Africa Urged To Invest In Hybrid Energy Systems
New research, conducted by the African Institute of Race Relations, has shown that Africa is in need of generating capacity the size of Medupi and Kusile every decade in order to continuously supply energy to the entire continent, and should therefore invest in hybrid renewable energy systems.
The idea behind the initiative would be to lessen the pressure on the national grid and create a more sustainable supply of energy.
Arthur Chien, VP of Talesun Energy argues that the adoption of hybrid renewable energy systems is likely to become the next big trend for global power utilities as these systems increase the generating capacity of traditional power plants and sources due to the combination of two or more different types of energy sources.
“One of the main aims of hybrid energy is to reduce the emissions from traditional power plants by using a combination of energy types,” he said. “The utilisation of a hybrid energy system is an effective method of solving the energy and environmental problems prevalent in Africa.”
Hybrid power systems are based on energy sources that rely largely on fossil fuels and use renewable energy to reduce fuel consumption, systems which rely on renewable energy sources and use diesel generators as a backup supply, or systems which rely only on a combination of renewable energy source and fossil fuel generators.
The latter option offers significant environmental benefits compared to systems which reply largely on generators powered by fossil fuels.
Chien added that the advantage of a hybrid system is that the two energy sources do not have to be located nearby each other, and can be placed in separate locations to gain optimum exposure of the relevant elements needed to produce renewable energy.
Ultimately, hybrid systems are the answer to providing electricity to remote rural areas where the grid extension is a challenge and uneconomical.
“Fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, are the main source of energy in rural areas but are becoming increasingly expensive, while hybrid systems can provide electricity at a more cost effective price,” Chien explained.
“Furthermore, hybrid systems, especially renewable energy hybrid systems powered by sustainable factors which are abundant in rural areas, can be drivers of electrification in remote areas where utilities can find it challenging to provide electricity.”
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”