Collaboration for improved generation and distribution of electricity

May 24th, 2016, Published in Articles: EE Publishers, Articles: Energize, Featured: Energize


Eskom and CSIR sign MoU

Brian Molefe and Dr. Sibusiso Sibisi

Eskom and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) which will extend the existing agreement between the two parties, which was signed in 2010, to synergise the research capabilities of the two organisations so as to assist the power utility in its efforts to meet strategic and operational needs.

The overall accountability to manage the agreement will reside within Eskom’s Research, Testing and Development business unit. The agreement covers the next five years and is aimed at aligning and enhancing interaction between the organisations in support of national goals.

Brian Molefe, Eskom’s CEO, says the agreement develops a partnership which will further strengthen the collaborative relationship between the two parties and will provide a long term platform for scientific and operational research and evaluation tasks, providing decision support towards the realisation of Eskom’s mandate of ensuring reliable power to stimulate South Africa’s economic growth and address socio-economic challenges.

Molefe says the power utility will prioritise projects which will ensure its operational and financial sustainability as it refurbishes current power plants and delivers on new infrastructural projects to provide much-needed electricity.

Dr. Sibusiso Sibisi, the CEO of CSIR, says energy is one of the research organisation’s areas of focus. It wants to help the country achieve an energy-secure and low-carbon national economy.

Sibisi says Eskom and the CSIR can work together to come up with innovative solutions for current and future energy issues, determine what the new electricity system will look like and what the plans and responses should be that need to be put in place to build the future South African energy system.

To address its short-term requirements, Eskom says it has identified three imperatives which have been expanded to identify new and existing technologies and capabilities to address specific challenges:

  • The availability and reliability of the existing asset base: The organisations will work together on extending the transmission component’s lifespan through predictive maintenance; real-time grid monitoring using an advanced fire information system; laser-based refurbishment of high-value components; and the development of a joining technology and non-destructive testing centre to improve build and maintenance quality; analytical testing to ensure environmental compliance; and robotics and unmanned air vehicles for maintenance.
  • Safely delivering on the new build programme and capacity management: Research and development will focus on the reduction of water consumption; the development of advanced emission control technologies; the development of components for use in advanced high-temperature gas reactors and modelling of associated technologies; load forecasting; and smart energy management systems.
  • Financial sustainability: Aspects to be jointly investigated include security risk management solutions to prevent theft and safeguard high-value assets; cable and infrastructure theft detection and prevention; smart meter protection; and detection and prevention of illegal connections and revenue theft.

Molefe says Eskom is also facing significant challenges from fundamental shifts in the electricity and energy system which is becoming more distributed and flexible due to the increasing contribution of renewable technologies as well as the future focus on new build.

Thus, the power utility says, the two organisations intend to collaborate strategically on flexibility requirements in a future power system; implications of higher penetration of renewables; establishing new build capabilities and capacity; integrated foresight studies and energy scenario planning; the establishment of a joint centre for advanced manufacturing and repair technologies; a national centre of expertise for non-destructive testing and evaluation; and skills development and job creation.

Speaking to Energize, Dr. Rachel Chikwamba, the CSIR’s group executive for strategic alliances and communication, said the agreement gives the two organisations the ability to work as partners rather than on a project-to-project basis. Chikwamba said the two parties will work on long term solutions, in light of modern technological trends, to address industry issues regarding the security of electrical supply at affordable tariffs, environmental concerns relating to the generation of electricity, and to consider an optimal mix of generation technologies based on South Africa’s particular circumstances. The MoA also enables the parties to work on stimulating the supply chain, increasing efficiencies and creating new opportunities for local manufacturers.

The MoA can be found here




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