Science Stars Energy Issue

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ENERGY

ISSUE 2021


CSIR BURSARY PROGRAMME: CALL FOR 2022 INTAKE The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is a leading scientific and technology research organisation that researches, develops, localises and diffuses technologies to accelerate socioeconomic prosperity in South Africa. The organisation’s work contributes to industrial development and supports a capable state.

ING S CLO E: DAT

ABOUT THE BURSARY

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Throughout history, science has had a critical role to play in contributing towards societal progress and prosperity. Organisations such as the CSIR have an important role to play in advancing science and innovation. Armed with some of the best minds in the world, we work on trying to solve problems that can help all South Africans.

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The CSIR hereby invites applications from students wishing to pursue a career in research, technology development and innovation as well as corporate/support areas.

THE CSIR BURSARY PROGRAMME IS OPEN TO ACADEMICALLY QUALIFYING YOUNG PEOPLE AND ALSO AIMS TO ATTRACT AND INCREASE PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN AND BLACK PEOPLE IN SCIENCE, ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY, SPECIFICALLY IN THE AREAS MENTIONED BELOW: 1. UNDERGRAD – HONOURS DEGREES • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Aeronautical Engineering Industrial Physics Applied Physics Bio-Informatics Biological Sciences Biomedical Engineering Biotechnology Chemical Engineering Chemistry with Chemical Engineering Civil Engineering Computer Engineering Computer Science Computer Science with Chemistry

• • • • • • • • • • • •

Data Science/Modelling Electronic/Software Engineering Industrial Engineering Information Technology Material Science Mechanical Engineering Mechatronics Engineering Physical Metallurgy Physics with Computer Science Economic Science Information Systems Extractive Metallurgy (Hydrometallurgy), (Pyromet)

2. UNDERGRAD – HONOURS DEGREES (CORPORATE/SUPPORT) • B Com/BTech in Accounting or Risk Management 3. MASTER’S DEGREE AND DOCTORAL DEGREES For a comprehensive list of master’s and doctoral degrees covered, please visit www.csir.co.za/bursaries

The CSIR is an equal opportunity employer. As such, it is committed to the Employment Equity Act, 1998 (Act 55 of 1998). By applying for this position at the CSIR, the applicant understands, and consents that the CSIR may solicit a credit and criminal report from a registered credit bureau and/or SAPS (in relation to positions that require trust and honesty and/or entail the handling of cash or finances) and may also verify the applicant’s educational qualifications and employment history. The CSIR reserves the right to remove the advertisement at any time before the stated closing date and it further reserves the right not to appoint if a suitable candidate is not identified.

science & innovation Department: Science and Innovation REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA


THIS IS A COMPREHENSIVE BURSARY AND IT COVERS ALL THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH UNIVERSITY STUDIES, SUCH AS: • • • • • •

Registration fees Tuition fees Books Accommodation Living allowances Once off laptop allowance

Academic merit will be considered during the selection process, as well as the imperative to increase the participation of women and black people in science, engineering and technology. REQUIREMENTS: • • • •

Must be a South African Citizen Planning to enrol full-time at a South African University for 2022 For current grade 12 students, English Level 5, Mathematics Level 6 and Physics Level 6 For students currently at universities, must have passed all the courses for which you have registered for at the university for the study period already completed

YOUR APPLICATION MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENTS: • • • •

Application letter stating the field of study you are applying for; An updated CV; A copy of your certified identity document; and A copy of your latest academic record.

FAILURE TO ATTACH THESE DOCUMENTS WILL RESULT IN YOUR APPLICATION BEING NULL AND VOID. APPLICANTS APPLYING FOR MASTERS AND DOCTORAL BURSARIES SHOULD BE SOUTH AFRICAN CITIZENS WHO POSSESS THE FOLLOWING: • • • • • • •

Good scientific writing skills; Good organisational and time management skills; Excellent academic record; A drive to conduct research, self-motivation and the ability to work independently and within a team are essential; The ability to formulate and carry out research; Excellent technical abilities; The ability to work well under pressure as part of a team and meet scheduled deliverables; Good communication skills both verbal and writing (e.g. with evidence of report and/or conference papers writing); and • Good report writing abilities. Furthermore, the ideal candidate is an enthusiastic and self-motivated individual who takes ownership and initiative. He/she must also meet the entry requirements for an undergraduate/honours’ bursary at the selected university.

NB: PLEASE NOTE THAT APPLICATIONS MUST BE FOR FULL-TIME STUDIES TOWARDS AN ACADEMIC DEGREE AT AN ACCREDITED PUBLIC SOUTH AFRICAN UNIVERSITY.

TO APPLY, PLEASE VISIT WWW.CSIR.CO.ZA/BURSARIES

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT THE CSIR RECRUITMENT CENTRE ON 012 842 7518 OR EMAIL US AT Bursaryprogramme@csir.co.za. PLEASE DO NOT SEND YOUR APPLICATION TO THIS MAILBOX, IT IS MEANT FOR ENQUIRIES ONLY.


FEATURES

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the energy effect

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introducing energy types

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making the switch

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a new tvet college

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see the vuwani science centre

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dsi hydrogen fuel cell tech

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peek inside a solar–powered home

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profile: local organisation, access

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Profile: on Ridaa Manuel

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the top 5 countries

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eaas Workshop

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try this diy experiment

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22 team Science Stars

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Editor • Shani Tsai Graphic designer • Stacey Swartz Contributing writers • Zakiyah Ebrahim • Chireez Fredericks • Lusanda Tamesi • Mukosi Fulufhelo • Unathi Kondile

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Chairman • Madambi Rambuda Ambassador • Prof. Azwindinni Muronga Subscriptions • info@sciencestars.co.za

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Copyright 2021 Science Stars Pty Ltd. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or any means, electronically or mechanically, without prior permission. Science Stars is published by Science Stars Pty Ltd

REGULARS

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COVER STORY

SCIENCE NEWS

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CAREERS and bursaries

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puzzles

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facts

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quiz

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science centre

1 Bridgeway, Century City, Cape Town, 7441 +27 21 830 5200 info@sciencestars.co.za www.sciencestars.co.za


COVER FEATURE

THE FUTURE OF

IT’S THE WAY TO GO, BUT IS READY TO LEAVE OLD FORMS BEHIND TO PURSUE RENEWABLE By: Chireez Fredericks

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t is no secret that global warming is on the rise and that a change needs to be made if we want to preserve the health and safety of our planet. All around the world, the idea of renewable energy as a primary energy source has begun to gain traction and this may just be the key needed to combat the ever-growing issue of climate change. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), renewable energy resources make up 26% of the world’s electricity today. However, it is expected to reach 30% by 2024. But what exactly is renewable energy and why should we care? Renewable energy is generated from natural resources that have the ability to replenish themselves. That is, they never run out. The most common examples of these natural sources are solar (harnessing the radiant light and heat from the sun), wind (using windmills or wind turbines to harness the wind), hydropower (energy that uses the power of water in motion), geothermal power (heat that comes from the sub-surface of the earth) and biomass (renewable organic material that comes from plants and animals). (More on this on page 10.)

pollution emitted by coal and natural gas plants have been linked not only to cancer, heart attacks breathing problems and neurological damage but also to premature death. What are the costs involved? Once built, renewable energy-generating facilities cost very little to operate and because the source of the energy is free (the shining sun or blowing wind), and as a result the renewable energy prices tend to become more affordable and remain stable over time. That is, its prices do not fluctuate with unexpected economic changes or political challenges because access to the natural energy source is not limited or controlled by governments and businesses. The largest part of renewable energy investments is spent on the materials and workmanship that is needed to build and maintain renewable energy-generating facilities. This means job creation, skills development and investment for local communities.

Currently, the use of fossil fuels is one of the largest contributors to global warming as it releases significant amounts of greenhouse gases that negatively affect the earth’s ozone layer. Unlike these hazardous fossil fuels, most sources of renewable energy result in little to no greenhouse gas emissions and this makes renewable energy a lot more ecofriendly than fossil fuels.

