is made by United Windpower China Guodian Corporation installed by the Longyuan Power and located in the Naqu country, Tibet (China) around 4,800 meters (15,700 ft) above sea level. The site use a 1500 kW wind turbine designed by aerodyn Energiesysteme.
  • Largest floating wind turbine: The world’s largest—and also the first operational deep-water large-capacity—floating wind turbine is the 2.3 MW Hywind currently operating 10 km (6.2 mi) offshore in 220-meter-deep water, southwest of Karmøy, Norway. The turbine began operating in September 2009 and utilises a Siemens 2.3 MW turbine.
Small Wind Turbine Technology 2017-07-12T08:42:15+00:00
Small wind turbines (SWT) are electric generators that utilise wind energy to produce clean, emission-free power for individual homes, farms, and small businesses. SWTs are usually divided into two main areas of application that can be summarised as:

Stand Alone
These installations are defined by working independently from larger electrical systems. Other terms used include “autonomous” and “off grid”. Such a system will harvest renewable energy, through the wind turbine, and store that energy in a battery system. The battery can supply direct current loads and the addition of an inverter will allow the connection of alternating current loads. The largest volume application is in the telecommunication industry with smaller volumes in rural electrification including schools, clinics and agriculture. Water delivery powered from wind is a particular stand alone application that is best achieved without a battery or inverter.

These installations are defined by contributing energy to a larger distribution network. A private organisation that supplies energy in this way becomes an IPP (Independent Power Producer) The system consists of a wind turbine that supplies energy to a grid connected inverter. For small systems, legislation requires that the inverter auto-disconnects from a grid supply that has failed. Alternative systems that include a battery system do exist where the local energy supply continues during any grid power failure. The main purpose of a grid-connected system is to reduce the energy consumed from the utility mains supply. The turbine connection is made on the consumer side of the utility meter so the building is preferentially supplied by wind power with any shortfall being supplied by the utility. The turbine will also feed into the utility grid when the building energy demand is low. The result of this two way energy flow between the turbine and the grid results in a net reduction in the electricity bill.


  • The wind is free and with modern technology it can be captured efficiently.
  • Although wind turbines can be very tall each takes up only a small plot of land. This means that the land below can still be used. This is especially the case in agricultural areas as farming can still continue.
  • The electricity produced can be used to charge the batteries and store it.

  • The strength of the wind is not constant and it varies from zero to storm force. This means that wind turbines do not produce the same amount of electricity all the time. There will be times when they produce no electricity at all.
  • Wind turbines can be considered noisy by some
Ocean thermal technology 2017-07-12T08:06:32+00:00

1. Ocean thermal energy conversion, or OTEC, uses ocean temperature differences from the surface to depths lower than 1,000 meters, to extract energy. A temperature difference of only 20°C (36°F) can yield usable energy.
2. There are two types of OTEC technologies to extract thermal energy and convert it to electric power: closed cycle and open cycle. In the closed cycle method, a working fluid, such as ammonia, is pumped through a heat exchanger and vaporized. This vaporized steam runs a turbine. The cold water found at the depths of the ocean condenses the vapor back to a fluid where it returns to the heat exchanger. In the open cycle system, the warm surface water is pressurized in a vacuum chamber and converted to steam to run the turbine. The steam is then condensed using cold ocean water from lower depths .
3. Advantages of OTEC :
• Generates electricity with no greenhouse emissions.
• Totally renewable energy.
• Works day and night with only routine pump maintenance and little ongoing costs.
• Open system version produces desalinated water as well.
• Unlimited source of free energy especially in tropical waters.
4. Disadvantages of OTEC:
• Needs a large difference in temperatures (surface and deep) for best results.
• Needs to be close to the national grid.
• Needs a constant supply of warm and cold water, so only suitable for tropical locations.
• Plant needs safe location from storms and surf.
5. OTEC power plants can produce electricity 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

Solar Water Heating 2017-07-12T07:24:28+00:00

How does this technology work?
Solar Water Heating (SWH) systems use free heat from the sun to warm domestic hot water through solar panels, called collectors, fitted to a roof. The collected heat from the sun is used to heat up water which is stored in a cylinder/tank. A boiler or immersion heater can be used as back up to heat the water further to reach the desired temperature. There are two types of SWH panels:
• Evacuated tube
• Flat plate collectors

Advantages and Disadvantages
The systems works all year round, although there is a possibility that during the winter months more heating from an auxilary sorce may be required. SWH systems are considered to be a green, renewable heating technology that can also reduce CO2 emissions.

