NewEnergyNews: SOUTH AFRICA WANTS WAVES

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    Sunday, March 02, 2008

    SOUTH AFRICA WANTS WAVES

    A few power outages and a country can really start thinking seriously about New Energy. (See TURN TOWARD SOLAR IN DESPERATE S. AFRICA and S. AFRICA, FACING SHORTS, TO TRY NEW ENERGY) Eskom, the once conservative and slow-moving South African national utility, is now seriously looking at solar, wind and wave energies and biofuels with plans to act promptly and aggressively.

    For wave energy, the country has narrowed the choice of generating devices down to 1 of -- 10! Canada's Finavera Renewables is independently proceeding with plans for a 20-megawatt project off S. Africa's coasts

    The government must now create a supportive policy environment. It must establish a required level of power purchase for wave energy and allow a feed-in tariff. Streamling the permitting and environmental impact processes by coordinating between government agencies will also be important.

    Eskom and S. African academic institutions are developing a collaborative and communicative atmosphere as well as a public database of wave energy information for developers.

    As S. Africa’s desperation drives them to do what needs to be done, they become a model for the rest of the world because the world, too, will sooner or later discover an urgent need for New Energy.


    Most coasts register some wave energy potential. Studies now beginning will give S. Africa's planners more detail. (click to enlarge)

    Eskom explores wave energy
    Francois Williams, 25 February 2008 (News 24)
    and
    SA’s shores could generate up to 10,000MW, but costs still an obstacle
    Olivia Soraya Spadavecchia, 26 February 2008 (Creamer Media’s Engineering News)

    WHO
    Terence Govender, head of Eskom Research and Innovation Department (ERID), Eskom (South Africa’s national utility); Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES)/University of Stellenbosch; South African National Energy Research Institute (Saneri);

    WHAT
    In response to severe electricity shortages and outages, Eskom, the national utility, is planning to install wave energy production for South Africa among the New Energies it will develop to bolster domestic energy supply. CRSES says there may be 8,000 to 10,000 megawatts (MW) of wave energy capacity on S.A.’s coastline.

    A Finavera Renewables prototype buoy. Finavera is planning a 20-megawatt installation off S. Africa's coast. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    - Eskom has been researching wave energy since 2002. Detailed assessment of S.A.’s coast has been under way since 2005.
    - It plans to develop a 1400 MW wave energy capacity by 2025.
    - Final decisions are due in 2009.

    WHERE
    - Considerations for where to locate the wave energy installations, expected in March, must will include sea routes, harbours, river mouths, wave consistency, proximity to the grid and environmental impacts.
    - The biggest potential is on the west and south coasts.

    Artist's rendering of a large Finavera wave energy buoy installation. (click to enlarge)

    WHY
    - The process will begin with wave pattern monitoring technology over the upcoming 2 years and a geophysical survey of the ocean floor this year.
    - The constant evolution of wave energy technology requires careful vigilance despite S.A.’s urgent need for New Energy sources.
    - Demonstration pilot projects of less than 1 megawatt and viability studies are expected to cost R500,000. Funds will come from WWF and Eskom.
    - Eskom’s working group is led by the University of Stellenbosch's Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies.

    QUOTES
    - Govender, Eskom: “Technology is constantly changing and Eskom welcomes suggestions from technology suppliers…”
    - CRSES statement: "Many studies have been done on wave and ocean capacity along our shores - the verdict is that the latent power that is available is promising. The main challenge is cost and finding the right technology…"

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