America’s Department of Energy is investing $3.9bn in ‘smart grid’ technology, aimed at making power transmission around the country more flexible.
Steven Chu, the US Energy Secretary said the funds would help create a system to allocate electricity more efficiently. This will done through improved power lines by allowing batteries in hybrid cars to feed back into the grid when needed.
“Right now, the way we distribute energy, it’s like plumbing – it’s down the hill:’ he told reporters recently. When asked about people objecting to high-voltage power lines being built near their homes as part of a smart grid, Chu said he would appeal to US national interests.
Napower, the Namibian state power utility, has awarded Barloworld Namibia a $31 million engineering, procurement, construction and turnkey (EPCT) contract to build a new power station at Walvis Bay. The power station, to be named Anixas, will provide additional power to the fast-growing uranium-mining sector on the Namibian west coast. It will produce 21,5 MW using diesel-powered generator sets. The project is due for commissioning in December 2010.
Namibia will help Zimbabwe ramp up power production from the current 450 MW to at least 750 MW at the Hwange thermal power station. Botswana is aiding Zimbabwe in the revival of the Bulawayo station.
NamPower invested $45million in the Zimbabwe power project, which includes the addition of two more generation units later in 2009. Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) is investing $8million in the revival of the 90MW Bulawayo station, with a view to boosting the capacity to 120MW.
The Hwange station is already using four units, all revived with the help of NamPower in return for the exportation of an unspecified percentage of the power produced to Namibia. Botswana Power Corporation expects to have a 50:50 share with Zimbabwe, so both countries will get substantial benefits out of the deal.
Zimbabwe has a lot of power generation infrastructure rotting at Harare, Manyame and [the] Kariba thermal power stations. Undeveloped projects include the Gokwe north power station, which has the capacity to produce 1 400 MW, the Lupane methane gas project which has a potential for 300 MW and the Batoka Gorge hydroelectric project, which can generate up to 1 600 MW.
The country’s hydroelectric potential remains underutilised, as it has many projects, which have been on the cards for years. Projects are stalled because investors, who left the country when the farm invasions began in are still largely unwilling to return. Zimbabwe has a peak demand of 2 000 MW, produces only 1 100 MW and imports up to 500 MW from neighbours Zambia, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It also has a stand-by agreement for emergency power supplies with South Africa.
Shell Nigeria has completed one of the three, Open Cycle gas turbines in the Afam Power Plant, but the facility cannot run, in part because of the vandalisation of the Alakiri gas pipeline. This is contrary to the widespread rumour that the recent, slight improvement in Nigerian power supply was due to the commissioning of the Afam power plant.
The company plans three 147MW Open Cycle gas turbines, (totaling 441MW) and one 200MW steam turbine which, when coupled with the three gas turbines, makes the Afam plant the biggest combined cycle power plant on the African continent.
But there are several obstacles on the way to delivery. The entire plant may be ready for commissioning a year from today, but the transmission grid, as it is, is not stable enough to transport the power.
MAURITANIAN ENERGY MINISTER Oumar Ould Yali has inaugurated the construction of the country’s first solar energy station in the town of Beled Teyeb. The electrification project, funded by Spain, is expected to benefit 4,000 families in the region. Ould Yali said the project would contribute to improving people’s living conditions, creating new job opportunities and reducing poverty.