While renewable energy becomes accessible in many parts of the world, we see the costs continue to decline, especially for cities in the developing world. As more and more businesses invest in renewable sources in order to avoid energy disruptions, it allows urban energy infrastructure to become independent from remote sources and local grids. Renewable energy is, therefore, the only way to expand energy access to all inhabitants, particularly those living in urban slums, informal settlements and in suburban and peri-urban areas.

Renewable energy can also decrease pollution and can therefore reduce threats to our health. This is because the

The effect of Covid-19 According to an article written by Nelson Mojarro, an advisory

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COVER FEATURE

CLEAN ENERGY

THE WORLD OF ENERGY TYPES ONLY? board member of Partnering for Sustainable Energy Innovation at the World Economic Forum and former vice-chair committee of Energy Research and Technology, IEA Covid-19 has brought the generation of energy from fossil fuels to breaking point. As the lockdown measures were introduced, global energy demand dropped precipitously at levels not seen in 70 years. This is not the first time the world has gone through an energy crises but this one is different because it is demand-led. The scale of the fall in demand, the speed of change, and how widespread it has been, have all generated a radical shift that seems to be more than a temporary shortterm drop in demand for fossil fuels, at least in the power sector. With the fall in energy demand, many countries began to use more renewable resources like wind and solar as sources for electricity. As the crisis hit, grid operators sought the cheapest and cleanest supply source to balance the lower demand. Therefore, the low demand in electricity increased the share of cost-effective renewables while sending the more polluting and expensive carbon fuels to the back of the queue. Covid19 has been a game-changing effect in accelerating the clean energy transition in the power sector.

energy for later use, they are often very costly. According to a National Geographic article published in September 2021, building wind farms and dams can disrupt wildlife and migration patterns and lead to ecological destruction. It is evident, then, that while renewable energy offers environmentally friendly alternatives to the greenhouse gas emissions and pollution of fossil fuels, careful consideration will need to be made on how and where to build these renewable energy-generating facilities, without affecting existing animal and plant life. As advantages in technology make renewable energy more accessible, affordable and efficient, an end to climate change could be within our reach. What does Africa’s energy future look like 20 years from now? According to a February 2021 Cape Talk interview with Bhavtik Vallabhjee, head of power, utilities and infrastructure at Absa Corporate and Investment Banking, “The future of energy is really bright from a renewable energy perspective.” As our African landscape of energy moves away from coal to wind and solar as an energy source, Vallabhjee believes that investing in the tools needed to generate and distribute renewable energy is a good idea and “makes for a green future going forward”.

While renewable energy has many advantages, there are numerous disadvantages that one needs to consider too. Not only is it difficult for renewable energy sources to generate energy on the same large-scale level as fossil fuels, but both solar and wind energy are intermittent; meaning they only generate power while the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, and although there are batteries that can store excess Science Stars Energy Issue | www.sciencestars.co.za

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EFFECTS

THE ENERGY EFFECT

CAN SOUTH AFRICA BEAT THE CURRENT ENERGY CRISIS? By: Lusanda Tamesi

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outh Africa’s electricity crisis started in January 2008, where more than 20% of the country’s electricity generating capacity was out of commission, a crisis that left the country with a ‘candlelit’ experience. Although experts in the field had known for years that South Africa was running out of power supply, our collective wound was reopened when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. A staggering 10% of our population density has no access to electricity. Residents of ‘Covid’, a new densely populated informal residential area in Delft, Cape Town, gave us some insight into how their living conditions are. “When I sit in a taxi, I notice I smell bad and it’s because of the flame stove I use,” said one resident. According to Covid residents, candles and gas stoves have been part of their livelihood since the place was established. This informal settlement has live wires from a power grid of illegal power connections that explode when there are downpours. Fezile Nxesi, who’s currently pursuing his studies in Mechatronics at the University of Western Cape (UWC), is certain that there is a future in green energy. Systems that are implemented to produce renewable energy are being produced in large quantities and these include solar and wind projects. Load shedding has a negative impact on almost all important daily needs of people and all critical systems in our environment and in industries. Since physical systems fundamentally rely on energy to operate, a shortage of energy supply has a direct negative impact on the development of the country’s economy. Nxesi says that, regarding the green energy future of South Africa, a shift to a low-carbon economy is necessary as the country does not have to rely on large amounts of fossil fuel, as other advanced economies do. He adds that engineering students need to work with relevant professionals to implement security systems to work against corruption since corruption is the root course of many development problems.

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NEWS

MAKING HEADLINES AI at your service

The world is slowly returning to normal, albeit a normal we don’t recongise. As tourism starts picking up again with local accommodations offering a new form of travel (hello, staycation!), we may be seeing a rise in new, exciting attractions. One such launch is the AI-powered robots at the new Hotel Sky in Cape Town’s CBD. Visitors are called to download the hotel’s app that will allow you to control certain parts of your stay, from checking in to ordering room service. The robots (AKA concierge service) are there to answer your questions. Alexa, book my stay now!

Get your geek on

As Africa’s largest computer science non-profit organisation (NPO), Africa Teen Geeks aims to train people from lower-income areas in computer science with the end goal of having them then share their knowledge with those in the community. The programme and its digital school even welcomes those who have never even worked on a computer before. The NPO has also set aside additional resources to empower girls in STEM with their coding classes. Visit africateengeeks.co.za for more information on these free classes.

Teacher’s pet

As the global spotlight remains on the health of our oceans and the devastation that plastics bring, we can be extremely proud of local documentary My Octopus Teacher. Not only did it win an Academy Award for Best Documentary, it shows the world the beauty of the underwater world. Here’s to hoping we can all do our bit to save the oceans – by declining one plastic straw at a time!

More on Mars

After four successful flights on Mars, the NASA helicopter called Ingenuity has been trusted with an extended mission. Ingenuity will now stay an extra 30 Mars days (or Sols, which are about 40 minutes longer than our days here on Earth). The aim is to see if controlled flying is possible on the planet. Return flights to Mars, here we come!

Science Stars Energy Issue | www.sciencestars.co.za

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TYPES

RENEWABLE ENERGY TYPES

LET’S TAKE A DEEPER LOOK AT THE DIFFERENT WAYS OF GENERATING ENERGY. By: Chireez Fredericks

By supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency measures, The South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) suggests that South Africa will foster a greener economy. We learn more about the types that are currently being explored in the country. Go solar Solar energy is one of the most commonly used renewable energies as it is derived by capturing radiant energy from sunlight. This sunlight is then converted into heat, electricity, or hot water! Solar energy could render fossil fuels obsolete as one of the benefits of solar energy is that sunlight is functionally endless. According to Thomas Hugo, a sustainability engineer & energy modeller from Ecolution Consulting, although solar energy will save us money in the long run, there tends to be a significant upfront cost and it is an unrealistic expense for most households. For personal homes, homeowners also need to have ample sunlight and sufficient space to arrange their solar panels, and this in turn limits who can realistically adopt this technology at an individual level. Winding up Wind farms capture the energy of wind flow by using turbines and converting it into electricity. Investment in wind energy technology can also open new avenues for jobs and job training, as the turbines on farms need to be serviced and maintained to keep running. However, according to The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), wind energy often needs to be transported via transition lines which are very costly as wind farms tend to be built in rural or remote

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areas, far from the cities where the electricity is needed most. Although wind turbines produce very little pollution, they may threaten local wildlife like birds, which are sometimes killed when striking the arms of the turbine while flying. Hydro hero Dams are what people most associate hydroelectric power with. Water flows through the dam’s turbines to produce electricity known as “pumped-storage hydropower”. Although hydroelectric power does not pollute the air, it disrupts waterways and negatively affects the animals that live in them, changing water levels, currents and migration paths for many fish and other freshwater ecosystems. Heating up Geothermal heat is heat that is trapped beneath the earth’s crust from the formation of the earth 4.5 billion years ago, and its radioactive decay. We can produce geothermal energy by capturing this heat and making use of the steam that comes off the heated water that pumps below the surface, which then rises to the top of the earth surface and can be used to operate a turbine. Geothermal energy is not as common as other types of renewable energy sources, but it has a significant potential for energy supply. Cost plays a major role when it comes to the disadvantages of geothermal energy. Not only is it costly to build the infrastructure, another major concern is its vulnerability to earthquakes in certain regions of the world. Wave wonders Dr James Joubert, sustainability engineer & energy modeller at Ecolution Consulting, states that wave energy is, in essence,


