From the editor's desk: Small miracles will hopefully lead to bigger ones

25 October 2023 News

Peter Howells, Editor.

As I sit here this month and ponder the few weeks that have passed, I wonder where the time has gone. Maybe as one gets older, time seems to be compressed more and more. Or maybe the old brains simply cannot cope with multitasking like we used to in our youth, making it seem like there is not enough time to accomplish everything we want to.

It seemed like just the other day I was sitting glued to the exhilarating rugby matches that were being televised during the Rugby World Cup 2019. It was amazing to see how the country could get behind a team. Ultimately, the power that this rugby team wielded in terms of bringing together people from all walks of life was astounding. Very few people were spared from the upliftment in spirits that were the result of winning the most sought-after trophy in rugby.

And here we are again. I, along with millions of other South Africans worldwide, witnessed a sporting spectacle worthy of champions when we triumphed over an excellent French team by a solitary point. More than winning, however, the team showed us how to behave. After the final whistle, players from both sides embraced each other in a show of camaraderie. They had done battle on the field, and although one team had to emerge victorious, both teams could hold their heads up high. Players consoled each other in a gesture of mutual respect, and quite frankly, rugby is the only team sport I can think of where that happens.

Normal people can take a leaf straight out of rugby’s playbook. Get out onto the field, play hard, ‘donder’ each other if you have to, but afterwards, shake a hand, give a hug and have a drink together as a sign of respect for each other.

It’s as if they genuinely care about each other!

And wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone behaved like this. Where people looked out for each other instead of the dog-eat-dog world that we often find ourselves in.

My mind then moved back to the game that was played earlier on the same day. Just into the second half of that game, the lights went out. I, and many others watching, immediately cast our thoughts to the scourge of loadshedding.

We, as South Africans, have become almost nonchalant about these forced power failures that have been thrust upon us. Most now take the power cuts in their stride and have learnt to live with them. This time, however, it had a direct impact on my viewing pleasure, which conjured up a lot of pent-up feelings.

It wasn’t loadshedding, but merely a brief power failure in the area. A few minutes later it was back on, and the rugby thankfully continued uninterrupted.

Many people have installed inverter-based backup solutions to get them through these power failures. They allow the use of renewable energy sources like solar and turbines. That part is easy. What is still an expensive problem is the storage required for these systems to be able to deliver the required amount of energy. Presently, Li-ion storage is the gold standard.

Recently, however, a report on a new solid-state battery technology crossed my desk. Exhibiting better properties than traditional Li-ion batteries, the technology promises greater safety and stability. The number of charge cycles is also greatly improved, with the current test system racking up more than 12 500 charge cycles. The technology is destined for residential and industrial use. Read about it here.

I am excited about this project. It promises to solve the biggest problem with storage currently, which is its longevity. Let’s hope that something comes out of it.


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