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Power UP: Research for an energy-efficient SA #UPResearchMatters


South Africa’s national electrical grid system is under increasing strain due to aging infrastructure, insufficient maintenance and a lack of real-time monitoring. Several research groups at UP’s Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering (EECE) are working with industry and government to address these challenges by improving energy efficiency and demand side management.

Power UP: Research for an energy-efficient SA #UPResearchMatters


Problem:

From a world class energy infrastructure in the 1980’s, South Africa’s electrical grid has deteriorated steadily to the state it is in today. Failures in generation, transmission and distribution stem from insufficient maintenance of the grid and the power stations generating power. Eskom is struggling to provide electricity to meet South Africa’s residential and commercial demands despite concerted efforts in Demand Side Management (DSM) over the last 15 years.

Not only is the national grid aging, it is also technologically out of date - modern communications technology holds the potential to provide a wealth of data about the state and functioning of the grid and its various components. Beyond the national electricity system, efficiency in electrical systems could be improved in residential, commercial and industrial sectors by reducing wastage, gathering more data and investigating alternative sources of energy for specific tasks.

 

UP Research Solution:

The Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology (EBIT) at University of Pretoria houses several research groups that work on various aspects of electrical energy in collaboration with Eskom, the Department of Energy (DoE) and the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI), as well as a number of private companies. These researchers primarily focus on energy efficiency, DSM, integration of renewable energy and smart grids.

The Centre for New Energy Systems (CNES) focuses particularly on efficiency and DSM aspects for the national grid, as well as on improving energy efficiency for various industrial processes and buildings.

The Power group focuses on integrating renewable energy generation such as wind or photovoltaic power into traditional grids, as well as reducing inefficiency and emissions. This is at all levels, from small energy sources like a home photovoltaic (PV) cell to large sources like a wind energy farm.

Together, these groups are helping to make the national grid safer, more stable and more efficient, guiding the integration of sustainable energy sources and improving the data available to engineers working on the grid. Their research is also improving energy efficiency and reducing waste in homes, buildings and factories around South Africa.

 


Researchers at UP test the efficiency of a solar panel at the EECE in the EBIT Faculty.

 

UP partners with government and private sector to boost SA’s electrical grid

South Africa’s national electrical grid system is under increasing strain due to aging infrastructure and insufficient maintenance. Several research groups at the University of Pretoria’s Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering  (EECE) are working with industry and government to address these challenges.

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Power vs energy vs old age: what’s been plunging SA into the dark?

South Africa’s national electrical grid system is under increasing strain due to aging infrastructure, insufficient maintenance, and a lack of real-time monitoring. This is a palpable contrast to the world-class electrical grid of the 1980s in South Africa. Professor Xiaohua Xia from the University of Pretoria recently completed a report on the current state of SA’s energy research to look for answers to this problem.

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New innovations at UP spark modernisation of SA electrical grid

The South African electrical grid system has gone from the once world-class energy infrastructure of the 1980’s to a steadily deteriorating and barely maintained service today. UP researchers are addressing this by integrating communications and data collection technologies to provide more information on the state of the grid.

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From conveyor belts to insulation, CNES at UP is improving energy efficiency

The Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering (EECE) at the University of Pretoria is home to many important groups dedicated to improving the national electric grid. One such group is the Centre for New Energy Systems (CNES). Headed by Professor Xiaohua Xia, the Centre is geared to improve efficiency in the energy sector in South Africa.

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People involved

Prof Xiaohua Xia
Director of CNES, Director of National Hub for the Postgraduate Programme in Energy Efficiency and Demand Side Management, Exxaro Energy Efficiency Chair
Focus areas: Energy system modelling, optimisation and control, energy efficiency measurement and verification

Prof Ramesh Bansal
Head of Power group, EECE
Focus area: Renewable energy integration

 

Dr Raj Naidoo
Senior Lecturer, EECE
Focus area: Smart grids

Dr Michael Gitau
Associate Professor, EECE
Focus area: Power electronics applications in renewable energy systems

Dr Joel Dabrowski
Senior Lecturer, EECE
Focus area: Smart grids

Dr Xianming Ye
Senior Lecturer, EECE
Focus area: Energy efficiency modelling and optimisation, measurement and verification

Dr Lijun Zhang
Senior Lecturer, EECE, junior Exxaro Energy Efficiency Chair
Focus area: Energy efficiency modelling and optimisation, industrial energy systems

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