TYPES

a concentrated form of solar energy. The sun heats the atmosphere, thus creating a wind that blows over the ocean surface and creates waves. Mankind has been trying to harness the energy of waves for many years, but the ocean environment is hostile, corrosive and an expensive place to build and install complex machines. It is expected that wave energy will be contributing significantly to certain niche markets such as island communities, desalination and aquaculture in the next few years. Turn the tide Tidal energy, on the other hand, is a result of the attraction force of the moon and sun on the earth and the ocean. It is highly predictable, with one being able to know the expected tidal range many years into the future. The largest and most successful examples of tidal energy generation are in Korea and France with their use of tidal barrage technology. There are limited available sites in the world for this kind of technology and it has a big environmental impact because tidal energy systems are built in an estuaries, which are sensitive and important ecosystems. Biomass benefits Biomass is organic matter that comes from living plants and organisms. An example of biomass that most people are familiar with is the wood used in a home fireplace. There are various ways in which one can generate biomass, such as burning biomass or harnessing methane gas which is produced by the natural decomposition of organic materials in ponds and landfills. The use of biomass in energy production releases carbon dioxide that is then consumed by regenerating plants. This is believed to create a balanced atmosphere. There are numerous ways to make use of biomass in our daily lives, not only for personal use but for businesses as well. However, despite new plants needing carbon dioxide to grow, their growth is a long process and biomass energy cannot compete with larger fossil fuel plants that are able to produce energy more rapidly.

Did you know? André Harms – founder, director and sustainability engineer at Ecolution Consulting – suggests we also take into consideration the space and land needed to harness the energy from these various renewable sources. Making use of existing spaces and constructing spaces rather than just taking up land is the future-first kind of thinking needed in the developing world of renewable energy. An example of these existing spaces could be solar roofing panel technologies currently being explored by Solarcity and Tessla.

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IN USE

MAKING THE CLEAN SWITCH ENERGY IS A WIN FOR A ALL – FROM HOUSEHOLDS TO LARGE, SUCCESSFUL COMPANIES. WE TAKE A QUICK LOOK AT SOME.

s the world grows more conscious about the negative impact of our lifestyles on the environment, ceaseless efforts have been made by academics and the civil community to find ways to lower human degradation of the environment. Switching to renewable energy is the most preached solution. In South Africa, there are many households and big companies already using these renewable energy sources for their daily functions. Is it achievable for everyone? Clean energy in the house Dr David Tinarwo from The University of Venda (Univen) has done extensive research over a couple of years about how rural, low-income communities could use renewable energy. The biggest problem in Vhembe district, Limpopo, where his studies are based was excess usage of firewood for cooking and water heating. His studies lead to introduction of biogas digesters to some low-income households in the district. We follow one of his studies that evaluates how viable digesters are in households. A biogas digester uses organic waste to produce biogas, a methane-rich gas. It is a tank built into the ground with two sealed openings on the top. The openings lead to two underground chambers, one to store the waste fed to the digester and one for the biogas produced.

By: Mukosi Fulu

Households can use biogas for cooking, space heating and water heating. For these functions, a household would need a biogas that would be fed 5000 L of substrate (water and waste mixture) per day. Unfortunately, a single, average household cannot produce that much waste or obtain that much dung so a community digester is recommended. When it comes to installation, however, digesters are affordable. Acting general manager of Limpopo Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (Ledet), Lilly Maja, compares the affordability to building a toilet. There is obviously still a lot of research to be done to improve practicality of a biogas digester, but it promises to rid the villages of burning wood for fire through community digesters.

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IN USE

Make it your business Keith Browne, the electronics engineer at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), tells us about the effectiveness of SALT's switch to solar energy. What are the costs of switching to solar energy? "That is difficult to say because costs are coming down all the time and seeing as the components are imported, it is highly dependent on the exchange rate. For a grid-tied solar system like ours, maintenance is minimal. The panels get cleaned every three months and tested for electrical integrity." Considering the performance so far, is using solar energy viable, effective and practical? "On viability – Any renewable installation should be considered prepaid electricity. You put down the capital based on an expected kWh that the system will produce. For us, the system will pay for itself in five years. That calculation was based on Eskom increases of 8% per annum. I do believe the last increase was more than that so we expect payback sooner. In the meantime, it helps to reduce the monthly running costs of the telescope. On effectiveness – Yes, we pay less for electricity every month now. Our system doesn't cover the full load of the telescope, though – only about a third during the daytime operations. We are on a TOU tariff so the electricity used at peak times and during the day is more expensive than the electricity used at night. During the day, we have a large cooling load to condition the telescope for nighttime use and the solar installation offsets that energy. On practicality – Being in the desert, between the winter rainfall and summer rainfall, regions having a cool climate and high altitude gives us a good solar resource so it's very practical."

Science Stars Energy Issue | www.sciencestars.co.za

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TRENDING TOPIC TVET

LET’S TALK TVET

THE NORTHERN CAPE GETS A NEW TVET COLLEGE.

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he frequent narrative is that young people think TVET education is a minimum education. The truth is, the biggest benefit of attending a TVET college is the high focus on the employability of students where part of the curriculum requires students to complete experiential training (internships and apprenticeships) to help build up a CV that can help them land a job. The launch of the Renewable Energy Centre of Excellence (RECE) at the Northern Cape Rural TVET College is a much-welcomed one. With international partnerships, such as the Ferrara and the Bologna universities in Italy, the education and training will be internationally benchmarked against best practices. The Energy & Water Sector Education Training Authority (EWSETA) has partnered with the world's largest renewable energy research centre, the National Renewable Energies Centre (CENER) in Spain. This partnership plays a significant role in research and development of green skills at Northern Cape rural campuses. The facilities give hope to technical ways that we can address climate change. This is an entry point that will offer better economic empowerment of the solar industry. Since the Northern Cape has favourable weather conditions for solar energy, a skilled workforce is vital for the unique opportunity that the centre offers. With the unemployment rate in South Africa rising over 30%, the centre is focused on preparing students to become functional workers and ensuring skilled trained youth. The RECE grants students the opportunity to find their own technical solutions as well as install, maintain and test systems. It also raises awareness and offers full-time vocational training to ensure a successful transition to a green economy.

By: Lusanda Tamesi

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TVET

TEACHING ENERGY WE HEAD TO THE VUWANI SCIENCE CENTRE TO SEE THEIR CURRENT PROJECTS. By: Mukosi Fulu

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he primary objective of a science centre is to communicate science to its surrounding towns and villages. In South Africa, there are several centres in each province. They feature different projects and fun exhibitions that help visitors enjoy the simplicity and applications of science. Today, the world is focused on finding ways to reduce climate change. There is more funding being put towards studies and research on this topic. This is because society understands the importance of finding efficient, accessible and viable solutions and alternatives to the problem of climate change. Studies have argued that switching to clean renewable sources of energy will reduce this effect. Dr NE Maluta from the University of Venda is the manager of the Vuwani Science Centre that is an entity of the university. His extensive work on renewable energy has brought about the projects at the centre that serve the community for educational and research purposes. What renewable energy projects can be found at the centre Dr Maluta was happy to talk about four projects hosted at the centre that monitor the environment and use renewable energy. These projects have been great tools to communicate to the community – including learners, teachers and the centre visitors – about climate change, renewable energy and opportunities in the field. The projects are: a PV plant (5kW) which produces electricity; PV technology comparison station; Mini Weather Station (SAURAN); Eddy Flux Covariance measurement tower. Project 1: The PV plant Ever heard of a Photovoltaic (PV) cell? It's just a fancy (or rather, scientific) name for a solar cell. A PV plant uses solar energy to generate electricity. The PV system uses cells to convert solar energy directly into electricity. A single photovoltaic cell typically only generates about two watts, however, an array of solar panels connected can generate hundreds or even thousands of kilowatts of electric power. Consequently, the 5kW PV plant at Vuwani Science Centre (made up of six solar panels) generates enough electricity to support the centre. Projetc 2: PV technology comparison station To find the most efficient of technologies, comparison is necessary. If electricity generation through PV is to replace