Is South Africa suited for and using SWH technology ?
SA is already using this technology on many domestic and business buildings, additionally, the Department of Energy (2009) rolled out an initiative to install 1 million SWH systems for domestic use by 2014. This has been expanded to roll out over 5 million SWH by 2030.

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) & Concentrating PV Technology 2017-07-12T07:14:19+00:00
What does this technology do?
PV technology captures the sun’s energy using photvoltaics. Photons of light excite electrons into a higher state of energy, allowing them to act as charge carriers for an electric current. Thus, PV is a means of generating electrical power by converting sunlight into direct current electricity using semiconductors that exhibit a photovoltaic effect. These cells don’t need direct sunlight to work they can still generate some electricity on a cloudy day. For a continuous supply of electric power, especially for on-grid connections, Photovoltaic panels require not only Inverters but also storage batteries.
How does PV technology work?
Solar There are 3 different commercially employed types of solar PV modules:
1. Monocrystalline modules are made from a single layer of Silicon crystal. This crystal is cut into wafers roughly 0.2mm thick before these wafers are chemically treated and electrical contacts added. The fact that they are cut from a single crystal means that they are highly efficient, with modules in production converting up to 15% of the energy from the sun into electricity, and test models over 20%.
2. Poly/multicrystalline modules are made from cells containing lots of small Silicon crystals. This makes them cheaper to produce but also slightly less efficient than monocrystalline modules. The many small crystals give polycrystalline modules a frosted look.

