Energy storage for improved quality of life

Internationally, there is an increased awareness of the need to look at electrification and its provision differently. 
Renewable energy resources such as wind, water or solar solutions have shown that clean energy, energy not dependent on non-renewable sources such as coal, is not only a viable alternative to traditional power solutions, but that it carries additional benefits such as on-the spot delivery, cutting down significantly on infrastructure costs.


Many misconceptions about sustainable building, says the concrete institute

Concrete has a low embodied energy which is an important factor for ‘green building’, says Bryan Perrie, managing director of The Concrete Institute.
Perrie says embodied energy is the energy consumed for the raw material extraction, transportation, manufacture, assembly, installation, disassembly and demolition of a product system over the duration of the product’s life. In the case of concrete, the embodied energy as a result of these processes is low and the total energy - when full life-cycle analysis is assessed - also low.


Engen celebrates women truck drivers this Women’s Month

Whilst you would expect this to be a man’s game, a surprising number of women truck drivers work for Engen, whose driver programme has – since 2006 - seen females compete successfully with males in this exacting environment.

Engen’s National Transport Manager, Llewelyn Snyman explains that there’s nothing stopping women in an environment previously dominated by men.

“We recruit drivers from around the country and they arrive with an EC Code Licence: if they are selected, we put them through our Professional Driver Learnership Programme to equip them with the necessary skills and mind-sets to transport Diesel, Petrol or Paraffin. Thanks to our Bulk Truck Operator (BTO) Instructors who provide the dangerous goods training as well as mentoring and coaching, they emerge with a Professional Drivers Permit and are ready to join our team.”

Working out of Engen’s Langlaagte Depot, Palesa Modiselle began driving large rigs for Fast and Fresh before joining Engen in 2006. With Engen she has been given the opportunity to study Business and Transport Management. Now 37-years-old, Palesa, describes herself as ‘very single’ and finds driving fun.

“I like the fact that the job is challenging: while it is a big responsibility, it’s great for someone who likes her own company and being in control,” she says. Palesa would not miss night shifts though, and has ambitions of becoming a transport analyst in the future."

Also from Langlaagte is Tebogo Sekowe who completed her learnership in 2009. She was was employed on a permanent basis in 2010. The 38-year-old is married without children. “I enjoy competing within a predominantly male team, whilst also enjoying the solitude of life on the road,” says Tebogo.

Her colleague Nomagugu Dhlamini, who joined Engen in 2009, commends the company for its employee benefits such as medical aid, pension and school, car and housing support. “Also, the amazing quality of Engen’s Professional Driver Learnership meant I quickly got a Code 14 and opportunity to drive dangerous goods, which is very challenging and rewarding,” says Nomagugu

Now 42-years-old, Nomagugu recognises that this kind of tough work is a man-sized job, and that it takes a lot out of a driver. She says she would welcome moving into an office position, once she gets to the end of her road.

“Ultimately, working in Dispatch would be my first choice and Engen would really benefit from the fact my trucking experience mans that I know every customer, every driver and every route.” she says.

Engen’s Pretoria Terminal Manager, Kebone Dlamini appreciates the commitment she sees in Engen’s women drivers. 

“You get a sense that they are working for their families and that they are proud of what they do. These women are certainly on the same level, professionally as their male counterparts.”

Professionalism and excellence go hand-in-hand in an environment that has zero tolerance for error. Twice annually all drivers undergo assessments. Continuous improvement is fostered through on-going training. Excellence is tested and recognised through Engen’s Driver of the Year Programme, where the top drivers are selected and put through their paces.

Highly experienced and skilled, Rebecca Mangwane began driving trucks in 1981 and has been selected twice for Engen’s Driver of the Year Competition, winning the ‘best firefighter’ section in 2010. With four children and six grandchildren, Rebecca remains passionate about her job.

“I love my job and being on the road,” she explains.

“I also appreciate that Engen gives us enough time off to rest and charge our batteries. I always have peace of mind as a result of the company’s constant focus on safety. There is no margin for error in our game.”

Looking ahead, Llewelyn Snyman believes that as traditional family roles become redefined, many more women will take up the challenge of transporting dangerous goods.

“Soon we will see more female faces behind the wheels as they drive day and night between depots and service stations. After all, our women drivers have proven themselves and shown that they can compete well with the guys. They embrace our company values and are dedicated to Engen.”


Off-grid solutions becoming an important consideration in the power sector

South Africa is currently one of the most attractive destinations for power project developers, sponsors and energy players seeking investment opportunities to support and grow power projects. One of the key drivers for any power sector player remains an enabling environment with long-term sustainability and commitment to enhance and support growth.


