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Sub-Saharan Africa

Gravity-based storage for distributed solar

An international research team has designed a residential solar-plus-storage system based on gravity. The system was built with a solar power generator, a bulk booster charge controller, an inverter, a solenoid device, a deep cycle battery, a pulley block, a geared motor, a microcontroller, and wire ropes. Its creators said the system is ideal for regions with high solar radiation. They found that, due to its high electrical requirements, the system needs to rely on high-power solar modules with an output of over 500 W.

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Sunday read: the ‘other side’ of batteries

Graphite’s pivotal role in electric-vehicle battery technology is coming under increasing scrutiny. Graphite is almost exclusively produced in China, and while the processing of the mineral poses serious environmental issues, the alternatives appear costly. Ian Morse looks at what’s next for critical graphite supplies.

Green hydrogen supply chain concerns

With South Africa holding 63,000 of the world’s estimated 69,000 metric tons of platinum reserves – according to the Statista.com website – and Russia and Zimbabwe a further 5,100 between them, the European Commission has cited the metal as an example of a potential supply chain bottleneck that could handicap its grand plans for renewables-powered hydrogen production.

We need an energy access revolution: A new approach to innovation can help

840 million people still don’t have access to electricity today, according to the World Bank. But the radical decrease in the cost of the green technologies of solar and battery storage provides an unparalleled opportunity to close this gap and achieve universal electricity access by 2030.

Ugandan youth activist stuns Berlin energy transition event

Vanessa Nakate shocked organisers of the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue by delivering a speech highlighting how she and a fellow youth activist had to submit their presentations for approval in advance of the event and were banned from criticising any of the politicians involved.

Solar-powered cooling system for crop storage

South African scientists have used a PV system to keep tomatoes in cold storage. They linked an air-cooling system and evaporative cooling tech to a 3.5 kW array and 12 batteries and tested it for 28 days in September.

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Redflow batteries to add VPP capabilities

Brisbane-based battery supplier Redflow has joined forces with smart energy system company carbonTRACK to add virtual power plant functionality to its flow batteries.

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Okra Solar’s new tech is a one-two punch against energy poverty

Okra Solar, the Aussie startup we last saw delivering solar mini-grids to remote communities via a shared ping-pong table, is emerging from Covid-19 lockdown with new investors and two new pieces of tech that will better enable solar energy access to the 900 million people around the world still lacking power.

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South African mining sector wants solar

The Minerals Council South Africa has urged the government to solve the country’s energy crisis by adding more power generation capacity from both distributed and large-scale renewables. Meanwhile, several mining companies operating in South Africa are planning their own big solar parks, including two 200 MW facilities under development by Sibanye-Stillwater and Vedanta.

Hydrogen powered mining trucks are coming

The building-sized trucks run on diesel and prompt logistical complications as large amounts of diesel must be shipped to remote mining sites. Attempts to decarbonize the mining sector will have to consider the heavy-duty vehicles.

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