3. Thin film PV
 material is not as fragile as silicon crystals, the thin film can be printed onto a flexible substrate and can be protected by a flexible transparent layer. These solar modules are manufactured by depositing one or more thin layers of PV material on to a substrate (glass, flexible plastic or metal). Actual methods used to deposit the PV material vary according to the substrate used, but in some cases may be sprayed or printed on. The finished product, as well as being flexible, is much lighter than silicon crystal cells encased in glass, reducing shipping and mounting costs. A further advantage of not being encased in glass results from a reduced greenhouse effect and a lower cell temperature leading to increased efficiency at higher ambient temperatures. Where the thin film is applied to glass, this can be used for windows, providing shading and electrical power.
What is CPV and how does it work?
Concentrated PV is a technology that functions on same principals as PV, however it uses optics such as lenses or curved mirrors to concentrate a large amount of sunlight onto a small area of expensive high-efficiency tandem solar PV cells to generate electricity. In order to focus sunlight on the small PV cell area, CPV systems require concentrating optics (lenses or mirrors) and sometimes solar trackers, and cooling systems.
  • PV panels provide clean, green energy. During electricity generation with PV panels there is no harmful greenhouse gas emissions thus solar PV is considered to be environmentally friendly.
  • PV panels are totally silent, producing no noise at all; consequently, they are a perfect solution for urban areas and for residential applications.
  • Solar energy panels require additional equipment (inverters) to convert direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) electricity in order to be used on the power network.
  • Solar panel efficiency levels are relatively low (between 14%-25%) compared with the efficiency levels of other renewable energy systems.
  • Solar PV cells only produce electricity when the sun is shining.
Is South Africa suited for and using PV technology ?
South Africa has an excellent solar resource so solar produced power is climatically very well suited for the country. Several projects for PV installations have been awarded in SA renewable energy bidding windows (REIPPP programme) and will be used to feed power into the national electricity grid. Studies have shown that SA could make valuable contributions in the innovation and development of thin film, tracking, and CPV technologies
Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) Technology 2017-07-12T07:10:45+00:00
What does this technology do and how does it do this?
CSP is a technology that produces electricity by concentrating solar energy on a single focal point. This concentrated energy is then used to heat up a fluid, form steam and drive turbines to produce electricity.
There are four different types of well known CSP technologies:
1. Power Tower Systems – these installations use large, flat mirrors (heliostats) to reflect sunlight on to a collector located at the top of a tower. These mirrors are each constantly adjusted, as the sun moves, to focus sunlight towards the central receiver. The solar energy is then captured by a heat-carrying fluid which is used to produce high-pressure steam to turn a turbine and generate electricity.
2. Linear Fresnel Systems – these systems use individual axis flat mirrors to reflect and focus sunlight onto a receiver tube strategically placed above them. The fluid in the receiver tube is thus heated by the concentrated sunlight and produces steam to drive a turbine and generate electricity.
3. Trough Systems – these systems use an individual axis curved mirror to reflect and focus sunlight onto a receiver tube strategically placed above them. The fluid in the receiver tube is thus heated by the concentrated sunlight and produces steam to drive a turbine and generate electricity.
4. Stirling Dish/Engine Systems – these stand-alone systems consist of a large parabolic dish, having a reflective surface that concentrates solar energy to a focal point mounted above the dish. The entire unit is constantly adjusted to directly face the sun. A heat collector and engine is mounted at the focal point and used to create electricity.
Advantages and Disadvantages
CSP instalations have the distinct advantage of being able to store energy in the form of heat, if they are built with this capacity.  This means that even during peak electricity demand at night they can be used to produce electricity – some installations have 15 hours or more of storage available.  CSP plants can be placed in hot, dry inhospitable locations thus not disturbing urban infrastructure. However, these units are most efficient during the daylight hours and should not be relied upon as primary electrical sources to produce baseload power. Even the systems that use long-term heat storage techniques may reduce their level of electricity production if it’s overcast for a number of days.
Does CSP need supporting technology?
CSP energy needs to be stored either as heat, in a liquid medium such as water/steam, oil or salt, or as electricity in batteries.
Is South Africa suited for and using CSP technology ?
SA has one of the best solar regimes in the world and the CSP technology is suited very well to harnessing this energy. Several CSP installations were awarded over the SA renewable energy bidding windows (REIPPP programme) and there are also demonstration plants built at Eskom Rosherville and Stellenbosch University. Studies have shown that SA could make valuable contributions in the innovation and development of receiver absorption material, heliostat design and heat transfer fluids (click here for study document).

South African Energy Mix

COAL 80%

Energy Programme

IEA Bioenergy Tasks 2017-07-12T09:12:50+00:00
IEA Bioenergy operates within the IEA energy technology and R&D collaboration programme. This programme facilitates co-operation among IEA Member and non-Member countries to develop new and improved energy technologies and introduce them into the market. Activities are set up under Implementing Agreements which provide the legal mechanisms for establishing the commitments of the Contracting Parties and the management structure to guide the activity. Contracting Parties can be government organisations or private entities designated by their governments. Non-IEA Member countries, or their designated entities, can become Contracting Parties.

The work of IEA Bioenergy is structured in a number of Tasks, which have well defined objectives, budgets, and time frames. The collaboration which earlier was focused on Research, Development and Demonstration is now increasingly also emphasising Deployment on a large-scale and worldwide. Each participating country pays a modest financial contribution toward administrative requirements, shares the costs of managing the Tasks and provides in-kind contributions to fund participation of national personnel in the Tasks. The scope of the work undertaken within IEA Bioenergy is shown in the graphic.

IEA Bioenergy Tasks: Each Task is led by one of the participating countries (Operating Agent) with technical effort co-ordinated by a Task Leader. The work is directed by the Executive Committee. For the period 2013-2015, there are 10 Tasks. All of the Tasks have a common duration of three years.