Wiese’s sunny disposition

RETAIL tycoon Christo Wiese is an adventurous investor with wide ranging investment interests. But his latest tilt at alternative energy is most surprising – particularly since this unexpected deal was facilitated through a company better known for its acumen in specialised financial services.


South Africa’s energy industry turns to gas

Seeking to reduce its dependence on coal-fired power, South Africa is shifting its energy mix toward natural gas and renewables.

The country currently consumes around 180bn standard cu feet (scf) of gas per year and remains heavily reliant on imports to satisfy demand. Roughly two-thirds of total consumption is imported from neighbouring Mozambique.

With the authorities announcing plans to add 3,1 GW of gas-fired generation capacity by 2025, compared to a total of 1,35 GW at present, identifying new domestic gas reserves and boosting imports both rank high on the agenda.

Commercialising conventional reserves

Efforts to commercialise the Ibhubesi gas field, located 105km off the coast of North Cape Province, have taken another step forward, with Australia’s Sunbird Energy – which holds a 76% stake in the joint venture alongside national oil company PetroSA’s 24% – signing an agreement with public electricity utility Eskom last year.

Ibhubesi ranks as the largest proven gas field in the country, with 540bn scf of deposits and an additional 7,8trn scf believed to lie in the surrounding Orange Basin.

Under the deal, Eskom’s Ankerlig power stations, 40km north of Cape Town, will take delivery of 30bn scf of gas per day for up to 15 years beginning in 2018, when production at Ibhubesi is expected to come on-line.

Exploration efforts are also progressing in nearby Saldanha Bay, where 14 oil and gas exploration licences have been issued for blocks off the coast.

Discovery and drilling in the area could help fuel ongoing development of the nearby industrial development zone (IDZ) specialising in oil and gas services and marine repair.

According to Willem Roux, Saldanha Bay port manager, the IDZ, which is scheduled to see R9,2bn (US$602.5m) worth of investment over the next five years, is ideally positioned to serve oil rigs operating off the west and east coasts of Africa; around 120 oil rigs pass by the South Africa coastline each year, he told local media in 2015.

While much of the hub’s capacity will be geared toward supporting offshore production, work is also beginning on a liquefied petroleum gas import terminal in the bay, due to come online by June 2017.

Shale potential

In addition to conventional reserves, shale gas presents an attraction avenue for boosting domestic supply, with South Africa home to the eighth-largest shale reserves in the world.

Numerous energy firms, including Shell, Falcon Oil & Gas and Bundu Gas & Oil, have long sought permission to explore shale gas potential in the Karoo Basin in the south of the country.

The semi-arid Karoo region, which is also home to a national park, is thought to hold between 390trn and 485trn scf of recoverable reserves. According to a study commissioned by Shell, extracting just 50trn scf of these reserves could add up to US$20bn per year to South Africa’s economy – equivalent to 0,5 GDP percentage points – for the next 25 years and create as many as 700,000 jobs.

If granted a licence to drill, the company has said it would invest some $200m during the first exploration phase of six planned wells.

In early March, following several years of debate over the environmental impacts of production, the government announced that shale gas exploration would begin within 12 months.

“One area of real opportunity for South Africa is the exploration of shale gas,” a joint statement by cabinet ministers responsible for the economy said in March.

“Exploration activities are scheduled to commence in the next financial year. This will lead to excellent prospects for beneficiation and add value to our mineral wealth.”

Water worries

Despite the discovery of commercially viable reserves, extracting the shale gas may not be an easy feat.

According to a recent strategic environmental assessment for shale gas development in South Africa, in order to disrupt the substrata and release the gas, vast amounts of water would be required as part of the fracking process, water the arid Karoo region does not naturally possess. Average rainfall ranges from just 100mm in the west of Karoo to 400mm in the east.

The potential solutions – either piping-in water or finding deep aquifers – would likely be expensive and drive up baseline costs, while the extensive use of water could also damage the local ecosystem.

Increasing imports

While commercialising domestic reserves remains a long-term priority, South Africa is relying on a new 2,600km pipeline from Mozambique to help bolster supply in the medium term.

Mozambique has an estimated 100trn cu feet of proven natural gas reserves, according to press reports, making it the third-largest holder in Africa after Nigeria ad Algeria.

In early March South Africa’s SacOil Holdings announced an agreement with Mozambique’s national oil and gas company, Mozambican private-sector consortium Profin Consulting and the China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau (CPP) to construct a US$6bn natural-gas pipeline from the Rovuma Basin in northern Mozambique to South Africa’s Gauteng Province, with offtakes to other neighbouring South African Development Community countries.

Funding for the project will come primarily from China, with the CPP responsible for procuring 70% of debt financing from Chinese financial institutions. Though the details of the financing have yet to be finalised, pipeline completion has been tentatively set for as early as 2020.

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