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Service - Leadership in Government - Issue 77

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  • South africa
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September is a time of renewal. In this edition of Service, we look at what is about to be renewed, in the process of being renewed, and in need of renewal in South Africa.


S energy DR CLINTON CARTER-BROWN: HEAD OF THE CSIR ENERGY CENTRE Dr Carter-Brown has received worldwide acclaim for his work in energy systems, distribution electrical utility management, power system simulation, expansion planning, generation procurement and grid integration. As head of the technical unit in the South African Department of Energy Independent Power Producer Office, he oversaw the implementation of the internationally renowned Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REI4P), as well as the Baseload Coal, Cogeneration and Liquified Natural Gas-to-Power IPP programmes. Please share some achievements of the CSIR Energy Centre. With the growing role of energy storage in the South African energy system, we are developing an “Energy Storage Test Bed” to provide a testing and demonstration platform for new and emerging energy storage technologies. We will thereby support the growing local energy storage industry and market. This test bed is being developed with VITO (Belgium) and the first equipment is due to be installed in early 2022. We are doing development work in offshore wind to start to evaluate the potential that this resource offers South Africa. This is an exciting new area of opportunity. Several projects are underway looking at the prospects that green hydrogen presents South Africa, and the identification and support to initial projects. We are assisting the KfW (German development bank) in shortlisting high-potential green hydrogen projects to catalyse the local green hydrogen market.Furthermore, we are developing pilot-scale technologies in waste-heat recovery to assist the South African industry in the utilisation of waste-heat and thereby improve their competitiveness and reduce their environmental footprint. Our first pilot and demonstration technology are well progressed and due to be installed this year with an industry partner. How is the CSIR connected to the IRP? The CSIR has provided various comments on, and inputs to, the IRP processes with related formal submissions to NERSA and the DMRE. We have provided a range of perspectives to provide a science and fact/ evidence-based analysis of the future power system expansion options. Our analysis confirms that the least-regret lowest net-cost power system will see the coal-fired power stations decommissioned as they reach end-of-life and replaced with a mix of energy supply options including solar, wind and natural gas. Our technical analysis of the future supply options has been complemented with an economic analysis of the related impact on jobs. The studies show that the implementation of the IRP 2019 will see a reduction in coal-sector jobs as coal-fired power stations are decommissioned, but a net increase in jobs due to new positions created in the new-build sectors, predominately solar, wind and gas. This work is building on the CSIR research into the “Just Energy Transition” to ensure that the IRP is implemented in a manner that protects the communities that will be negatively impacted, and that the benefits in the job creation opportunities can be maximised. What are the long-term decarbonisation energy futures? The CSIR has assessed a range of energy generation scenarios for South Africa to provide an evidence-based view of long-term power system expansion options. This includes the analysis of accelerated decarbonisation scenarios to assess the options, costs and impacts of the decommissioning of ageing coal-fired power stations. The analysis confirms that South Africa is in a fortunate position to be able to transition to renewable energy sources as part of a least-cost power system. The cost increase due to accelerated transition is relatively low, as enabled by the considerable solar and wind resources in South Africa. Our analysis confirms that the future primary energy sources are expected to be solar and wind and complemented with energy storage and flexible energy supply and demand response. Fact and evidence-based Integrated Resource Planning. The electricity system will become the primary energy input to the transportation and heating sectors supporting the decarbonisation of the broader energy system. This will be achieved through the introduction of green hydrogen to decarbonise the “hard-to-abate” sectors and presents substantial export opportunity for South Africa to trade green hydrogen and green chemicals as produced using local renewable-based electricity. Please tell us about CSIR’s work in the deployment of embedded generation in distribution grids. We have been working closely with the GIZ [Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit] supporting local municipalities in the integration of embedded generation. This has included optimising their processes for the management of customer applications, and the technical criteria and analysis that are applied in assessing grid integration and compliance with related standards. As part of our work, we have developed a solar PV procurement guideline to assist municipalities in the approach, criteria and processes to procure their own PV installations. This work has built on the CSIR’s own experiences in the procurement, installation and operation of ground-mounted and rooftop solar PV installations on our Pretoria campus that have seen the CSIR reduce its energy costs and environmental footprint while also making a contribution to the supply of energy into the constrained power system. ■ 16 | Service magazine