How to find out more: IEA Bioenergy is keen to promote its work programmes within participating countries and to encourage increasing involvement of industrial partners. It also wishes to encourage further interest in its work from non-participating countries. All OECD countries are eligible to apply. In addition, the IEA Governing Board has decided that the Implementing Agreements may also be open to non-member countries. If you are interested in finding out more about IEA Bioenergy, please contact the Executive Committee Secretary.
IEA overview 2017-07-12T09:11:55+00:00
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is an autonomous organisation which works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 29 member countries and beyond. Founded in response to the 1973/4 oil crisis, the IEA’s initial role was to help countries co-ordinate a collective response to major disruptions in oil supply through the release of emergency oil stocks to the markets. While this continues to be a key aspect of its work, the IEA has evolved and expanded. It is at the heart of global dialogue on energy, providing authoritative statistics, analysis and recommendations. Today, the IEA’s four main areas of focus are:
  1. Energy security: Promoting diversity, efficiency and flexibility within all energy sectors;
  2. Economic development: Ensuring the stable supply of energy to IEA member countries and promoting free markets to foster economic growth and eliminate energy poverty;
  3. Environmental awareness: Enhancing international knowledge of options for tackling climate change; and
  4. Engagement worldwide: Working closely with non-member countries, especially major producers and consumers, to find solutions to shared energy and environmental concerns.
Waste to Energy Platform (W2EP) 2017-07-12T11:55:51+00:00
Algal BioEnergy Platform (ABP) 2017-07-12T09:08:42+00:00
IEA BioEnergy Task 2017-07-12T09:08:01+00:00
Ocean Energy Resource Mapping 2017-07-12T08:12:58+00:00
Marine Energy Association of South Africa (MEASA) 2017-07-12T08:11:32+00:00
IEA Ocean Energy Systems Task 2017-07-12T08:08:19+00:00
Solar DNI Measurement Project 2017-07-12T08:02:38+00:00
SANEDI/RECORD is supporting the Renewable Energy Industry with the establishment of DNI solar measurement stations in South Africa.

Accurate decision-making for the deployment of solar energy projects is about to receive a boost with the launch of a unique project, set to fund eight high accuracy Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI) solar measurement stations in South Africa. The project, funded jointly by the Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and  the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and implemented by the University of Stellenbosch, who will carry out solar measurements over a 12-month period at eight new solar measurement stations, then update an existing solar DNI map with the collected data, as well as other data that is available in the public domain, and ensure the publication of the map and measured data in the public domain.

The project addresses the general lack of high quality, ground measured solar data – especially data that is in the public domain because existing measurement stations usually collect Global Horizontal Irradiance (GHI) and sometimes also diffuse measurements, since this measuring equipment is more affordable and easier to maintain than equipment measuring DNI data. Although GHI and Diffuse measurements are important, it is DNI data that is sought after. DNI is the amount of solar radiation received per unit area by a surface that is always held perpendicular (or normal) to the rays that come in a straight line from the direction of the sun at its current position in the sky. DNI excludes the Diffuse component and only the direct (or beam) component. This quantity is of particular interest to concentrating solar thermal installations (since only the direct component of solar irradiance can be reflected or concentrated) and installations that track the position of the sun.

In South Africa there are currently only four DNI measurement stations at three locations with data in the public domain. Other entities such as the South African Weather Service, Eskom and private renewable energy project developers also operate solar measurement stations but these stations are either in a limited state of functionality, record mostly GHI data or most importantly, do not place their data in the public domain. However, with the advent of this partnership, Eskom has released some data to this project as well. Dispite this, there is a need to install, maintain and monitor high quality solar resource measurement stations to obtain ground-based measurements that may be compared with satellite derived data. The availability of these measurements will improve the accuracy of the currently available satellite derived data sets, with the overall objective, of course, being to increase the use of solar energy in South Africa stimulated by the availability of reliable solar data.