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TVET

the energy source we are currently using, it must be efficient and so comparison is necessary. The technology comparison stations compare the outdoor performance of the Cadmium (Cd) and Silicon (Si) Solar cells in the inland region. The station is meant for research in collaboration with Nelson Mandela University, where they compare the performance of this technology in the coastal region. The PV at Vuwani Science centre is Silicone-based which is currently the leading technology on the market. Project 3: SAURAN mini weather station A mini weather station does virtually what a regular weather station does, just on a micro-scale. The Southern African Universities Radiometric Network (SAURAN) mini weather station at Vuwani Science Centre measures different atmospheric parameters, such as temperature, rainfall, solar radiation and wind speed. The station is meant for research on climate change and monitoring the changes related to different parameters. Some students from the University of Venda have used data from SAURAN mini weather stations for their research projects. Project 4: Eddy covariance flux measurement tower To monitor the carbon cycle from human activities and a few animals around Vuwani, the science centre is equipped with an Eddy covariance (EC) flux tower. The tower in Vuwani is one of the six Eddy covariance flux towers that form the central observation sites to the interdisciplinary ARS AfricaE (20142018) and EMSAfrica (2018-2021) projects. The towers perform long-term monitoring of carbon and water cycles along an aridity gradient and under different conditions. Solar energy is currently the best alternative to fossil fuels. However, more studies and research for improvement must still be done to get us to the point where we can completely topple over electricity generation from coal and other fossil fuels. This makes renewable energy a great career field with plenty of opportunities. Through science communication from entities like Vuwani Science Centre, we can spread the information about renewable energy and get more young minds to join in on a venture that will serve our planet well. Science Stars Energy Issue | www.sciencestars.co.za

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PROFILE

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write this in the dark. Our old friend loadshedding is back. South Africa's energy provider did warn us ahead of time. But, do we really have to endure all these power outages? Is there really no alternative solution? Other forms of energy like hydrogen fuel cell technology is a very real alternative energy source.

FUELING HER FUTURE MEET A STUDENT WHO STUDIED THE SIX-WEEK DSI HYDROGEN FUEL CELL TECH PROGRAMME. By: Unathi Kondile

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"The problem is that hydrogen cell technology is still new here and this means that it is very expensive to produce. You have to also look at having the actual installation capital to start with," says Virginia Nompumelelo Ndala, who recently completed a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology programme at Tshwane North TVET College. Ndala, 27, grew up in the dusty township of Hammanskraal where she attended Lefofa Primary School and later matriculated in 2011 at Sikhululekile Secondary School. She was raised by her grandparents whilst her mother worked as a cashier at the Atteridgeville Swimming Pool. It was her grandfather who kept on motivating her to strive for the best. So, it was little surprise to find a young Ndala dreaming of being an auto electrician. "I was fascinated by cars; how they work and how you can actually maintain a car youself. For me that was very interesting and I wanted to work with cars from a very young age," adds Ndala, who is currently in the process of setting up her own motor spraying workshop in Hammanskraal. It was in Grade 10 that she really took a liking to Maths and Science. Looking back it was a wise decision as she excelled in her studies at a tertiary level. Ndala went on to obtain a N6 in Electrical Engineering with two distinctions in Power Machines and Industrial Electronics from Tshwane TVET North College. Apart from being a trained electrical engineer, she also got the opportunity to study Refrigeration and Airconditioning via the Samsung Academy in 2017. Ndala went on to work as a production assistant at a light production company but due to the Covid-19 lockdown, the company had to cut jobs and she was sadly retrenched. Never one to loose hope, Ndala stayed positive. In September last year, during Level 1 of the lockdown, she took on the opportunity to go back to Tshwane


PROFILE

North TVET college to learn about a new hydrogen fuel cell technology. The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) partnered with Bambili Energy, the South African National Energy Development Institute, and the Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority to present the six-week course to unemployed TVET graduates with N4 or N6-level qualifications in electrical and chemical engineering. "The HySA programme is shifting its focus from research, development and innovation to address manufacturing capability. To support the manufacturing and deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in South Africa," said a statement from the DSI. "The course started in November 2020 and was run over a period of six weeks," says Ndala. "At the time, I knew nothing about hydrogen fuel cell technology but was curious. I googled it and wanted to know more!" Ndala found the course to be very useful as she was introduced to different types of renewable energy. "We learnt about fuel cells, basic house wiring, basic computer literacy, firefighting and first aid," she adds. In the next five to ten years it is hoped that hydrogen fuel cells, combined with renewable energies such as solar and wind power, are set to grow in the country. With that growth we might even see Eskom affording such systems as well; either by acting as a back-up or alternative power source in South Africa. The future for Ndala? Apart from running her own motor workshop, she still hopes to go back into a corporate company where she can work as an occupational health and safety officer. "Having worked in these engineering environments I have also come to realise the importance of safety in the workplace; from your protective equipment to your mental health and generally working in a health workplace. I now think that is where my future lies. Overseeing the health aspects of our engineering world."

Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology can solve our energy problems

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INNOVATION

HOUSING GREAT GREEN IDEAS A TEAM OF RECENT GRADUATES AND YOUNG AFRICAN PROFESSIONALS DESIGNED AN AWARD-WINNING ‘CLEAN GREEN HOME’ FOR UNDER R180 000. HERE’S HOW THEY DID IT. By: Zakiyah Ebrahim

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highly energy efficient house designed by a team of innovative individuals from Stellenbosch University and the University of Cape Town incorporates solar power, passive cooling, rainwater harvesting and a food garden – all at an affordable price – and that could help reduce the nation's carbon footprint. The 40sqm house, which has a net zero carbon footprint (in other words, it produces no carbon emissions), utilises renewable energy and recyclable materials for construction such as timber pallets and recycled shipping containers. It contains a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and an office nook, which are centred around a cosy, open-space social area – reminiscent of a ‘kraal’. According to Ranald Boydell, a lecturer in sustainable development who wrote an article for the Conversation, houses currently account for about 28% of all carbon emissions worldwide. Half of this comes from energy used for heating and air-conditioning. But it is possible for houses to be built to zero-carbon standards in a cost-effective way, he said. The ‘Mahali Hub’, as it’s known, is the perfect example of this. We chatted to the group about their journey to creating this 100% habitable, self-sufficient and sustainable home. On the name ‘Team Mahali’ Mahali means ‘place’ in Swahili, founder of the team, Sharné Bloem told Science Stars. She explained that the name speaks to their passion and commitment towards a socially inclusive and environmentally regenerative future, as well as to a resilient habitat in a sustainable urban form – and within the African context. The team was formed in 2018 and comprises individuals from South Africa, the DRC, Kenya, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Nigeria. The team members, who have diverse professional and educational backgrounds, include Sharné Bloem (architecture & project management); Shawn Alimohammadi (social entrepreneurship); Vikash Parbhoo (architecture); Wimbayi Kadzere (architecture); Ilyaas Ravat 20

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(construction); Natheera Ravat (electrical engineering); Argon Poorun (energy consulting); Yumna Parker (urban systems); and Abiola Kehinde (mechanical engineering). On coming up with the idea “Our inspiration was drawn from a nature-inspired idea, the workings of a tree,” says Bloem. “If you consider a tree, it generates energy through its leaves; it channels rainwater to its root system; it provides shade; and it is the perfect place to gather under – especially in a sunny continent like Africa.” The same concept was considered for Mahali Hub, as it was inspired by the key elements of a tree, she added. How it works The solar photovoltaic (PV) over generates the electricity for the house, while the rainwater is harvested in storage bladders to be used in the food system, explains Bloem. The structure over and around creates passive protection from the African sun, which, in turn, creates the best indoor-outdoor living area by utilising a courtyard typology. The design took a few weeks to populate and the construction process was a tight 10 days, she says. Winning an award The team’s concept recently won first prize in the City of Cape Town and the Green Building Council South Africa's (GBCSA) design competition. The competition challenged entrants to design a net zero carbon home for under R180 000. Team Mahali achieved this by sourcing materials locally, making use of temporary foundations and upcycling many items. The home was displayed in March 2021 at Green Point Urban Park in Cape Town and the City of Cape Town’s website offers an incredible virtual tour of the space. Bloem explains that the team sought to design a creative space that was conducive for tackling the current social, environmental and economic challenges of our time, within our African context. “And we are keen to play our role in the industry going forward,” she added.


