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Switch on the smart grid

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The infrastructure that delivers electricity from our local utility and municipalities to buildings – is over-taxed, but by linking all supply and demand elements through intelligent communication, the grid could constantly monitor demand and adjust delivery accordingly, writes NEIL CAMERON, GM at Johnson Controls Building Efficiency.

The grid – the infrastructure that delivers electricity from our local utility and municipalities to buildings – is over-taxed. Because of increasing demand during peak time periods and the imminent output of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind when South Africa’s Independent Power Producers (IPP’s) start contributing with supply, the grid is less able to provide a stable energy supply. However, by linking all supply and demand elements through intelligent two-way communication, the grid could constantly monitor demand and adjust delivery accordingly. That’s the idea behind the “smart grid.” For example, by interfacing with home appliances or building controls, the smart grid could allow those energy-consuming devices to operate in off-peak periods and disable them during peak periods to save energy, reduce strain on the grid and enable users to consume electricity when it is least expensive.

In South Africa, we do not have a ‘smart grid’ per se but the natural progression to our energy crisis is to implement the technology in order to connect demand to supply capabilities and deliver bi-directional information between the utility and the consumer.  It will drive consumer usage and behaviour through ‘time of use’ billing and enable facilities (and consumers) to reduce their consumption during peak periods. Facilities will be able to control their energy loads by having them connected to a smart grid and enable companies to manage their own load shedding. This will deliver significant financial benefits to organisations and assist the utility to manage demand better. To deliver all the benefits the smart grid has to offer, smart buildings need to be connected to it.

A smart building provides some or all of the following advanced capabilities:

·         Optimised coordination of energy loads, on-site energy generation and energy storage.

·         Fully integrated control of lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, IT, and other energy consuming systems, using weather data and information from security, scheduling and other business systems to optimise performance.

·         Advanced diagnostics and automated measurement, verification and reporting of energy and greenhouse gas emissions savings.

·         Continuous two-way communication between the building and the grid.

·         Automatic demand response to dynamic pricing signals from the grid. By utilising smart building technologies, owners and tenants can vary electricity usage in response to signals from the grid when prices change to consume electricity when it’s cheaper, and they can reduce demand when the grid is reaching capacity.

This is known as “demand response.” Smart building management systems can automate a short-term reduction in energy demand through load shedding or load shifting. For example, if the owner sets an electricity price threshold for the building and the grid signals that the price will exceed that threshold at a particular time of the day, the system would automatically reduce energy demand in the building at that time. The system could turn off non-critical loads, reduce lighting levels and let building temperatures float within limits or start the use of stored or on-site energy generation.

Combining smart grid and smart building technologies improves reliability and security, while reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Johnson Controls has been providing smart building technologies to customers for years and those customers are reaping the benefits. Commercial buildings in the U.S. now consume 18 percent of the country’s energy and 36 percent of the electricity. In a recent Energy Efficiency Indicator study, 44 percent of facility executives in the U.S. selected smart building technology as one of the top three technologies expected to have the greatest price-performance improvement over the next 10 years. The time to deploy smart building technologies is now. Doing so could avoid $33 billion in energy costs and eliminate 160 million tons of carbon emissions annually by the year 2030.

Arts and Entertainment

Deezer to host Hotstix’s Mandela tribute playlist

Deezer is celebrating Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birthday by hosting a tribute playlist created by music legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse.  

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Mabuse, a legendary figure in African music, first rose to prominence in the 1970s with his band Harari and later developed a name for himself as a solo artist. One of his best known songs was the global hit BurnOut in the 1980s.

The playlist takes the listener on a captivating musical journey through the life of Nelson Mandela.  It was compiled by Mabuse, who consulted with Mandela’s family and friends to ensure that the music would be relevant and accurate. The playlist also features commentary by Mabuse, which was recorded in his Soweto home.  

“I have tried to tell the story of the music that Madiba loved,” says Mabuse. “The Playlist excludes the time in prison obviously, as Madiba would not have had exposure to music in that time.  We have focused on the music we know he loved before and after that period. This recording was really an emotional journey for me, but an incredible opportunity to document these memories.”

The playlist features the music the young Mandela loved, such as The Manhattan Brothers, Solomon Linda, Brenda Fassie and Miriam Makeba.  It includes struggle songs from Chicco, Johnny Clegg, Hugh Masekela and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.  The playlist also includes Mandela by Zahara, one of the younger artists who caught Madiba’s ear.

Mabuse also offers stories of his own songs, such as Shikisha, a song greatly beloved by the former President.

“I was delighted to share my thoughts and hope the listeners enjoyed the musical journey,” says Mabuse. “Madiba did enjoy music immensely and we all have a purpose wherever we are in the world to celebrate culture and to learn from different cultures and music forms and styles.”

This playlist was inspired by the Nelson Mandela 100 campaign, calling on corporates and individuals to act as sources of inspiration and engage in conversation and action.

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Sports streaming takes off

Live streaming of sports is coming of age as a mainstream method of viewing big games, as the latest FIFA World Cup figures from the UK show. Africa isn’t yet at the same level when it comes to the adoption of sports streaming, but usage is clearly moving in the right direction.

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England’s World Cup quarter-final against Sweden was watched by just under 20 million viewers in the UK via BBC One. While this traditional broadcast audience was huge, it was streaming that broke records: the game was the BBC’s most popular online-viewed live programme ever, with 3.8 million views. In Africa, the absolute numbers are lower but the trend towards streaming major sports events on the continent is also well under way.

According to DStv, live streaming of sports dominates the usage figures for its live and recorded TV streaming app, DStv Now. The number of people using the app in June was five times higher than a year ago, with concurrent views peaking during major football and rugby games.

Since the start of the World Cup, average weekday usage of DStv Now is up 60%. The absolute peak in concurrent usage for one event was reached on 26 June, during the Nigeria vs Argentina game. The app’s biggest ever test was on 16 June with both Springbok Rugby and World Cup Football under way at the same time, resulting in concurrent in-app views seven times higher than the peaks seen in June last year.

The World Cup has also been a major reason for new users to download and try out the app. First-time app user volumes have tripled on Android and doubled on iOS since the start of the tournament.

“While we expected live sports streaming to take off, it’s also been pleasing to see that the app is really popular for watching shows on Catch Up,” says MultiChoice South Africa Chief Operating Officer Mark Rayner. “Interestingly, some of the most popular Catch Up shows are local, with Isibaya, Binnelanders, The Queen and The River all getting a significant number of views.”

With respect to app usage, the web and Android apps are the most popular way to watch DStv Now, with Android outpacing iOS by a factor of 2:1.

“We’re continuing to develop DStv Now, with 4k streaming in testing and smart TV and Apple TV apps on their way shortly,” says Rayner. “The other key priority for us is working with the telcos to deliver mobile data propositions that make watching online painless and worry-free for our customers.”

The DStv Now app is free to all 10 million DStv customers in Africa. The app streams DStv live channels as well as supplying an extended Catch Up library. Two separate streams can be watched on different devices simultaneously, and content can also be downloaded to smartphones and tablets. The content available on the app varies according to the DStv package subscribed to.

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