The project is supported in the framework of the South African German Energy Programme (SAGEN), implemented by GIZ. GIZ acknowledges that there a number of important public and private sector stakeholders that will be included in the implementation of the project viz. DST, SANEDI, SAWS, Eskom, with the aim to avoid duplication and attempt to have more measured data in the public domain.
Solar Medium to High Temperature Applications 2017-07-12T08:01:27+00:00

SANEDI/RECORD has an interest in solar medium to high temperature applications.  To this end numerous consultations and stakeholder engagements have been held and are ongoing, examining possible applications of technologies and the benefits thereof to South Africa in the medium to long term. Below is a “fact sheet” outlining what areas could be considered moving forward.

What is the opportunity?

  • South Africa has abundant solar resources
  • South Africa is dependent on fossil based energy sources
  • South Africa has committed to specific emission targets
  • South Africa is implementing a carbon tax in 2015
  • South Africa is exploring the solar opportunity through the SETRM process
  • While renewables are being introduced to make a low-carbon/no-carbon contribution to the electricity grid through the REIPPPP, no similar incentives exist for low-carbon/no-carbon liquid fuels, which contribute equivalently to the emission burden
  • The International Energy Agency SolarPACES Implementing Agreement has targeted South Africa and Australia specifically for Solar Fuels introduction into the market, and has set aside a budget to assist
  • South Africa spends 75% of its entire energy spend on liquid fuels balance of payments to foreign suppliers
  • South Africa can become a world leader on high temperature solar applications

What is the potential solution?

  • Use of heat from concentrating solar to drive endothermic reactions in industrial and petrochemical processes, avoiding the combustion of fossil feedstocks to drive these reactions: steam reforming of methane; dry (CO2) reforming of methane; steam gasification of carbonaceous solid feedstocks
  • Temporary sequestering of CO2 in dry reforming of methane to produce synthesis gas to make aviation fuel by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis
  • Water splitting through solar high temperature steam electrolysis and solar thermochemical cycles

What is the global state of the art?

  • Solar steam reforming of methane has been demonstrated at: 200kW level in a tubular reactor, 400kW level in a volumetric reactor
  • Solar steam gasification of carbonaceous solid feedstocks has been performed at: 500kW level for petroleum coke, 1MW level for biomass, 200kW level for – low rank coal, industrial sludge, sewage sludge, tyre chips
  • Solar dry reforming of methane has been performed. Level is unknown, but unlikely to be above 10kW

What makes South Africa’s situation different to the global examples?

  • Excellent solar resource: Gauteng equivalent to Spain (2,000kWh/m2/year), Northern Cape (2,800kWh/m2/year) rivalled only by Chile
  • Significant water stress: water availability is poor in good solar regions
  • South Africa has significant CO2 emissions
  • Potential carbon tax incentivises low-carbon approaches
  • Eskom already considering carbon capture approaches
  • Potential development of Shale Gas resources

What local knowledge gives South Africa advantage?

  • Fischer-Tropsch competence in industry (Sasol, PetroSA) and universities (Wits, UNW)
  • Competence in coal chemistry and gasification (NWU, WITS, CSIR)
  • Integration of high temperature heat sources into chemical processes
  • High temperature materials
  • Simulation and modelling expertise
  • Existing CSP knowledge

What is required to achieve this?

  • Feasibility studies to determine local potential and priorities, economic viability and potential for leap frogging through collaboration for:
  • Solar fuels – re-using CO2 to make aviation fuel
  • Solar calcination of CaCO3 to CaO for cement industry
  • Solar melting of aluminium
  • Solar water splitting to generate hydrogen (Integrate with HySA)
  • Solar gasification of coal
  • Feasibility study to define requirements for experimental facilities: lab-scale testing requires 10 kW solar furnace or 10 kW solar simulator (arc-xenon lamps), 100 kW testing requires heliostat field and tower facility
  • Development of detailed transient modelling capability: chemistry, heat transfer, thermohydraulics, optics/radiative transfer
  • SolarPACES Solar Fuels Road Mapping assistance

What is the benefit for government?

