From the editor’s desk: Exciting time ahead

EMP 2024 Electronics Manufacturing & Production Handbook News

Peter Howells.

Another year has begun, and what a start it has been for some!

As I sit here and jot my thoughts down into my trusty PC, my mind keeps racing back to Saturday night when I was ankle deep in mud and water after a flash flood that wreaked havoc in the northern suburbs of Durban. Within the space of one and a half hours, 103 mm of rain was dumped onto the unsuspecting residents of Durban North, causing widespread damage to property and taking the lives of a few unfortunate souls.

Frightening as Saturday night was, the resilience of residents was amazing to behold. People turned up to help neighbours rescue possessions that were being damaged, and to help with the cleanup thereafter.

A day later and I was poring through weather apps on my phone to see what was in store for us for the rest of the week. Another storm was to hit on the Wednesday, prompting the Department of Education to close schools early that day, trying to make sure that nobody needed to be out in the inclement weather conditions.

It is quite undeniable that the recent weather conditions have worsened over the last few years. The average global temperature has increased year-on-year, and the storms seem to have become worse, dumping more rain in a shorter period, with the associated wind being more fierce. Whether this is solely caused by what is known as global warming is up for debate.

I, however, certainly believe that it does have a large influence on the destructive weather patterns we are experiencing.

Why am I bringing this up? Mainly because I am quite excited by the ongoing worldwide march towards renewable energy, which will hopefully see us burning fewer fossil fuels to generate the energy we require. South Africa is ideally situated to harness many forms of renewable energy and could become a world leader in the transition away from its reliance on fossil fuels.

One such example of a successful renewable energy project is the Kenhardt hybrid solar and battery facility in the Northern Cape, which started feeding electricity to the national grid in mid-December. The facility, one of the world’s first and largest hybrid generation and storage facilities, has a combined installed solar capacity of 540 MW from its three plants, and its attached battery system can output 225 MW of power.

With a 1140 MWh capacity, the battery can deliver 150 MW of power consistently between the peak times of 05:00 to 21:30 throughout the year. To put this into perspective, this output is about 30 MW more than the last unit that was producing power at Komati Power Station before it was decommissioned in October 2022.

For the first time, we have a large facility that can reliably deliver power in low sunlight conditions. And best of all; the entire plant was constructed in 18 months. Here’s hoping that the government sees the value in this project, and commissions more like it.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers of both Electronic Manufacturing & Production (EMP) and Dataweek magazines the best for this new year. We all have it within ourselves to make it a great year. Bill Vaughan said it best when he penned, “An optimist stays up until midnight to welcome the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.”

This year, let’s be the optimist!

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