Is government intervention hampering private investment into East-African renewables?

Many experts believe the contribution of governments within East-Africa is slowing the speed of growth in the renewable energies sector. Government involvement in the design, development and operation of mini-grids is deterring potential private investments; private investments into East-African renewable energies were predicted to surge in recent years but this has not been the case.
Experts from within the sector are pointing the finger at government agencies that are crowding out the developers using legal and political tools that are in need of reforms. Private companies have indeed shown an interest in investing but they have insisted the power and subsidies given to government companies need addressing if their investment is to be warranted.
Kenya’s ministry of energy has said that overall electricity access has increased within the country from 23 percent in 2009 to 50 percent in 2015; however, the unequal distribution of this electricity is still highly prevalent with much of northern Kenya still deprived of such resource. Regions such as northern Kenya have access of about 5 percent. It says eight out of the 20 poorest parliamentary constituencies “where 74 percent to 97 percent of people live below poverty line” are found in this northern region.
A number of renewable energies companies would happily address this problem, through investment into the northern and other neglected territories of Kenya, however, the unfair position of power given to Kenya’s Rural Electrification Authority (REA), just completely deters these prospective companies.

In countries such as Kenya, which has such vast areas which do not have access to any electricity, mini-grids are definitely a better option to grid extension; it provides better quality and more reliable electricity to remote areas.

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How drones are revolutionizing the construction industry

Drones have been one of the fastest growing phenomenon’s in the last few years, both in terms of private and commercial use. To be the expansion into context, back in 2012 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimated that by 2012, 30’000 drones will be operating in US airspace; at this current time (2016) around 2.5 million drones are operational in the United States, of which 500’000 are being used commercially. Unsurprisingly, the FAA has since revised their forecast and now predicts the country will have 7 million drones in the air by 2020.
Many believe drones are the next step in the process of the ‘industrial revolution’. Before the availability of the modern cranes and industrial equipment, we rely so heavily upon today, laborers would be forced to complete every single job on the construction site by hand. Jobs that today take months to complete would have in years gone by taken years, and in maybe 20 years time, the jobs we see today taking months could take weeks, thanks to the use of drones.
Assessing the earth for the foundations of construction is also something that a drone can be considerably more efficient for. Traditional land survey equipment gets the job done and provides accurate results, however, when the apt software is installed into a drone, it will also attain accurate result but it will complete the job in a time 85-percent quicker at a cost of 10 times cheaper than traditional methods.
Furthermore, the job a project manager is also made fundamentally easier through the assistance of drones. In years gone by builders manually assessed project dimensions, which would predominantly be unreliable, timely and costly.  By using drone data tools, the drone can automatically measure essential projects components, such as stockpile volumetric, whilst also sending instant feedback to the project manager who can begin analysis.
Drones are becoming increasingly common in day-to-day life but this is just for leisure, more importantly, drones are becoming more and more prevalent in a variety of industries but none more crucially than construction. Construction is an industry very much built on efficiency, in the sense of cost and time; hence the reason drones potentially have such a pivotal role to play, when the above reasons are taken into consideration.

You would be a brave person to bet against drones being a key player in the next industrial revolution.

Hotel developments to lead the way for growth in African tourism

A number of the world’s largest hotel chains are betting on Africa being their next big investment opportunity. Africa’s tourism sector is already on a momentous upwards slope and this is the obvious trend that has caught the attention of some of the world’s most renowned hotel names, such as, The Hilton, Fairmont and the Jumeirah group. Starwood, Marriot and the Four Seasons have also publically stated they intend on investing heavily across North, South and Central Africa in the five-years between now and 2021 that experts predict will be one of the largest periods of hotel growth in the continent’s history.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa is currently rising at an astronomical rate; last year, the global growth rate of FDI was 1%, whereas in Africa they experienced a 7% growth. Paul Frimpong, Investor Analyst at international business facilitation experts Naseba, said: “The enormous potential of the African continent cannot be emphasized enough. Africa is the fastest growing region for FDIs in the world. Aggregate household consumption will reach $1.4 trillion with collective GDP hitting $2.6 trillion in 2020 alone. These facts show that with the understanding of the growth momentum, combined with the right strategies, presents handsome rewards for current and prospective investors in the region.”

Not only does the hotel boom in Africa provide more opportunity for the tourism industry but it also presents an abundance of opportunity for the continents architects, interior designers, real estate developers, buyers and engineers working on not only hospitality, but retail, commercial and residential developments.

 

HOW THE ELECTRICITY GRID WORKS

The electricity grid is a complex and incredibly important system, and one of the most impressive engineering feats of the modern era. It transmits power generated at a variety of facilities and distributes it to end users, often over long distances. It provides electricity to buildings, industrial facilities, schools, and homes. And it does so every minute of every day, year-round.

What makes up the electricity grid?

Our nation’s electricity grid consists of four major components, each of which is detailed below.