INNOVATION

In late 2020, the team also claimed second place in the architecture category of the Solar Decathlon Africa in Morocco, an international design competition that challenged students to design and build sustainable houses powered solely by the sun. Their solar-powered modular home was erected in a solar village in Benguerir, north of Marrakesh. Looking ahead Team Mahali remains intact and has a drive to tackle other projects within the sustainability space, demonstrating what a futuristic post-fossil fuel community could look like. They are currently involved in some residential, eco-tourism and bespoke upcycled furniture projects, Bloem says. Ultimately, their collective vision remains the same: to address intergenerational issues of social inequality and environmental destruction, while driving for sustainable futures. “We hope to take on whatever projects the world presents us, whether it is residential housing, commercial developments, entrepreneurial hubs, or social-ecological education centres for schools,” she says. To read more about the team and keep up with the work they’re doing, visit mahali.org.za or follow them on Facebook or Instagram (@teammahali).

From the team

Some of the Mahali Hub members expressed what it felt like to win the competition. "I felt confident going in that we had good chances given our track record and diversity of expertise on the team. Still, when the news broke I was elated because it was really competitive and surreal to take part in an event of this nature in my hometown. There was an immense pride at seeing the house up in the park and for us, this is no doubt just the beginning." – Argon Poorun "It felt amazing to win and be recognised for all the efforts we have been striving towards with the sustainability field. Additionally, getting the opportunity to build it and showcase our story was in itself a great achievement. While responding to the tight budget was the challenge, we enjoyed coming up with upcycling ideas to reduce the cost – something we encourage people to explore within construction." – Wimbayi Kadzere “I was extremely proud and impressed by the achievement. It was an incredible feeling knowing that all the hard work put into a short time frame paid off so much.” – Yumna Parker “For me, winning the competition made my prayers come true. Being a student, finishing my studies in sustainable development, I was looking for a way to apply my knowledge. The team has been working hard and this moment signified a turning point.” – Shawn Alimohammadi

Did you know? Times Live reported that four South African cities – eThekwini, Tshwane, Johannesburg and Cape Town – have recently joined the C40 cities net zero carbon by 2050 initiative. The aim is to reach net zero carbon for all new buildings by 2030 and all buildings by 2050. Science Stars Energy Issue | www.sciencestars.co.za

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ORGANISATION

ACCESS TO A BETTER PLANET WE TAKE A LOOK AT HOW A LOCAL ORGANISATION IS MAKING THE EARTH A HEALTHIER PLACE. By: Mukosi Fulu

Why is planet earth the only known planet in the cosmos that supports life? The Alliance and Collaboration for Climate and Earth Systems Science (ACCESS) function primarily on research and educating students in and around South Africa about questions like this. So many things had to go right for you and me to exist. The earth had to be located at the right position, tilted on its axis – that way, we have variable seasons that means we don't get scorched by the sun or freeze. Adding to that, the earth is equipped with many systems that regulate the climate to support life. The study of these systems is called Earth Systems Science. This is the science behind ACCESS's existence. With depleting natural resources, understanding our climatic history and modelling our future can help us make better decisions and changes regarding our use of the available resources. It is a crucial study in understanding climate change. In its education programme, ACCESS deconstructs the science and makes it accessible to people from different educational backgrounds through fun and immersive lessons reinforced by field trips. As Dr Carl Palmer, the education and training national portfolio manager of ACCESS says: "I don’t believe science is hard; it's just been taught poorly for many years". He makes sure he facilitates his lessons with that goal in mind, teaching science in it's simplicity. 22

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ORGANISATION

Q&A TIME! Dr Palmer explains how the ACCESS organisation and programme works. Q: Tell us about ACCESS. At its inception in the late 2000s, ACCESS was supposed to be the “African Centre for Climate and Earth Systems Science”. It was initiated by Prof George Philander, a famous South African climate scientist who has worked for both Princeton in the USA and UCT. He noted that the new IPCC “African” climate centre was to be based in the UK, and rather thought that Africa should have a climate centre based in Africa. Unfortunately, since then we’ve been told we are not allowed to use the words “Africa” or the word “centre”, so we are now the Alliance for Collaboration on Climate and Earth Systems Science. We still maintain the ambition of being a truly African climate centre. ACCESS has both a research and education programme. The research programme targets MSc, PhD and postdoctoral students. The education side is called the Habitable Planet Workshop (HPW) Programme and works with learners and students from schools to honors level. HPW teaches students the story of “Earth Systems Science” (the science behind issues such as climate change) and about South Africa’s unique place in this story. Q: Who is your target audience and how do they get involved with your programmes? The HPWs are targeted at final year undergraduates and happen at locations around South Africa two to three times a year. To get involved with the HPW undergraduate programme (where most people enter), you simply have to fill out an application form for one of our events. All it requires is some basic information, a motivation letter and an essay. You can find out when and where HPW events are happening by following us on social media. Q: Can anyone else other than your target audience get involved in your programmes? We will consider anyone for our workshops and have had an 18-year-old matric learner and a 68-year-old granny take the course in the past. However, you do need to be 18 or over, and preference is given to final-year undergraduates. Q: What are some big achievements that ACCESS has made? We’ve been running successful training workshops all over Africa for over 10 years, graduating over 1 500 students from the programme. We’ve also run undergraduate workshops in Namibia, Kenya and Zimbabwe. In the same period, we have now run schools programmes in nearly all RSA provinces and completed online programmes with students from India, Ghana and Cameroon. To be honest, though, I think the biggest achievement is the impact the workshops have on the students, who regularly report that attending HPW changed their life.

Q: What is your take on the globe going completely clean? You can’t go completely clean when it comes to energy – even solar panels have a carbon footprint. We can hope to generate energy in a more sustainable and economical manner, leaving the planet in a better condition than we would have otherwise. Q: Do you think going clean is achievable and viable for Africa? Whereas clean energy is probably cheaper and can create jobs, the jobs it creates tend to be more skilled. That sounds like bad news in a continent still reliant on a lot of manual labour, and activities like mining, for employment. The upshot is that, if Africa is going to become more sustainable, there are two possibilities, either (i) we carry on as we are and these skilled jobs go to better-educated foreigners, leaving Africans suffering mass unemployment and poverty for decades to come or (ii) we train more scientists ready to take these skilled jobs. I suggest Africa needs to focus on the latter option. If we do so, it's both viable and achievable, yes. Q: What would you say to a student who thinks science is too hard? I don’t believe science is hard; it's just been taught poorly for many years. I invite anyone to come to an HPW and experience how it should be taught for themselves. As for jobs, as I hinted above, I expect a sustainable future will create a lot more skilled science jobs. Even if I am wrong, a degree in science teaches you to think critically and use empiricism and statistics. These are skills needed to get ahead in almost every job and, in fact, in life in general.

