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updated 6:54 AM SAST, Mar 14, 2031
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Researchers suggest 100% renewable energy system is plausible

A multinational group of researchers have co-authored a paper to demonstrate that there are no roadblocks to sourcing 100% of a country’s power supply from renewable sources.

The researchers, from Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of TechnologySouth Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Finland’s Lappeenranta University of Technology, the Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology and Denmark’s Aalborg University, authored a response to the 2017 review paper by University of Adelaide researcher Benjamin Heard and his colleagues. 

They questioned the feasibility of many of the recent scenarios for high shares of renewable energy, questioning everything from whether renewables-based systems can survive extreme weather events with low sun and low wind, to the ability to keep the grid stable with so much variable generation. 

“While several of the issues raised by the Heard paper are important, there are technical solutions to all the points they raised, using today’s technology,” stated the lead author of the response paper, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology’s Dr Thomas Brown.

“Furthermore, these solutions are absolutely affordable, especially given the sinking costs of wind and solarpower,” said Lappeenranta University's Professor Christian Breyer.

Co-author, and now former CSIR employee, Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz, added, “It’s beyond any scientific doubt that a renewables-led energy system is technically feasible, and recent technology cost developments for solar and wind have now made it economically viable too.”

Brown cites the worst-case solution of hydrogen or synthetic gas produced with renewable electricity, for times when imports, hydroelectricity, batteries and other storage fail to bridge the gap during low wind and solar periods during dark European winters.

Luckily, this is a problem that South Africa with very little seasonality in solar supply does not need to worry about too much. 

More importantly, the stability of the grid poses specific challenges in South Africa with existing low levels of interconnectivity with neighbours. To maintain stability, there are a series of technical solutions, from rotating grid stabilisers to newer electronics-based solutions.

The scientists have collected examples of best practice by grid operators from across the world, from Denmark to Tasmania.

The response by the scientists has now appeared in the same journal as the original article published by Heard and his colleagues.

“There are some persistent myths that 100% renewable systems are not possible,” says Aalborg University's Professor Brian Vad Mathiesen. “Our contribution deals with these myths one-by-one, using all the latest research.”

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R3bn Rosslyn Hub to create 160 000 jobs

The R3-billion mixed-use Rosslyn Hub development was launched at the African Smart Cities Summit, co-located with the African Construction and Totally Concrete Expo, at the Gallagher Convention Centre, in Johannesburg, on Wednesday.

The Rosslyn Hub is a crucial step towards the creation of the Tshwane Auto City (TAC), a collaboration between government and the automotive industry to transform the area into the leading automotive investment destination in Africa.

Big Cedar Properties MD and Rosslyn Hub director Brendan Falkson noted that it is envisioned that Rosslyn, which is already home to four automotive manufacturers – BMW, NissanIveco and Tata – along with an array of automotive suppliers, will emulate well-established automotive cities like those in SpainChinaGermany and Japan.

The 7,157-ha hub will include 1 200 houses and 250 rental apartments; a hospital and clinic; a hotel and conference centre; and pre-primary and high schools, as well as a university with student housing. It will also include two shopping centres and a filling station, town centre, waterfront development and a race track.

In addition to the automotive plants already established in Rosslyn, the hub will comprise a development logistics park and vehicle distribution centre, a truck staging area and truck stop, motor showrooms, a motor retail area and an outdoor automotive pavilion.

The hub will benefit from its proximity to existing transportinfrastructure, including access to the Capital Park Raillogistics hub.  

The Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC), which is mandated to support the automotive industry in becoming globally competitive, developed the TAC concept and, as an implementing agency of government, is the project manager for the hub's development.

AIDC CEO Dr David Masondo noted that the idea is to leverage the largest concentration of automotive original-equipment manufacturers and component manufacturers in Africa to establish a place where their employees can live, work and entertain themselves within the same precinct.

Masondo explained that the TAC aligns with the AutomotiveSector Vision 2020, which aims to produce 1.2-million vehicles and deepen the manufacturing base by stimulating investment and increasing local content. Falkson added that the project is expected to create 160 000 jobs.

Masondo said the TAC  will be the fourth automotive city globally, and the first in Africa. Global investment interest for the development project is high.

In addition to the AIDC, the Tshwane Economic Development Agency, City of Tshwane, the Gauteng province and the Gauteng Growth Development Agency have partnered with private sector companies to realise this project.

The hub development team has identified eight focus areas including logistics and freight to assist in the export of the goods produced in the hub; research and development; and the establishment of a green and sustainableautomotive city. Most of the developments will have north facing roofs with sufficient load capacity to enable solar installations.

Falkson noted that construction of the K217 road, which runs from north to south between Soshanguve and the N4 highway, will enable greater access into Rosslyn and unlock additional investment opportunities.

“Between 2008 and 2018 around R12-billion has been invested into the Rosslyn area. Following the launch of the hub, we anticipate a 400% increase in investment in the next decade,” said Masondo. 

  • Published in News

Ethiopia probes killing of Dangote Cement country manager

Ethiopian authorities are investigating the murder of the country manager of Dangote Cement Plc and two other staff members.

Unidentified gunmen shot dead Deep Kamra, his secretary and his driver on Wednesday, Tariku Alemayehu, deputy manager for sales and marketing in Ethiopia, said by phone from the capital, Addis Ababa. The killings took place in broad daylight near Dangote’s factory in Mugher, about 90 km north of Addis Ababa, Group Executive Director Edwin Devakumar said by email from Lagos, where Dangote’s head office is based.

The assailants forced the driver to lose control by throwing a concrete block at the vehicle the three people were traveling in, before opening fire on the occupants, Devakumar said.

“Mr. Kamra tried to get out and escape,” he said. “They shot him in the leg. When he slumped into the jeep, they went near and shot him multiple times. Then they shot the driver and the secretary -- also, each of them, multiple times. It was simply a massacre.”

Security forces are working to apprehend the suspects, according to a statement read on state-owned ETV.

Dangote is Africa’s biggest cement producer, with operations in 10 countries. Mugher is in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, which has been hit by sporadic anti-government protests over the past three years and where the company has faced opposition to how it sources raw materials.

Dangote Cement said last year it was considering shutting the plant unless authorities in Oromia reversed an order to cement makers to hand over control of pumice, sand, and clay mines to youth groups. The policy for the cement industry was in part overseen by Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, in his prior role as head of Oromia’s urban development and housing bureau as a means to ease youth unemployment and quell unrest.

Tariku said Dangote had come to an agreement last year for youth to supply pumice to the company each month “according to capacity.”

Kamra was an Indian national. The Indian Embassy in Addis Ababa said its providing all necessary assistance to repatriate his body.

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