Individual generators

An assortment of facilities generate electricity, including coal-and normal gas-blazing force plants, hydroelectric dams, atomic force plants, wind turbines, and sunlight based boards. The area of these power generators – and their separation from end clients – differs broadly. These innovations are likewise physically distinctive, and are utilized and controlled contrastingly on the force matrix therefore. For instance, certain sorts of force plants, for example, coal and atomic force plants have minimal fleeting adaptability in conforming their power yield; it takes quite a while to increase or down their power yield. Other plants, such as natural-gas fired plants, can be ramped up very quickly, and are often used to meet peaks in demand. More variable technologies, such as wind and solar photovoltaics, are generally used whenever they are available, in large part because their fuel – sunlight and wind – is free.

energy-transmission-lines-sunset.jpg

At any given time, there is also always a “reserve margin,” a specified amount of backup electricity generating capacity that is available to compensate for potential forecasting errors or unexpected power plant shutdowns. Electricity demand, supply, reserve margins, and the mix of electricity generating technologies is constantly monitored and managed by grid operators to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Electricity generators are owned by electric companies, or utilities, which are in turn regulated by the state’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) or the Public Service Commission (PSC). PUCs and PSCs are independent regulatory agencies appointed by the state legislature. Generators can only be built with approval from the PUC or PSC, and these agencies set appropriate electricity rates within their state that the utilities must abide by.

Transmission lines

Transmission lines are important to convey high-voltage power over long separations and associate power generators with power purchasers.

Transmission lines are either overhead electrical cables or underground power links. Overhead links are not protected and are defenseless against the climate, but rather can be less costly to introduce than underground power links. Overhead and underground transmission lines are made of aluminum combination and fortified with steel; underground lines are normally protectedransmission lines carry high voltages because it reduces the fraction of electricity that is lost in transit – about 6% on average in the United States. As electricity flows through the wires, some of it dissipates as heat through a process called resistance. The higher the voltage is on a transmission line, the less electricity it loses. (Most of the electric current flows close to the surface of the transmission line; using thicker wires would have minimal impact on transmission losses.)

Transmission-level voltages are typically at or above 110,000 volts or 110 kV, with some transmission lines carrying voltages as high as 765 kV. Power generators, however, produce electricity at low voltages. In order to make high-voltage electricity transport possible, the electricity must first be converted to higher voltages with a transformer.

energy-transmission-substation-transformer.jpg

These high voltages are also significantly greater than what you need in your home, so once the electricity gets close to end users, another transformer converts it back to a lower voltage before it enters the distribution network.

Transmission lines are highly interconnected for redundancy and increased reliability of electricity supply, as this map of U.S. transmission lines shows. There are three main transmission networks across the United States: the Western Interconnection which is west of the Mississippi River; the Eastern Interconnection, which is largely east of the Mississippi River; and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

Like electricity generators, transmission lines must be approved by the state (PUCs or PSCs) before being built. However, wholesale electricity transactions, which are made between regional grid operators, are regulated by a national agency called the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

FERC regulates the electricity grid on a larger scale than PUCs and can resolve disputes among different market participants on the grid. Transmission networks are sometimes managed by utilities, but some networks are managed by separate entities known as Independent System Operators (ISOs) or Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs). These companies facilitate competition among electricity suppliers and provide access to transmission by scheduling and monitoring the use of transmission lines.

Distribution

The distribution network is simply the system of wires that picks up where the transmission lines leave off. These networks start at the transformers and end with homes, schools, and businesses. Distribution is regulated on the state level by PUCs and PSCs, who set the retail rates for electricity in each state.

Consumer use or “load”

The transmission grid comes to an end when electricity finally gets to the consumer, allowing you to turn on the lights, watch television, or run your dishwasher. The patterns of our lives add up to a varying demand for electricity by hour, day, and season, which is why the management of the grid is both complicated and vital for our everyday lives.

Source:http://www.ucsusa.org/clean-energy/how-electricity-grid-works#.VzP-KtR97s0

Shanghai Metal Corporation encourages the development and innovation of new technologies. You can visit the company’s website , contact us and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more information and news on metal.Scan the QR code below and stay informed about our latest updates.

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“CLOSER THAN WE THINK”

In the 50’s and early 60’s, there was a wonderful newspaper series, “Closer Than We Think”, drawn by Arthur Radebaugh. In 1958, he predicted that we would soon be driving solar powered electric cars. And also, look at the impact of the electric car and how it will cause the next oil crisis.   

For years, everyone has worried about Peak Oil, where it was assumed that the cost of oil production would keep going up and up until nobody could afford it anymore. Then fracking and oil sands and deepwater drilling brought new supplies on stream and we got an oil price crash instead. Tom Randall, a Bloomberg’s writer predicts that the electric car will cause the next oil crisis. They don’t have to take over the entire market to do so; just enough to tip supply up over demand like fracking did.electricCAR2

“With all good technologies, there comes a time when buying the alternative no longer makes sense. Think smartphones in the past decade, color TVs in the 1970s, or even gasoline cars in the early 20th century. Predicting the timing of these shifts is difficult, but when it happens, the whole world changes. It looks like the 2020’s will be the decade of the electric cars”.