Follow ACCESS for more.. Facebook: @Accesshpw Instagram: @Accesshpw Twitter: @ACCESS_HP YouTube: ACCESS HPW

Credit: Alliance and Collaboration for Climate and Earth Systems Science

Science Stars Energy Issue | www.sciencestars.co.za

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PROFILE

THE JOURNEY TO ENERGY FOR ALL WE LOOK AT HOW ONE MAN’S INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS ARE PAVING THE PATH TO SUSTAINABILITY FOR DEVELOPING COUNTRIES ACROSS AFRICA. By: Zakiyah Ebrahim

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he field of engineering has long turned to multiple sources of power in nature for the use and convenience of man but as time progresses, we’re learning the critical importance of understanding and developing designs in balance with nature. Ridaa Manuel, founder of Green New World, chatted to Science Stars about how he merged his studies and expertise in engineering with his passion for nature and the environment. An eye-opening experience It was when Manuel visited and travelled from village to village across Malawi in 2016 that he realised what a “third world country” truly meant. “Its people lived extremely simple lives and ‘lived off the earth’. They literally made the bricks for their houses from sand; ate bananas and mangos from the trees that surrounded them; and made boats from trees which they used to catch fish for their meals,” he tells us.

the coal-powered plants and infrastructure that go with it are in a very bad condition due to poor maintenance and lack of expertise, which he witnessed in Malawi. “In both cases, the lack of access to resources like electricity, food, and wealth disempowered its people, but creating a system that provides these resources will empower them to reach their full potential as human beings,” he stresses. It’s not all doom and gloom, he explaind. Africa has an abundance of renewable energy, including solar and bioenergy. “Accessing this form of energy to solve the energy access problem seems to be the solution,” he says. A post on Green New World’s Instagram page indicates that in one hour, earth receives enough energy from the sun to power it for an entire year. Creating a ‘Green New World’ “Green New World was born out of months of deep diving to find my true authentic self and my life’s purpose,” Manuel told us. It was founded in 2020. As a green business, its aim is to design and build low-cost renewable energy technologies (applications) that will be fueled by the resources available to people in sub-Saharan Africa. Ultimately, it will assist in solving and decreasing the energy poverty problem across the continent. Green New World is currently focused on three phases, Manuel previously told the Big Issue magazine. Phase one involves researching and developing these low-cost applications to allow African countries to access different forms of renewable energies from the sun, wind, waste, and water. These technologies will then be sold to the local community to fund further research and development. Currently, it is in search of a philanthropist or business that is willing to purchase them. The parts will be sold via their Instagram and Facebook pages (@greennewworld23) and their soon-to-be-launched website.

Phase two will combine the different But access to electricity in many “Every young person must applications to provide for human of the areas was limited. Living understand that everything energy needs, such as hot water, without electricity is the reality of gas for cooking and other forms approximately 85% of Malawian they are going through, or of energy. This process will lead to households, reveals USAID. “At night, studying, is for their greater the building of a complete off-grid we would walk through the towns purpose in the future” energy system that can then be used and villages, and the entire town to power an off-grid village. In other would be dark. Many people would words, communities won’t have to swarm along the main roads and catch fish in Lake Malawi depend on public utility services (an electrical power grid) for in the dark. Any activities such as doing homework required their power source. candles,” Manuel explains. Manuel says he also travelled across South Africa and engaged with hundreds of people in many townships. By 2017, data showed that almost 91% of the South African population had electricity access, but people living in township regions were not so fortunate. Manuel highlights that 90% (over 600 million) of people in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa have no access to electricity or clean cooking fuels. Another challenge is that, due to their terrain, it is hard to connect many rural areas to the central grid. Moreover, most of 24

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The third phase will combine this off-grid renewableenergy system with other sustainable ways of living, such as aquaponics for farming and sustainable houses using natural materials. With these innovations introduced to communities who really need them, Manuel explains it will open up doors to education, hospitals, farming and so much more. In December 2020, Green New World tested its first prototype, a solar panel, and found that it heated water to between 40-80°C and quickly moved on to developing its second


PROFILE

prototype. When it was successful, they made it one of their goals to design and develop an off-grid shower. Through countless moments of trial and error, as well as immense frustration, Manuel also managed to build a plasticbottle geyser that uses plastic bottles and milk cartons – essentially combining waste and solar energy – to heat up water. He’s confident that this low-cost technology will help solve the energy access problem by providing access to water and assisting in cleaning up the environment.

Africa with the knowledge he is learning to help solve the energy access problem – and he’s happy for people to support or assist him along the way. “My personal view is that eventually, large groups of youth will join me and that organisations will back me on this mission that will lead us to move through Africa at a rapid pace and provide energy for all – before 2050,” he says.

Manuel has also developed a geyser panel using wood, aluminium, Styrofoam and glass. It incorporates the thermosiphon effect, which allows water in the tank to be heated without the need for any pumps or elements, but only energy from the sun. Green New World’s vision is slowly progressing, but while its long-term vision is for it to be a vehicle to build a sustainable future, it is also the responsibility of the youth, and every person reading this, to play their part in building a green new world, Manuel said. “I always knew I wanted to study engineering” Manuel graduated from Livingstone High School in Cape Town. He received three distinctions in maths, life sciences and geography, and came pretty close to achieving a distinction in physics. “I knew that I wanted to study mechanical engineering with the intention of merging engineering with nature. At that time, I knew I eventually wanted to learn about renewable energy.” After high school, he completed a diploma in mechanical engineering. He went on to do his in-service at AfriSam, followed by completing a BTech in mechanical engineering. He graduated with a whopping eight distinctions and is currently doing his Master’s in energy with the intention of designing the renewable energy system. His wish is that he’ll be able to use this to change the condition of the people in the townships of South Africa and the villages of Africa for the better. In fact, all his studies and work experience has been directly linked to his current mission, Manuel tells us. “Every young person must understand that everything they are going through, or studying, is for their greater purpose in the future, so they should take full advantage of their current experiences." “For example, my previous job was a development technician, and my function was to design, procure, manufacture and test jigs in the aeronautics industry. Now, I design, procure, manufacture and test renewable energy applications that I hope will change the world. It’s all connected.” On a journey The United Nations has set a goal to provide energy for everyone by the year 2030. But, irrespective of their goals, Manuel has his own personal aspirations: to travel through

How to get involved If you want to find out more about Green New World, contact Manuel at ridaa@greennewworld.co.za. You can keep up with his journey via Green New World’s Instagram and Facebook pages (@greennewworld23).

Science Stars Energy Issue | www.sciencestars.co.za

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TOP FIVE

TOP FIVE THESE COUNTRIES ARE LEADING THE WAY IN RENEWABLE ENERGY. By: Zakiyah Ebrahim

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n 2011, the WWF lead a team of scientists, organisations and experts who proposed a vision of 100% renewable energy by 2050. Renewable energy exists freely so will not run out, is cost-effective and is environmentally friendly (it hardly produces toxic pollution or global warming emissions). Because of these points, it makes sense for us to invest in, and transition to, a sustainable energy landscape. According to the World Economic Forum, switching to this form of energy globally could eliminate 4–7 million deaths from air pollution annually. This is because nine out of ten people breathe polluted air, data from the World Health Organization indicates, which can lead to heart conditions and lifethreatening diseases. Although it comes with its fair share of challenges such as high set-up and equipment costs (which makes the 2050 target rather ambitious), WeForum also explains that, based on several reports, the technology does exist for us to transition to a fully sustainable energy system by 2050, and if governments around the world act on these goals, it is highly possible to achieve them. While there have been movements in this direction worldwide, we take a look at the top five countries leading the way (in no particular order).

1. Germany Germany has invested in wind and solar energy. According to the BBC, the central European country now has four of the

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10 largest solar parks in the world. Around 17% of its electricity is generated from renewable sources and 23% from nuclear power. The country is also looking to build more offshore wind farms.

2. China China is currently one of the world’s largest producers of wind and solar energy. Their commitment to supporting the development of renewable energy has led them to step up their efforts and build the most power plants of any country in the world, reported Forbes in a 2020 article. In fact, estimates suggest that the country may be able to reliably run its grids on just over 60% non-fossil electricity generation by 2030.

3. The United Kingdom Reporting by the Guardian in 2019 indicated that renewable electricity was fast overtaking fossil fuels in the UK and in 2020, it officially outpaced its fossil fuel generation. Wind, sunlight, water and wood are currently the UK’s strongest sources of renewable energy – it made up 42% of the island nation’s electricity in 2020.


TOP FIVE

4. Sweden Another country making strides in the energy transition is Sweden. Hydropower and bioenergy are the top renewable sources in the country, with the former being used mainly for electricity production and the latter for heating (both in private homes and in district heating). Currently, there are over 3 500 wind turbines in Sweden according to an article on Sweden.se.

5. Spain Spain has made a major effort to fulfill its renewable energy commitments for 2020. National Geographic reported that the country’s power plants are setting the standard for sustainability. In 2018, the Southwestern European country announced an ambitious environmental policy that would see the country eliminate its dependence on fossil fuels and instead generate 75% of its electricity from renewables by 2030. This target is set to rise to 100% by 2050.

