Conference Paper

Learnable Lessons on Sustainability From the Provision of Electricity in South Africa

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Abstract

South Africa is a “canary in a coal mine” for the world’s upcoming ecological crises, especially regarding electrical energy provision for a developing modern society, because aspects of the South African situation may be repeated elsewhere when ecological limits constrain economic activity. We describe the South African context in terms of social issues and economic development policies, environmental issues, and the electrical energy situation in the country. We explore implications of the South African context for the provision of electrical energy in terms of development objectives, climate change, the electrical grid, water, and solar, wind, ocean, and hydro energy resources. Thereafter, we explore future directions for electrical energy provision in the country, including some important questions to be answered. Next, we offer a rational way forward, including an assessment favoring concentrated solar power (CSP) as a path of least resistance for decoupling South Africa’s energy use from upstream and downstream environmental impacts. We conclude with some learnable lessons from the South African context for the rest of the developing and developed world.

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Chapter
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Conference Paper
Full-text available
Investigations into demand side reductions have been encouraged by the utility in sectors with high electricity consumption, such as the cement industry. It is responsible for 5% of the electrical consumption for the mining and industrial division of the country. It has also been estimated that by 2020 this sector will be ranked fifth for energy savings potential. This paper investigates the potential of a load-shifting scheme to reduce evening peak loads and save electrical costs on a raw mill at a South African cement plant. A simulation was performed, which showed that six hours of load-shifting could be achieved, without adversely affecting production. This was corroborated by a pilot study where the load was successfully shifted for six hours over a week-long period. The specific raw mill would achieve a reduction in yearly electrical costs of 2% when employing this load-shifting strategy. The results however showed that cost-saving opportunities are highly dependent on the reliability of the mills and on the change in production demand. Therefore, load-shifting schemes have to be highly adaptable on a daily basis to shift load when possible.
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