  • S&T resource development
  • Potential export products in high temperature solar application production facilities
  • Job creation
  • Optimum usage of fossil resources combined with solar
  • RSA positioned as a solar RD&I destination
  • Achievements of COPXX commitments

Potential for innovation/technology development

  • Catalyst development (probably Rhodium – PGM-based) for methane reforming
  • Thermal storage integration into solar chemistry process
  • Chemical receiver development
  • Solar regeneration of amine from CO2 capture & CO2 management
  • Solar aluminium rotary kiln
PV Testing Lab NMMU 2017-07-12T07:50:40+00:00
The Centre for Energy Research (CER) based at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) is currently funded by RECORD, in partnership with the German International Co-operation Agency (GIZ), for project specific capital equipment and operational expenses. This renewable energy project is aimed at research and development in two main focal areas:

  1. Novel characterisation of photovoltaic (PV) materials, cell and modules, understanding their failure and means to mitigate failure or improve solar energy capture
  2. Energy yield studies in monitoring performance and analysis of selected experimental PV modules
CER established at NMMU has been involved in renewable energy research for many years, it focuses on providing technology support specifically in the following areas:

  1. Testing and verification of component specifications (e.g. PV module or solar thermal systems)
  2. Development of testing techniques
  3. Product development – prototype development and testing
  4. Skills development

While  CER is supporting a number of industries in the Eastern Cape region and nationally, it also plays a role in creating awareness and developing human capacity to support industry in the long term. In addition to PV cell, module and system characterisation,  CER has worked on concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) technology development and energy storage. Through their experience in PV cell, module and system characterisation, CPV technology, and system integration, CER is well placed to conduct the proposed project and develop human capital in this sector.

The Project
There are two focal areas to the project funded by RECORD and GIZ:

  1. Photovoltaic (PV) characterization
  2. Energy Yield and Performance Monitoring

Each focus area contains components of technical activity, capital equipment installation and testing and human capacity development, both areas share the same equipment and overall goals.

PV materials, device, module and systems characterisation
Developing characterisation techniques is particularly important in understanding a technology and, in this case, contributing to the PV technology knowledge-base in South Africa, since this technology will be rolled out at high levels in the country. The research includes:

  • a better understanding of performance limiting degradation and failure modes in PV devices
  • causes of premature failure in PV cells, complete modules and systems
  • root causes of non-functioning areas in newly manufactured PV cell material
  • effects of various types of cell damage, be it before or after long-term outdoor exposure, on the degradation rate and failure of PV cells and modules
  • determination of the natural long-term degradation rate of normally functioning PV modules

These research activities have two main goals that will help to drive the PV industry forward:

  • adding to the existing knowledge base in PV devices
  • training of students to become future PV experts that may enter the PV industry or will continue with the development of new improved technologies

The scope of the research includes the following standard and non-standard characterisation techniques:

  • Current-voltage (I-V) characterization (indoor and outdoor).
  • Device parameter extraction.
  • Spatial imaging techniques: Electroluminescence (EL), Photoluminescence (PL) and infrared (IR) thermography,
  • Various Light Beam Induced Current (LBIC) measurement systems: High Resolution (HRLBIC), Large Area (LA-LBIC), Solar (S-LBIC) systems incorporating point-by-point I-V, spectral and Raman spectroscopy.
  • Systems characterization: Solar Home Systems for remote and rural applications, off-grid kW-scale systems and grid-integrated systems.

PV technology energy yield studies
The South African renewable energy industry, through the Renewable Energy Power Procurement Programme (REBID) of the Department of Energy, has pledged construction of several large utility-scale PV installations nationally. To support this industry and develop South African expertise, a sound knowledge base is required. In addition to human capital development associated with the characterisation related portion of this project, further expertise in PV technology energy yield on gridintegrated PV systems is needed. The emphasis of this research is the measurement and modelling of energy yield from PV systems comprising different solar cell technologies. These systems are installed at various locations representative of different climatic regimes in South Africa. All PV systems are monitored, and appropriate meteorological and performance data collected. From this data actual energy yield is determined and correlated with modelled energy yield. This adds value to the knowledge base by answering questions relating to the energy yield of different PV technologies, viz.:

