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The energy industry in SA is being evolved by new innovations like Smart Grid Program

When compared to where power engineering was 50 years ago, technological growth was slow. When it came to transformers and transmission lines, it was all conventional procedure, and communication technology was not as advanced. We unwittingly found ourselves on the verge of something big. Fast forward a half-century, and the energy business is experiencing unprecedented expansion.

The University of Pretoria’s Power group, in collaboration with Enterprises University of Pretoria (Pty) Ltd (Enterprises UP), is working on the Smart Grid Programme with the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) and the South African Department of Energy (DoE) to pave the way for new approaches to solving Africa’s energy crisis.

Smart Grids is one of SANEDI’s flagship programs, aligned with the Department of Energy’s strategic objectives and dedicated to conducting applied research projects in the South African Electricity Distribution Industry to test and deploy various smart grid concepts (EDI).

“Smart grid is about merging communication technologies with traditional electrical infrastructure to build a better way of doing things,” said Prof. Raj Naidoo, Head of Department: Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering at the University of Pretoria.

When you start using smart grid technologies, you have to put in place new processes and teach people in new ways so they can do their duties efficiently, Prof. Naidoo continued. He added that otherwise, you’ll end up with highly sophisticated systems but no way of putting them to use.

To this purpose, the University was able to construct a program that encompassed curriculum development to provide the sector with the essential skills, in collaboration with Enterprises UP.

In terms of smart metering, the training program ensured that municipalities were properly advised on rollout strategies, required skills, and hardware requirements, such as specifications, meter data management system, and meter hardware, as well as ensuring that municipalities were aligned and complied with the Department of Trade Industry (DTI) requirements.

“We’re now training students in areas that are critical to the sector, such as smart metering and distributed generation, and this is where the industry is headed. Students gain practical experience that will enable them to put their skills to work in moving the economy forward.”


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