What about Africa? A 2021 study published on Nature Energy revealed that fossil fuels are set to remain the dominant source of electricity across the African continent over the next decade. The authors also said that our continent risks being locked into high carbon energy for decades. On the bright side, of the predicted solar energy usage in Africa by 2030, nearly 40% will be in South Africa alone.

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AVIATION DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA Aviation Development In Africa is a registered non profit organization which consists of young aviators. Our aim is to bring aviation awareness to the youth from under developed & rural areas to different aviation careers. We annually host one of our biggest events #EveryBarHasAStory where we give the learners a platform to learn more about aviation and interact with different professions in the aviation industry. Our mission is to spread aviation awareness and our secondary mission is to fund aspiring aviators in the near future. To Find out more about Aviation Development in Africa these are our social media platforms

FLYING WITH A PURPOSE

Aviation Development In Africa

Aviation Development In Africa

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Aviation_ADA


WORKSHOP

TO THE STARS

HERE’S WHAT YOU MISSED AT THE 6TH EAST AFRICAN ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY (EAAS) WORKSHOP. By: Lusanda Tamesi This three-day program that took place from 20-23 May was based on observational astronomy, women in science, community outreach and development. The main objective was to promote and enhance the development of Astronomy in the East African region. In the beginning of humankind, astronomy was communicated in a language that you and I understood. Scientific communication was common among cultures and passed on from generation to generation without us being aware. Advanced technology has made astronomy seem like a new member in town introducing English and Afrikaans as the dominant languages in South Africa.This phenomena led to science being poorly communicated amongst other ethnic groups but the establishment of the Masakhane group has made science and astronomy a day-to-day thing as this development is able to translate astronomical articles from English to Swahili. There were many familiar faces on the list of Astrozoomers: Petri Vaisanen (SAAO Director), Kevin Govender (AOD Director), Carolina Odman-Govender (Astrophysics Professor from UWC) and Edward Guinan (Villanova’s Astrophysics and Astronomy Professor at Univ. USA). Professor Odman-Govender took us down memory lane of the apartheid regime era where colonialist (Dutch, British and Spanish) introduced modern astronomy through ships along the coastline. She argues that in order for astronomy to reach full attention to the public we need to attract young people. The encouragement of day and night training, location of site and meetings is vital in astronomy. “Astronomy should be taught in a language that everyone understands,” said Professor Odmand-Govendor. “We are living in times where science is going to be the deciding factor for our future, and it needs to be acknowledged and understood by the public. Even if the science-based protocols are clear, people need to be convinced that science is valid and that it can have many motivations and goals on a personal level,” said Niruj Mohan Ramanujam, senior commissioning scientist at SARAO. Ramanujam adds that talks alone cannot communicate

science effectively and that a contextual model should be used to prove that science is indeed what scientists do. In order to be able to give answers to astronomical questions like: What is a lifespan of a star? Or: How to calculate distance from the stars (distance ratio)? teachers need to conduct small experiments and calculations that students can do by themselves. Ramanujam said that there is a rapid need to create quality material in regional languages and that a failure in convincing people to follow guidelines is a failure in science communication. It is no secret that the African continent is facing a huge gap of gender in science. Women still make up only 30% of the scientists in Africa. The African Network of Women in astronomy has identified the various factors that impede women's success in astronomy in Africa: • Poverty • Sexism • Cultural and traditional practices • Lack of role models • Lack of sponsorships • Lack of awareness especially in astronomy • Lack of sensitisation on the field • Gender inequality in society in general African Network of Women in Astronomy (AfNWA), an initiative that aims to connect women working in astronomy and related fields in Africa, has identified the factors as the key elements that hinder success for women in astronomy in Africa. The public argument was that if gender inequality and other mentioned factors were not an issue, we would be smooth sailing when addressing women astronomical issues. A strategic approach and mission needs to be put in place.

To support your studies in astronomy, visit: NRF: nrf.ac.za CSIR-DST (Postgraduates): csir.co.za/dst-csir-inter-bursarysupport-programme SARAO: ska.ac.za/funding NASSP Bursaries: star.ac.za ASSA/HartRAO: assa.saao.ac.za/about/scholarship

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CAREERS

PLANNING YOUR FUTURE ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT SAVING MOTHER EARTH AND EMBRACING GREEN ENERGY? WE HAVE CAREER OPTIONS FOR YOU. By: Lusanda Tamesi

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earing the end of high school brings up questions like: Will my exam marks be good enough? Where will I get the money to fund my studies? How do I know which career to follow? The uncertainty of the future can be stressful, so we’ve gathered a few career options for you to consider. Why should you consider the renewable energy industry? For South Africa to meet the challenges posed by climate change, we need to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. South Africa’s energy future supply is under constraint and we need more trained young people to drive the change to a green future. Is that you?

Certificates, degrees, and diplomas: - National Certificate: Welding Application & Practice NQF Level 4 (Northlink) - National Certificate: Civil Engineering and Building Construction (Buffalo City TVET College) - Diploma in Civil & Chemical Engineering - Diploma in Mechanical Engineering in Mechatronics - Diploma in Construction - Bachelors Engineering Technology in Civil Engineering - Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) degree in Energy Studies SOLAR INSTALLER Also known as a PV installer (photovoltaic), a solar installer provides sustainable and environmentally friendly energy. Solar energy can be used to generate electricity or to cool or heat buildings.

WIND TURBINE TECHNICIAN Wind turbine technicians handle the installation and maintenance of wind turbines. These technicians are in high demand as there is a rapid growth of wind-based power plants in the country. What does the job entail? - Inspecting, maintaining, installing and repairing wind turbines. - Climbing high up to turbines (you must be able to withstand heights). - Fixing problems that could lead to a turbine default. - Communicating site safety information. - Operating and maintaining hydraulic systems. Where can I study? - CPUT (Bellville campus) - Northlink TVET College - Lovedale TVET College - Centre of New Energy Systems (CNS) at University of Pretoria - University of Johannesburg - Buffalo City TVET College

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What does the job entail? - Grounds necessary equipment. - Ensure safety standards are met. - Connect PV to a power grid. Where can I study? - Northlink TVET College - Northern Cape Urban TVET College - False Bay TVET College - CPUT (Bellville Campus) - Central University of Technology - Stellenbosch University - Mangosuthu University of Technology Certificates, degrees, and diplomas: - National Certificate: Hot Water Installation NQF Level 2 (Northlink TVET College) - A course in solar water heating installation (NQF Level 4) - National Certificate (Vocational) Engineering & Related Design: Welding - Dip in Mechanical Engineering (Mangosuthu University of Technology) - Dip in Mechanical engineering (Central University of Technology) - BEng in Mechanical Engineering


CAREERS

WIND ANALYST A wind analyst is part of the meteorology family, and studies how winds can be utilised as an energy provider. In technical terms, they are meteorological experts that study the effects of wind and also study landmarks where wind farm sites could be built.

- Bachelor in: electrical, chemical and civil engineering, or Mechatronics How to apply: Apply online on the Sappi website – sappi.com Deadline: 30 September 2021

What does the job entail? - Planning wind farm sites. - Creating wind maps. - Writing reports. - In-depth research.

Contact: Human Resources at Sappi: Lebo Shabangu Tel: 011 407 8111 Email: youngtalent@sappi.com

Where can I study? - Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University - University of Johannesburg - UNISA - Wits - Stellenbosch University - University of Cape Town

2/ IMESA IMESA provides financial assistance for students who want to study Civil Engineering or any related IMESA field fulltime through the bursary scheme. The bursary covers tuition and book fees and also provides mentors for students to participate in IMESA activities. In order to receive this bursary, you need to study full-time at a recognised tertiary institution and be in your second year.