  • suitability of different PV technologies for different environmental conditions
  • operational and environmental limitations of different PV technologies
  • total energy yield range from different PV technology types
  • total cost of energy production over the lifetime of these different technology types

The main goals of this research focus are to:
• add to the existing knowledge base by verifying energy yield from different PV technologies under different environmental and solar radiation regimes
• determine the suitability of different PV technologies for deployment in different environmental and solar radiation regimes
The parameters listed below are monitored and analysed throughout the duration of this project, and data is collated:

  • voltage of PV array
  • AC current and voltage injected into the utility grid
  • Plane-of-array irradiance
  • Back-of-module temperature
  • Ambient temperature and other meteorological parameters

This research will add to the PV knowledge base in South Africa and energy yield data will be useful for utility-scale PV system integrators.

Concept for a Centre for Solar Technology, Development and Innovation (CSTDI) 2017-07-12T07:39:09+00:00
Since the inception and eventual development and launch, RECORD has been working towards the concept of developing a centre where solar energy technology and expertise can develop skills, test technologies, conduct research and innovation.  As a result of government’s progresive programme to implement renewable energy in South Africa, there is renewed interest in this sector as part of diversifying the energy mix in the country. This is evidenced by current renewable energy targets in the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) of 2010, the draft IRP of 2014, the feasibility study for the Solar Park project and the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme. In South Africa, there are a number of commercial-scale solar power projects currently, ranging from PV to CSP. South Africa has an opportunity to not only lead in harnessing of the solar resource, but also to be a leader in development of new solar technologies. One way to turn the solar natural resource into economic leadership is to position South Africa as a technology leader. To achieve this, a Centre for Solar Technology Development and Innovation (CSTDI) was proposed. This centre would test and pilot solar technologies, co-ordinate solar technology development, demonstration and innovation activities of South African higher education institutions. RECORD has been working towards the goals outlined below and is currently making strides as one of a consortium (some of which it was instrumental in bringing together) towards a collaborative approach to make a solar centre of excellence a reality.

Pre-feasibility Rationale
Prior to commitment of resources (personnel, equipment, etc) for the CSTDI, it is important that a pre-feasibility study and evaluation be done in order to identify possible needs for the concept of this solar centre and fully understand the value being proposed.
The objectives of the pre-feasibility study were to understand the following:
  • Stakeholder expectations/needs;
  • Viability of establishing the proposed centre;
  • Potential technology innovation opportunities;
  • Potential human capacity development opportunity;
  • Possible business case for the centre;
  • Possible capital and operational costs of the centre
  • Possible operational Plan for the centre

Originally proposed phases
Phase 0: Concretising concept, initial costing and preparatory work concluded
Phase 1: Technology development through special calls
  • Funding will be provided through a call for proposals from consortiums which can focus on specific technical developments
  • Support existing initiatives
Phase 2: Proof of concept
  • Mini plant built
Phase 3: Fully fledged centre
  • Linked to the solar park initiative

Pre-feasibility Study Plan
The planned approach to this prefesibility was first, to develop a concept document including a project and business plan. This was achieved in early 2012 in collaboration with the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The steps that followed were designed to assess the feasibility of creating such a centre in South Africa and the best way in which to implement such. These included a visit to similar international centres and engagement with international stakeholders and possible collaborative parties. This was to gain understanding of what the CSTDI would be able to achieve and how it could be implemented.

The expected output from this study was a fact based assessment of the value proposition for the centre. After extensive local and international discussions regarding the CSTDI and the internationaal tour of such facilities, the following conclusions were reached:
  1. The financial implications of building the CSTDI as a single facility where all solar research, development, innovation and some training could be done far exceed the resources that could be made available to realise the concept. This financing would have to come directly from government and is not currently in the budget.
  2. Site selection for the CSTDI would be problematic, since it would have to be taken into account that the best solar resource, in the Northern Cape, is far removed from already established institutes with start up expertise and infrasturcure. This would require much in put into: Purchasing and and constructing buildings; Purchasing or building relevant equipment; Attracting the best expertise to move to the area where the centre would be built; Attracting and enabling research and support staff and students/trainees; Accomodation and ammenities for said persons
  3. Given the above hinderences, institutes that already have solar expertise and equipment would probably not deem it financially viable to move to the CSTDI. Thus leading to much duplication and lack of coordiation in the solar research development and innovation sector for South Africa could result.