energy S PAUL LOCHNER: ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT SERVICES GROUP LEADER Paul Lochner BSc (Civil Eng) MPhil (Env Science) is an environmental assessment practitioner at the CSIR. He has 29 years of experience in a wide range of environmental management studies: planning and assessment for renewable energy, electricity grid infrastructure, desalination, aquaculture, oil and gas, wetlands and coastal zone management, as well as industrial and port development. Lochner has been closely involved in the research and application of SEA in South Africa, in particular recent advances in SEA that have informed national legislative changes. What is the CSIR’s involvement with the REDZs? Over the past eight years, the CSIR has conducted SEAs to improve the effectiveness of environmental planning for national wind and solar PV development. These SEAs led to the 11 REDZs being legislated. The over-arching objective of the REDZs is to identify extensive areas that are best suited to responsible wind and solar development, and then to facilitate more efficient development in those areas. The CSIR’s role was to conduct a holistic assessment that incorporated a full range of relevant aspects, such as availability of wind and solar resources, environmental sensitivity, agricultural land-use, heritage and landscape features, socio-economic development need, grid connection, and technical and engineering suitability. These SEAs were conducted on behalf of DFFE and other departments and state-owned enterprises, such as Eskom. The CSIR undertook this work in collaboration with the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). For the REDZs to be effective, it is also essential that they are integrated with the national electricity grid planning. And the remaining capacity on the national grid is increasingly becoming a constraint to bringing new large-scale wind and solar PV projects online. Therefore, two SEAs were also conducted in parallel for the development of EGI. This led to seven EGI corridors being legislated. An objective of the EGI SEA was to identify areas where grid expansion should be prioritised to best support renewable energy development. The corridors are designed to accommodate a range of plausible energy scenarios in terms of supply and demand. When positioning the power corridors, Eskom had to consider optimising connectivity with the REDZs and the avoidance of sensitive environmental areas, such as important conservation and bird areas. These two SEAs are a unique approach to facilitating integrated energy planning in a way that promotes sustainable development, while seeking to eliminate inefficiencies in the development of key strategic infrastructure in South Africa. Please provide an overview of the SEAs. The purpose of the SEAs was to facilitate integrated energy planning in South Africa in a way that is based on best-available information, brings together key stakeholders in a transparent process, and improves the quality of decision-making by the relevant authorities. Each SEA was a very thorough process, conducted over two years, and included engagement with government authorities, state entities such as Eskom and Civil Aviation Authority, representatives of the wind and solar sectors, and NGOs such as Birdlife South Africa. We also conducted roadshows around the country to raise awareness about the study and source inputs from stakeholders. The SEAs were designed to ensure that the outcomes could be converted into legislation. We didn’t want the study to be a report that sits on the shelf. For the outcomes to be implemented, they had to be converted into legislation. The main legal outcomes were, firstly, the REDZs themselves, where the assessment process has been made more efficient. Given that the SEAs provided a pre-assessment of environmental and social impacts in these areas, a basic assessment is now required in the REDZs instead of a full scoping and EIA process. A second outcome is that the decision-making time by authorities is reduced for applications for environmental authorisation for projects in these areas, given that the SEA has provided a level of prior consultation and pre-assessment. South Africa is well-positioned to be among regional and global leaders in transitioning to an energy system, whereby renewable energy forms the primary generation. What are the strategic research and development initiatives that speak to technological innovation? One of the big challenges in environmental impact assessment is to better understand the linkages between components of the socioecological system, and how changes in one sector manifest through the system. For many years, this lack of ability to present scenario and system impacts has been raised as a cause of poor decision-making on complex issues. Consequently, the CSIR is conducting a research programme to incorporate systems-thinking tools into the practice of impact assessment. As part of this research, we intend to conduct a pilot study that uses systems-thinking to assess and portray the strategic implications of South Africa using renewable energy to develop a green hydrogen economy, both for domestic use and export. The systems-thinking research will link with the CSIR’s current research into the potential for South Africa to optimise our abundant wind and solar resources to produce green hydrogen. Hydrogen production using electrolysis requires freshwater input. In coastal areas, there is opportunity to source water for green hydrogen from large-scale seawater desalination using reverse osmosis. These coastal desalination plants could be scaled to produce additional potable water for coastal metros and industrial zones. For the inland areas, there is potential for reverse osmosis of contaminated water (such as from mining) to provide the input water for the green hydrogen. Renewable energy costs are decreasing and given that approximately 50% of the cost of seawater desalination is the energy input, the use of renewable energy to provide energy for these desalination plants is a significant opportunity. This opportunity is further supported by the economics of green hydrogen production where the costs of water desalination are a very small portion of the total costs. This provides an opportunity to oversize the water production which can support local water augmentation during periods of drought and water shortages. ■ Service magazine | 17

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