British CHP plant exported to Africa

An 18 MW CHP plant located in Bury, UK is being dismantled and moved to Newcastle, KwaZulu- Natal in South Africa, by new power plant developer IPSA.

The plant will be reconstructed as the first of three electricity generation projects the company has planned so far in South Africa. IPSA has been established to develop, own and operate power plants in South Africa and neighbouring countries against a backdrop of accelerating demand and predicted supply shortfalls. In South Africa itself, demand for electricity is expected to outstrip supply by the end of 2006, says IPSA.

State-owned Eskom currently generates 95% of the electricity supply in South Africa, and it is government policy that 30% of new capacity over the next five years should come from independent producers – equivalent to more than 1600 MW. Countries such as Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland are traditionally reliant on South Africa supplying a significant proportion of their electricity demand, and are also likely to be hit by its shortfalls.

The company has initially targeted specific projects in South Africa and Swaziland, and has three active projects under varying stages of development. They are all based on building ‘inside the fence’ CHP plants with a nominal capacity of up to 100 MWe, primarily gas-fired and producing both heat/steam and electricity for dedicated industrial users. The first plant will supply a synthetic rubber manufacturer, Karbochem, at Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal. Key agreements are in place for steam sales and gas supply.

The company believes that in the medium term there will be opportunities for the sale of power to Eskom from newly developed power plants and the development of power ‘islands’ serving large industrial consumers of electricity.

Arctic sea ice is in dramatic decline due to global climate change – according to recent data released by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). For the fourth consecutive year, NSIDC and NASA scientists have, using satellite data, tracked a ‘stunning’ reduction in the extent of Arctic sea ice at the end of the northern summer. The persistence of nearrecord low extents has led the group to conclude that Arctic sea ice is likely to be on an accelerating, long-term decline.

‘Considering the record-low amounts of sea ice this year leading up to the month of September, 2005 will almost certainly surpass 2002 as the lowest amount of ice cover in more than a century,’ said Julienne Stroeve of NSIDC. If current rates of decline in sea ice continue, the summertime Arctic could be completely ice-free well before the end of this century.

Arctic sea ice extent, or the area of ocean that is covered by at least 15% ice, typically reaches its minimum in September, at the end of the summer melt season. In September 2005, the five-dayrunning mean sea ice extent dropped to 5.3 million km2, the lowest extent ever observed during the satellite record, says NSIDC. This record covers the period 1978 to the present. A recent assessment of trends throughout the past century indicates that the current decline also exceeds past low-ice periods in the 1930s and 1940.

For the period 1979–2001, before the recent series of low extents, the rate of September decline was around 6.5% per decade; with 2005 data this has accelerated to 8% per decade, and all four years since 2001 have ice extents approximately 20% less than the 1978 through 2000 average. This decline in sea ice amounts to approximately 1.3 million km2, an area roughly equivalent to twice the size of Texas, adds the Center.

With four consecutive years of low summer ice extent, confidence is strengthening that a long-term decline is underway. Walt Meier of NSIDC said, ‘Having four years in a row with such low ice extents has never been seen before in the satellite record. It clearly indicates a downward trend, not just a short-term anomaly.’

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