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Articles Posted in the featured category

Understanding South Africa’s water challenge

August 25, 2017
Posted in featured

Over the past few years South Africa has been experiencing one of the most extreme droughts in recent history. Many experts consider the dry season of 2015/2016 to be the worst drought in almost 25 years, but the 2016/2017 dry season looks likely to be rated even worse. During the 2016/2017 dry season dam levels in most provinces dropped below those of 2015/2016 and some provinces, such as the Western Cape, are still firmly in the grip of the drought.

There are a number of factors affecting South Africa’s current water situation. This interactive feature explains some of the major issues.

View the full interactive feature here.


Hidden danger: asbestos in Gauteng’s schools

August 25, 2017
Posted in featured, Lifestyle

South Africa’s Department of Education adopted regulations in 2013 stipulating that all schools made of asbestos had to be replaced by 29 November 2016. The Gauteng education department (GDE), which is responsible for the province’s school infrastructure, identified 29 asbestos schools for replacement, but not one of them was replaced by the deadline.

What’s more, the 29 schools currently earmarked for replacement are just a small part of the problem. According to the GDE’s own information, there are more than 200 schools in the province with asbestos structures. But the list of asbestos schools keeps changing, and it is unclear if it is complete, and if the asbestos structures are in good condition.

Asbestos was banned in South Africa in 2008 because it is known to cause cancer.

We investigated how many schools are made entirely or partially of asbestos.

View the full interactive investigation here.

Wind turbines power Antarctic base

February 17, 2009
Posted in featured, Renewable energy


Princess Elisabeth research base © International Polar Foundation

The first Antarctic base to operate entirely on renewable energies officially opened on Sunday. Instead of diesel generators, Belgium’s Princess Elisabeth research station in East Antarctica, has 6kW wind turbines designed to work in extreme environments.

Most Antarctic research stations rely on diesel generators because no wind turbines were thought to be robust enough to endure the most severe weather conditions on Earth, says Proven Energy, the Scottish small wind turbine manufacturer that supplied the turbines for the base.

“They will be operating in average winds of 53 mph [85 kph] and winter gusts of over 200mph [320 kph], while still providing 230V electricity for the stations heating, computers, lights and scientific instruments,” says Proven Energy. “The electricity generated is expected to be the highest output of any small wind power system in the world.”

In addition to the turbines, both solar thermal and photovoltaic (PV) will be used on the building itself. The water supply for the station will use solar thermal panels to melt the snow thereby limiting the use of electrical energy to pump water.

The research station combines eco-friendly construction materials, clean and efficient energy use, optimisation of the station’s energy consumption and the best waste management techniques with the aim of reducing its ecological footprint on the pristine Antarctic environment, says the International Polar Foundation, which was commissioned by the Belgian government to design and build it.

The station provides state-of-the-art facilities for 16 scientists to do climate change research.

[Via: Engineering News]