After careful consideration it is recommended that since South Africa already has pockets of excellence in solar energy at various insitutes, why not adopt a decentralised approach to the CSTDI concept? Each institute that specialises a particular area of expertise could be considered to be a node of the CSTDI. This could be kick started by exploring the past renewable energy hub and spoke model, now coordinated by the National Research Foundation (NRF). Thus, for example, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) that formed the photovoltaic (PV) spoke could become a PV node to the CSTDI; the Universiy of Stellenbosch could become one of the concentrated solar power (CSP) nodes in partnership with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). This would also allow for a more sustainable funding model for the CSTDI that would not require massive government financial support.

Many of these possible nodes already have training, equipment and experts in place. The CSTDI would be able to boost each node individually according to its technology needs. It would also possibly be easier to attain comparitively small amounts for funding to achieve this, rather than spending money to build a centre that, in some cases, would duplicate work already being done.

To some end the CSTDI noded model has already begun to naturally form though solar research and development coordination. The CSIR and Stellenbosch university have drafted an agreement that allows them to dovetails their CSP research and work together towards innovation and devlopment in this area. The NMMU has been awarded a project that substatially boosts their capacity to work with PV yeild and cell effect under South African conditions. In conclusion, although there has not yet been a full feasibility study for the CSTDI noded approach, the concept seems to be naturally evolving to the best advantage.
Solar Energy Technology Roadmap (SETRM) 2017-07-12T07:37:21+00:00

SANEDI, specifically the Clean Energy Solutions Programme (including RECORD) team,  and its GIZ partner have been involved in the core and full project steering committees of this initiave from project outset. This project aims at developing the Solar industry to 2050 – “South Africa has the potential to be a centre of excellence of solar development and utilisation,” says Michael Sudarkasa project manager of the Solar Energy Technology Roadmap (SETRM). The purpose of the SETRM is to assist in realising this potential by developing a long term solar sector strategy to 2050 explains Sudarkasa.

There are a number of issues driving the need to develop the solar industry in South Africa says Sudarkasa. In particular, development of the solar sector can help to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions associated with energy production and at the same time contribute to longer term energy security. The sector also has the potential to contribute to the creation of Green Jobs. In addition since Solar Photovoltaic and Solar Water heating applications can be rolled out to households independently of the grid, solar technologies can be used to reduce demand on the grid in cities. These applications can also contribute to meeting rural energy needs where many households are not grid connected.

SETRM has recently completed a draft Road Map that focusses on four specific areas:
  1. Concentrated Solar Power (CSP)
  2. Solar Photovoltaic (PV)
  3. Solar Thermal (heating and cooling)
  4. Research and Development into Hybrid Technologies and Solar Fuels
The draft Road Map currently estimates that 40GW of Solar Photovoltaic and Concentrated Solar Power can be developed by 2050 in South Africa. During the same time period it estimates that an additional 4GW of Solar Water Heating can be installed in South Africa.

SETRM convened a Solar Week during October 2013, hosted by DST and SANEDI/RECORD, to consult with key stakeholders regarding the content of the draft Road Map. Over the following months the Road Map was refined based on stakeholder input and aligned with the Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) that is currently being developed by the Department of Energy. During 2014 SETRM expects to finalise the Road Map and then undertake a road show to introduce the plan to key stakeholders says Sudarkasa.

SETRM is an initiative of the Department of Energy, of which SANEDI is an implementing agency, and the Department of Science and Technology. Technical support for the project has been provided by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and funding support has been provided by the German development agency (GIZ), through the South African – German Energy Program (SAGEN). In order to develop the Road Map, SETRM has involved a wide range of industry stakeholders in the drafting process.

More information is available on the SETRM Website here and interested stakeholders can also sign up for regular updates on the initiative.