Page 26 - University of Pretoria RESEARCH REVIEW 2016
P. 26

DEVELOPMENT and the economy
South Africa’s national electrical grid system
is under increasing strain due to its ageing infrastructure, insufficient maintenance,
and a lack of real-time monitoring. Several research groups at UP’s Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering (EECE) are working with industry and government to address these challenges.
improving renewable and hybrid energy systems are key for rural communities, many of whom are still without a reliable connection to the national grid.
A related aspect of his group’s research focuses on how best to integrate renewable energy sources into conventional power systems. The integration
of renewable energy generators in distribution networks increases the complexity of voltage control, thus rendering traditional control methods ineffective.
Another research group, led by Professor Raj Naidoo, and working with SANEDI, has taken a multi-pronged approach to strengthening the electricity sector. They are developing smart metering technology for municipalities, and revising the technical standards for integrating smart grids and devices into the larger network (known as grid codes). At the same time, they are also working on the development of smart grid data security. The integration of this new technology affects not only the national electricity system, but would provide accurate information on the state of the grid, thus making possible the real-time monitoring of the national electrical grid system.
  The intention to improve South Africa’s energy sector is the driving force behind much of the work undertaken, often in partnership with the power utility, Eskom, the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI), the Department of Energy, and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA). Two areas of focus are presented here:
Professor Ramesh Bansal, Head of the Power Research Group in EECE, is working on flexible alternating current transmission systems (FACTS) for Eskom. The FACTS systems help to maintain voltage while transporting electrical energy over long distances. As an added benefit, his work on
      Ramesh Bansal and Raj Naidoo
 Article adapted from Research Matters; see 24 | UP Research Review 2016

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