They predict that “By 2020, some electric cars and SUVs will be faster, safer, cheaper, and more convenient than their gasoline counterparts.” Extrapolating from last year’s growth rate (and Tesla’s forecasts), they calculate that by 2023 electric cars could displace 2 million barrels of oil per day. That’s how much new production came on-stream and caused the 2014 oil crisis that continues to glut the world in cheap oil. Others (including oil companies) predict a much slower take-up of electric cars, which would delay the crisis. But it does seem inevitable.

electricCAR

They also point out some other benefits

Electric cars will reduce the cost of battery electricCAR3storage and help store intermittent sun and wind power. In the move toward a cleaner grid, electric vehicles and renewable power create a mutually beneficial circle of demand.

Of course if they are right, then a lot of countries are placing some sketchy bets on pipelines and oil infrastructure.

Source: http://www.treehugger.com/ (Lloyd Alter) 

There’s a lot of advantage using electrical cars, especially the fact that they don’t cause any pollution and it’s free energy! You can be green too and save the world! 

As a representative of the metal industry, Shanghai Metal is one of the leading businesses in the manufacturing of metalworking industry. We can produce and export the best quality of aluminum and other metal products, such as shipping containers and the material needed for the manufacturing of the cars of the future. We prioritize the efficiency of manufacturing and environmental sustainability.

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Iron-air batteries: a cheap and eco-friendly solution for energy storage

After more than 40 after preparing the first prototype of a cheap , rechargeable, high energy density iron-air battery, researchers at the University of Southern California are now finishing the job of the patent-pending design of the battery.

The technical characteristics of the batteries look particularly well-suited to the kind of large-scale energy storage that could accelerate the adoption of renewable energy sources.

lithium-air-battery

Back in the 70’s, researchers were already working on environmentally friendly rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and only recent advances in materials technology have made this technology into one of the most common, high-performing solutions for today’s portable electronics.

Iron compared to other materials has a few advantages: it’s durable, it has a great capacity to pack energy (per unit of mass), it’s recyclable but most importantly it’s cheap with costs around US$1/kg (2.2 lb).

Iron-air batteries were first expected to be used for electric vehicles and military applications after the 1973 oil crisis. However, research stopped abruptly only years later, when scientists realized that iron-air batteries presented a serious  limitation: whenever the battery was being charged, a wasteful process of hydrolysis drained away about half of the battery’s energy.

iron_air_battery

With today’s technology and advanced research, University of Southern California found a solution to this  problem. They learned that adding a small amount of bismuth sulfide into the battery shut down the harmful reaction and reduced the waste of energy more than tenfold, from 50 down to just 4% .

The other good characteristic cost-effective design of its iron electrode. The researchers combined iron powder with a polyethylene binder, heating the mix to obtain a “pressed-plate” electrode that is simple to make and has high specific energy.

The iron-air battery is exhibiting very promising durability, with a target life of 5,000 charge-discharge cycles. Even more importantly, the batteries seem to retain good performance when they are being drained quickly: at a two-hour rate of discharge, the batteries are showing a twenty-fold increase in capacity compared to commercially available electrodes.

Shanghai Metal Corporation encourages the development and innovation of new technologies. You can visit the company’s website , contact us and follow us on twitter and facebook for more information and news on metal.

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Distribution Poles: From Wood to Hot Dip Galvanized Steel

With the increasing demand of eco-friendly ans sustainable products from both the public and private sector, the main sector to improve is the energy sector itself.
Distribution pole are the main vectors of electricity and have become over the century a common view of our roads and fields. 

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wood distribution pole

Steel poles are becoming increasingly popular among utility companies for building  distribution lines or for replacing the traditional wood poles. Many reasons push these companies to use steel ans invest in the new distribution poles. In this article we will try to summarize the benefit of hot dip galvanized steel mainly reported from linemen who have worked with both wood and steel

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distribution pole – source: wikipedia.org

Wood pole VS Steel pole

Lighter

For similar strengh, a steel pole is 30 to 60% lighter than a wood pole. This makes them easier to lift, load, install and  handle in general.

Cheaper: Thanks to continuous improvement of quality and manufacturing process of steel poles the cost of steel poles come down to a point where they became competitive with wood. 

Flexible:  

Unlike wood poles which can only have a certain maximum size determined by the size of the tree taken from,  the size of wood poles can be determined freely according to the need. Steel poles can be made to handle virtually any load and in any length and can also be made as single piece poles or in sections if that would help handling them in the field.

More Sustainable

Galvanized steel poles were a response deforestation issues steel is one of the most recyclable materials around so there is never any environmental concern over disposing steel. an old pole will be recycled to make a multitude of other products. Also , the protective system that is required to cover steel poles is made of zinc which is also an environmentally friendly material and virtually 100 percent recyclable. In addition. The coating systems have been improved so much over the years that it has reduced  the maintenance needed and improved their life expectancy of the poles.

Safer:  

The steel structures do not require a full-length copper grounding wire. They are already self conducting for grounding purposes. As a result, no installation of a ground wire is required.

pole 4
lineman on distribution pole source: wikipedia.org

source: steel.org,  smdisteel.org

Shanghai Metal Corporation manufactures hot dip galvanized steel products because it believes in its potential and encourages its use for a more sustainable industry and a clean environment.
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