Certificates, degrees, and diplomas: - NDip in Civil Engineering - BTech Civil Engineering - BSc in Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies - B.Sc in Environmental Science - B.Sc in Meteorology - Bachelor of Science (UFH)

Bursary requirements: - Intending on studying full-time in Civil Engineering or any related field - Excellent academic record - Proven financial need statement - Proof of enrolment

WHERE TO APPLY FOR FINANCIAL SUPPORT 1/ Sappi Bursaries cover tuition, registration, books, residence and living allowances. The total value of the bursary depends on the household income situation of the applicant. Applications are open to South African citizens intending to study fulltime at any South African accredited TVET college/ university. The bursary is for school-leavers between 18 and 25 years old who have achieved the following matric results: - Mathematics: 70% - Physical sciences: 70% - English: 60%

How to apply: 1. You can get the application form on the contact below 2. Send certified copies of the below along with your application form: - South African ID - Affidavit of the household’s monthly income - Undersigned student’s academic progress statement from the applicant’s institution - Mid-year academic results Submit the above-mentioned documents to: The Admin Officer: IMESA Post: P O Box 2190 Westville 3630 Email: bursaries@imesa.org.za Tel/Fax: 031 266 5094 Deadline: From June–15 September yearly

Supporting documents required: - Certified ID copy of the student - Certified copy of matric certificate - Latest examination results or Grade 12 final results - Proof of tertiary registration - Proof of household income - Latest CV Bursaries are given for undergraduate studies and national diplomas in: - Bachelor of Science/bachelor of mechanical engineering

Science Stars Energy Issue | www.sciencestars.co.za

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EXPERIMENT

DIY FUN: TESTING THE POWER OF THE SUN CONDUCT A COOL EXPERIMENT WITH THESE SIMPLE TOOLS AND STEPS! By: Zakiyah Ebrahim

By now, we know that clean sources of energy have an incredibly lower environmental impact than conventional energy technologies. Solar energy comes from the sun and can be captured with various technologies (primarily solar panels), explains EnergySage. If you’re keen to try your hand at a DIY experiment that tests the power of the sun, you can build a simple solar updraft tower (also called a solar chimney) – this is a fun experiment we found on Almostunschoolers.blogspot.com. “Updraft'' refers to the kind of wind where the air moves up. In this experiment, the updraft tower will take sunlight (or the sun’s heat) and use that to expand air and ultimately spin a paper pinwheel. Best of all? You can try this right in the comfort of your home. All you need to do is wait for a sunny day to conduct this experiment.

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Science Stars Energy Issue | www.sciencestars.co.za

Here’s what you’ll need: • • • • • •

Three clean tin cans (top and bottoms removed) Tape A piece of wire, such as a paper clip Drawing pins Two big, thick books A sheet of paper

Instructions: 1. Cut a piece of paper into a square (around 15cm on each side). 2. Stack up the cans and tape them together really well. 3. Bend the wire or paper clip into an arch shape. 4. Tape the wire to the top of the tower of cans. 5. Attach the drawing pin to the top of the wire arch with tape. 6. To fold the pinwheel, grab your square paper and cut it diagonally from the corners. 7. Stick the pinwheel onto the pointy end of the drawing pin. 8. Now that your tower is ready, you’ll have to place it on top of the two books – ensure there is a gap at the bottom to allow air to flow in from underneath. 9. Place the tower, along with the books, near the window where it will receive direct sunlight. 10. After some time, you’ll notice the heat from the sun will warm the air inside the cans, creating a “convective updraft”, and will spin the pinwheel!


EXPERIMENT

How does this happen?

When the sun shines on the cans, they get hot. This leads to some of the heat travelling through the metal to the inside of the cans. This means there’s hot air inside the tower, and hot air rises. This is because hot air is less dense, and therefore lighter than cold air, explains How Things Fly. There are actually places in the world with warm climates, where giant solar updraft towers are used to generate electricity, indicating just how useful and powerful sunlight can be as a source of energy. The largest Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project in the world is situated in Dubai, and measures 262.44 metres high!

Science Stars Energy Issue | www.sciencestars.co.za

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PUZZLES

SUDOKU Fill in the 9×9 grid with digits so that each column, row, and 3×3 section contain the numbers between 1 to 9. 5

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Science Stars Energy Issue | www.sciencestars.co.za

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ANSWERS

TEST RESULTS What was your score for the Chemisty issue?

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CHEMISTRY ISSUE 2021

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QUIZ

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Science Stars Energy Issue | www.sciencestars.co.za

35


FACTS

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW THAT… 1

A recent report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows that the global

5

renewable energy sector has more job opportunities

It is believed that geothermal energy dates back to the Romans who used hot springs to heat their bodies.

for women (32%; with 21% of women working in the fossil fuels industry).

2

A Siemens wind turbine (the largest in the world) generates enough electricity for 18 000 European

6

Paraguay’s Itaipu Dam makes 76% of the

7

Renewable energy is responsible for almost

country’s electricity.

homes to use every year.

3

The most-used source of renewable energy in the world is hydropower, which accounts for 18% of the

4

In just 10 years (from 2007 to 2017), there was a 4 300% increase in the global amount of renewable electricity generated by solar power.

Facts sourced from Ovoenergy.com.

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Science Stars Energy Issue | www.sciencestars.co.za

100% of Iceland’s power, which is mostly generated by hydropower plants.

total amount of power generated in the world.

8

The global renewable energy market is predicted to be worth over $1.5 billion by 2025.


QUIZ

PICKING YOUR BRAIN

1 2 3

Updraft refers to… A. The first draft of a building’s plan. B. The kind of wind where the air moves upwards. C. When a river overflows.

4 5

Which documentary won an Academy Award recently? A. Teaching my Octopus. B. My Teacher’s Pet. C. My Octopus Teacher.

Hot air… A. Rises. B. Expands. C. Causes fire. Which country has four of the 10 largest solar parks in the world? A. China. B. Germany. C. Sweden.

8

Which is the most prevalent source of energy in Africa? A. Fossil fuels. B. Wind. C. Solar.

9

What is a disadvantage of renewable energy? A. Solar and wind energy are intermittent. B. The sun is expensive. C. South Africa has too much wind.

10

Renewable energy resources make up __ of the world’s electricity today. A. 39%. B. 52%. C. 26%.

The most-common renewable energy source in the world is… A. Wind energy. B. Solar energy. C. Hydropower.

6

Which country currenty relies almost 100% on renewable energy? A. Sweden. B. Iceland. C. Norway.

7

Switching to renewable energy could eliminate 4–7 million deaths caused by… A. Air pollution. B. Cancer. C. Malaria.

Science Stars Energy Issue | www.sciencestars.co.za

37


SCIENCE CENTRE

CENTRE OF ATTENTION Welcome to a quick tour of Sci-Bono Discovery Centre. By: Zakiyah Ebrahim Can water disappear when poured into a cup? Can you burn your hand without injury? Can you make rockets from household items? Discover whether these questions are myths or science and supercharge your explorative nature by visiting the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, a worldclass science centre with three fully-equipped laboratories to pique your interest in all things maths, chemistry, physics and life sciences. As South Africa’s most prominent science centre, Sci-Bono is affiliated with the Gauteng Department of Education and aims to help build the country’s science, engineering and technology capacity. Located in the Electric Workshop in the cultural precinct of Newtown, Johannesburg, it frequently welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors to indulge in its interactive science and technology exhibitions. The acid mine drainage workshop, for example, caters for grades 9–12 and allows learners to explore acids and bases and understand what they are, how they form, and what kind of impact they have on our environment. This award-winning centre describes itself as one of the most popular leisure and educational destinations in Gauteng – and with the over350 interactive exhibits it offers to both the general public and the school community, it’s not hard to see why. From a fun climbing wall to a career centre and navigating the night skies, Sci-Bono is guaranteed to provide its visitors with an exhilarating, educational experience. The centre is open seven days a week, including public holidays (except Christmas Day and Good Friday) and has been adapted to adhere to Covid-19 protocols to ensure the safety of all its visitors. It accepts groups of no more than 100 people, and you have to wear a face mask at all times. For more information, visit sci-bono.co.za, email info@sci-bono.co.za or call 011 639 8400.

P lan your visit

Opening times: Weekdays: 09:00–16:30 Saturdays & public holidays: 09:00–16:30 Sundays: 09:00–15:30 Entry rates: Adults: R65 per person Gauteng public schools: R25 per learner * Look out for discounted rates during lockdown. Location: Corner of Miriam Makeba and Helen Joseph (formerly President Street) Streets, Newtown, Johannesburg.

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Science Stars Energy Issue | www.sciencestars.co.za


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