Apollo – Cahora Bassa: enigma and diversions

by Eustace F. Raynham, former chief engineer – electrical, and transmission manager, Eskom

First edition, published by EE Publishers, June 2004, ISBN: 0-620-32261-6
Price: R238 inc VAT and postage in South Africa

Click here to order for delivery inside South Africa
Contact ee.admin@ee.co.za to order for delivery outside South Africa
Click here for details of other books from EE Publishers

The book covers wide-ranging aspects of the Cahora Bassa – Apollo hydroelectric and HVDC project, and the technical trials, tribulations and critical lessons learned in this world-first project, which at the time was the longest, highest-power, highest voltage HVDC link in the world, and the first to use the emerging solid state thyristor technology, as opposed to mercury arc rectifiers.

The technical challenges were enormous and not without problems – eventually leading to litigation and hearings at an international Court of Arbitration in Lisbon in 1988, when HidroElectrica de Cabora Bassa (HCB) withheld the 7% bank guarantee in respect of the DC transmission lines, and (unsuccessfully) claimed damages against ZAMCO, the project consortium comprising AEG, Brown Boveri, Siemens, SAE and its South African subsidiary, Powerlines, on the contested basis that the lines were under-designed.

But to add to the technical complications, the project spanned extremely difficult times – an era of massive growth of Eskom’s generation and transmission infrastructure, and an era of intense political, social and economic turmoil, strife and civil war in the region – the death throes of colonialism in Rhodesia and Mozambique, the revolution in Portugal, the transfer of power in Mozambique to Frelimo, the devastating internecine civil strife and disruption by Renamo (aided and abetted by South African elements), and the coming to the end of white minority rule in South Africa.

And yet, despite the political and technical difficulties with the scheme in the 1980s and 1990s, its now successful refurbishment and integral role in the South African power system strongly vindicates the earlier pioneering work.

The book is about the politics and technicalities of power in this period, the times of Verwoerd, Vorster, Eschel Rhoodie, PW and Pik Botha, of industrialists such as Dr. H J van der Bijl, Dr. H J van Eck, Dr. R L Straszacker and Dr. John Maree, and of the Eskom engineers involved – Dr. Ignatius de Villiers and his “boys” – Bruce Norman, Eustace Rayhnam, Jan Smith, GD Walker, TF Stark, Basie Stegmann, Niels Troost, Fanie van Schoor, “Empty” Wessels, and many more. The book also covers the HVDC technology leaders of the multinational electrical corporations involved at the time in one way or another in this project – Gerhard Heyner of AEG, W Ziegler of Siemens, KW Kanngiesser of Brown Boveri, Dr. LE Zaffanella and Dr. Hermann Schneider of GE, Ake Ekstrom of ASEA, L Patanella of SAE/Powerlines, and Dr. Tom Calverley of Cigre.

The forward to the book is given by Ken King, chairman of the South African National Committee of Cigre. Cigre plays a prominent part throughout the book, and in fact a whole chapter is devoted to Cigre, including the difficult period when South African engineers were barred from attending certain technical meetings, and the key role of the Cigre expert witnesses at the Arbitration Court hearings in Lisbon in 1988.

Ultimately the book is an inspiring part of South Africa’s technological history, highlighting a number of lessons learned, and providing important messages and pointers regarding the future of international renewable energy initiatives for the African continent. The book will be greatly appreciated by Raynham’s contemporaries, protoges, younger engineers now working in the field of HVDC, and a wide range of persons interested in the turbulent times of this international project.

The book has 208 full colour pages, 18 chapters, 26 diagrams and tables, 2 appendices, 85 references and 12 pages of high-quality full-colour pictures (courtesy Eskom Heritage Department).

Thanks to ABB, ALSTOM, Eskom and Siemens, whose valued sponsorship and support makes possible the publishing of a specialist book of historical and technical record such as this. A special thanks also for the support and patience of Tony Britten and John Gosling of Eskom, and Dorine Raynham, wife of the late Eustace Raynham.

Apollo – Cahora Bassa: Enigma and diversions
by Eustace F. Raynham, former chief engineer – electrical, and transmission manager, Eskom
First edition, published by EE Publishers, June 2004, ISBN: 0-620-32261-6
Price: R238 inc VAT and postage in South Africa

Click here to order for delivery inside South Africa
Contact ee.admin@ee.co.za to order for delivery outside South Africa
Click here for details of other books from EE Publishers