Conference addresses urgent needs in energy sector

In his welcoming address at the 66th convention of the Association of Municipal Electricity Utilities (AMEU), Councillor Athol Trollip, executive mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, said the importance of energy cannot be over-estimated as it drives the economy and creates jobs.

The convention, with the theme, “Technical solutions for our changing business model”, was hosted at Port Elizabeth’s Boardwalk Conference Centre from 8 to 10 October 2017.

Trollip noted that conferences focused on improving electrical infrastructure, curbing electricity costs and development of new technologies are very important as society is acutely aware of the need for sustainable, renewable sources of energy, in the light of ever-increasing tariffs which increase companies’ costs and impact their efficiencies.

Jobs, said Trollip, are only created when businesses and factories keep running cost-effectively. He said corruption also results in inefficiencies, and challenged the delegates to focus on integrity, on doing the right thing all the time, as a first principle in their work.

In his keynote address, Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs minister David van Rooyen said municipalities must anticipate challenges in the light of the increasing number of installations of rooftop photovoltaic (PV) panels at residential, commercial and industrial properties. The number of these installations, he said, will continue to increase and some form of regulation might become necessary to protect the municipality’s revenues.

He said a capacity improvement programme, which must include the mentoring and coaching of graduate engineers, should become part of every municipality’s plan for the future. Well-maintained infrastructure results in cost savings. Municipalities can also save money by using locally generated electricity from renewable sources including wind, solar and gas from solid and liquid waste, said Van Rooyen.

A total of 22 papers was presented, covering the change of business models in municipalities; smart-grid security; physical asset management; the impact of small-scale embedded generation on the business of municipalities; innovation and technology disruptors; business sustainability and related challenges facing a typical electricity distributor today, and the importance of health and safety in the workplace.

The AMEU Women in Electricity conducted a round table discussion on the topic, “Promoting and achieving gender equality within the electricity supply and distribution industries”. The panel consisted of Elsie Pule (Eskom), Nelisiwe Magubane (Matleng Energy Solutions), Lebo Mashao (Thurburn), and Sy Gourrah (Actom). It was facilitated by ABB’s Bertha Dlamini.

The event attracted 550 delegates and over 80 exhibitors. The EE Publishers Best Stand Award was won by Schneider Electric (Best Large Stand), Aberdare Cables (Best Medium-sized Stand), and Nugen Energy (Best Small Stand).

The AMEU executive awarded honorary memberships to Stan Bridgens, Sicelo Xulu and Dawie van Niekerk. Branch membership was bestowed upon Roelof du Toit and Kevin David Groenewald.

The AMEU Best Paper Award was shared by Aurelie Ferry of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) for her paper, “The role of South African municipalities in renewable energy: a review of business models”, and Digsilent’s Geeven Moodley, for his paper, “Impact of commercial/industrial SSEG installations in MV networks”.

The next AMEU Convention is scheduled to be held at the CSIR conference centre, in Tshwane, during October 2018.


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Source: EE plublishers

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