Company Announcement – South Africa’s energy supply challenge has created opportunities for companies to innovate in their use of energy, and to become a world leader in industrial energy efficiency, experts said in Durban on Tuesday. SA was already exporting its industrial energy efficiency knowledge and skills to 17 countries, said Ndivhuho Raphulu, director of the National Cleaner Production Centre of SA. “The energy shortage gave us real impetus to build skills and capacity with our Industrial Energy Efficiency Project,” Raphulu told the opening day of the IEE Conference and Manufacturing Indaba KZN. “SA has been accelerated by its energy shortages to the forefront of cleaner and more efficient production,” Raphulu said.

South Africa was the first to implement the IEE project, which now operates in 17 countries internationally. Hemant Grover, technical manager at NCPC-SA, said the 1340GWh savings enabled by the IEE project exceeds all energy generated at SA hydroelectric power stations by 30%, and equals 10% of the country’s nuclear power generation. The IEE savings would power 118,000 SA mid-income homes for a year. “Energy efficiency is energy that does not need to be created,” said Grover. “We need to start seeing it as a primary energy source, particularly under SA’s challenging conditions.” Manufacturing Circle executive director Coenraad Bezuidenhout said industry had been forced to become more self-sufficient in its generation and use of electricity, creating opportunities for cost saving and increased  competitiveness.

“Going green is now the competitive thing to do,” said Reinet van Zyl, sustainability manager at Arcelor Mittal in Saldanha, which joined the IEE programme at a time when rising power costs and global competition had forced it to the brink of closure. “We weren’t competitive and didn’t know how to change that, but the IEE programme and NCPC experts empowered us to see opportunities and make changes.”

Van Zyl said the steelmaker has cut its LPG consumption by 49%, saved 20MW in baseline energy demand and already paid back its R15m investment in energy efficiency. “NCPC made the difference by changing not just the way we operate, but also the way we think.”

Imraan Bux runs a textile manufacturer in rural KZN, 100km south of Durban, and faces challenges including cable theft and prolonged load shedding. But the advantage of not having industrial infrastructure, he says, provided a blank canvas on which to develop green industry solutions.

The NCPC-SA helped his small company, Imraan Textile Mills, to cut energy use 30% in one of its processes, and to increase productivity. The high cost of electricity is not as damaging as the cost of not having power at all, noted Lisa Reynolds of Saint Gobain, a global firm making building materials in SA. She agrees that the power crisis prompted industry to become more efficient in the use of energy, which means companies are less likely to spend their profits on the cost of wasted power. “Green manufacturing saves energy and generates profits,” she told the event. opera mini for pc

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The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) School of Engineering has unveiled the solar-powered car that will be the first African entrant into the biennial Bridgestone World Solar Challenge to be held from October 18 to 25. This solar car is an undergraduate engineering final year project led by Kirsty Veale and Clinton Bemont.

The UKZN solar car team is one of 47 teams from 25 countries. Many teams have been participating in the race since its inception in 1987. The South African car has been entered into the Challenger class, which is the premier segment of the event and by far the most competitive. Despite the fact that the Hulamin project cost just a tenth of that of many of its competitors, Bemont said the team was confident that it would perform well.

The car will be shipped to Australia on July 31. Once there, a special nonreflective coating that is hypersensitive to touch will be applied just before the race begins. The aerodynamically designed car is 5 m long, weighs around 230 kg and has a very low drag coefficient of just 0.07, which enables it to go both faster and further. It is lightweight, yet rigid and safe.

Work on creating a solar car at UKZN began in 2012. The car that will go to Australia is the second car that has been built from scratch. “We’ve built on and enhanced the 2014 car and kept part of the original team. That places us in a strong position to compete,” said Veale. The initial car, named iKlwa, won the national 2014 Sasol Solar Challenge and set distance records in the Olimpia class.

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In recent developments, Royal Dutch Shell is planning to park two massive Arctic oil drilling rigs in Seattle’s waterfront before they head north to Alaska — but the petrochemical giant will first have to get around protesters in kayaks and others who want to thwart the new frontier in oil exploration and spark a national debate about fossil fuels and climate change.

In brief, the Arctic offshore reserves are estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey to have 26 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 130 million cubic feet of natural gas. This amount according to Shell officials is said to increase domestic supply by over 1 million new barrels of oil per day. The reason for the opposition from conservation groups is that there is major concern about global warming and the impeding impact from the additional fossil fuel development Shell is about to embark on. They worry that industrial development and a catastrophic spill would ruin a fragile region far from emergency responders.

Shell received a positive feedback by state officials as they have welcomed the proposed exploratory drilling. Alaska hopes the federal government will share revenue and that Shell and other companies will transport crude through a pipeline system connected to the trans-Alaska pipeline. The company cleared a major hurdle recently when the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management approved the company’s multiyear drilling plan. However, it still needs several approvals from state and federal agencies before it can drill. Shell also is awaiting a drilling permit from the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and authorizations related to wastewater discharge from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, among others.
Let’s keep a keen eye out for development in this area.

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Waste is defined in the Environment Conservation Act No. 73 of 1989 as all undesirable or superfluous by-products, emissions, residues or remainders of any process or activity, whether gaseous, liquid or solid, or a combination of these. Waste can be divided into two categories, general waste and hazardous waste.
There has always been an issue with hazardous waste in terms of disposal for many industrial companies. Many industrial companies currently manage their hazardous waste by dumping in general waste dumps or even in open ground. This practice is an environmental issue globally as well as in South Africa. Legislation introduced in 2009, is aimed at stopping the incorrect and illegal hazardous waste disposal methods that are currently being used, as well as to build up a database of which waste streams come from where and how big they are. Regulations and legislature have been adopted and employed to manage industrial waste. For example, the National Environmental Management Waste Act, 2008 (Act No. 59, 2008) has legislated that all industrial companies must use certified waste disposal companies to dispose of their hazardous waste. Certificates and audits proving how the hazardous waste was disposed is a requirement to ensure that you do not fall foul of the act. If you do not comply with the new Act you could face imprisonment and/or fines of up to R10 million! tubemate download


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The economic potential for the African chemical industry is clear enough, with low costs of labour and materials, a relatively young and rapidly growing population, an expanding middle class and a rising demand for products. In the same light, Africa shares problems of many emerging markets, such as social volatility, unreliable electric power and a weak infrastructure hampering the movement of feedstock and products. Investors who believe in taking long view are realistic about the challenges, but they also see enormous opportunities in a continent with vast natural resources and one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

Major Economic Opportunities

For the chemical industry and its investors, opportunities in Africa center around three factors:

  1. High growth,
  2. Major oil and gas reserves and
  3. Demand in certain market sectors such as agriculture, consumer products, infrastructure development and construction.


The African economy was expected to grow over 5 percent in 2014, driven by the world’s fastest population growth, increased urbanization and a rapidly expanding middle class.  Approximately 50 percent of Africans are expected to be living in cities by 2030. The rapidly urbanizing populace is an indication of opportunities for investors seeking to invest in Africa. Growth at the lower end of the middle-class pyramid also presents significant investment opportunities.

 Oil Reserves

Along with a wealth of gold, copper, diamonds, chromium and platinum, Africa contains 10 percent of the world’s oil reserves. Proven reserves for Africa have grown by nearly 120 percent in the past 30 years and this growth is expected to continue. African countries now make up 11 out of the top 50 countries in terms of proven oil reserves. Nigeria and Angola are among the top 20 oil producers in the world.

 Demand In Chemical Subsectors

Despite some of these impressive figures, the industrial base in much of Africa remains undeveloped and economic growth is coming from a very low base. As a result, opportunities in the chemical sector are likely to be focused within a small number of subsectors.

Demand for chemicals in the agriculture subsector will continue to grow based on several factors. Africa has 25 percent of the world’s arable land and 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land. Africa’s current low crop yields per hectare represent significant growth opportunities and even with existing cultivated land, a doubling of cereal yields would turn Africa into a major food surplus region. In addition, the agribusiness value chain including storage, logistics, packaging and processing will add more opportunities for investors.

annual crop production growth 2015

sub-saharan africa

Current developments

In 2012, there was over US$50 billion of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa. While energy and natural resource investment was the main area of focus, investment is increasingly being spread across a broader number of sectors than at any time in the past. For the African chemical industry in particular, however, investment remains small scale and generally focused on a small number of segments in a small number of countries. Overall, South Africa remains the most developed economy and, accordingly, has the most developed chemical industry.

South Africa’s chemical industry

South Africa has long been the leader in chemical production for the continent. The chemical industry accounts for about 25 percent of the nation’s manufacturing sales, with synthetic coal and natural gas-based liquid fuels and petrochemicals dominating the sector. South African chemical producers are currently facing poor domestic demand and a volatile exchange rate that hampers exports. The country’s plastic and basic chemicals output declined throughout 2013. Chronic problems include ongoing uncertainty about the outcome of wage negotiations, potential electricity supply shortages and slower growth in consumer spending that is undermining confidence within the petrochemicals sector. Nevertheless, domestic producers have benefitted from both a weak rand, which has sustained competitiveness, and relatively cheaper costs when factoring in transportation of imports, which has helped maintain current production levels.

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