More and more industrial manufacturers are turning to General Electric to supply them with alternative energy solutions. Due to energy supply shortages, a number of South Africa’s factories have turned to advanced natural gas and steel gas-fueled Jenbacher gas engine systems to generate reliable onsite power. In the case of Thos Begbie & Company, a foundry located in the heavy industrial hub of Middelburg, in Mpumalanga, the company has become nearly self-sufficient and is hoping to soon be completely off the grid supplied by the local power utility.
GE is showcasing a number of its innovative energy technology solutions deployed throughout South Africa, including the Jenbacher product line, at the 2011 African Utility Week industry conference, which is being held in Cape Town, March 14-17.
Thos Begbie & Company is a specialized foundry and production facility, amongst others for the production of copper, chrome and manganese mainly for the export. In order to expand production capacity, in 2009, Thos Begbie required the installation of an additional 10-megawatts (MW) of electricity to power the extra furnaces used in forging the specialized buckets. After considering its options—including the potential construction of its own full-scale power station—the company turned to GE for advice on an alternative energy solution. The engines provide Thos Begbie with the additional 10-MW it required.
“To expand Thos Begbie’s foundry’s production capacity, they evaluated several on-site energy generating options to increase the amount and reliability of power that the furnaces required, ” said Gert van Zyl, managing director, ADC (PTY) Ltd. “We selected GE’s Jenbacher gas engine technology because it has a proven track record and also offers greatest levels of operational flexibility, durability and efficiency to help the operations at the Thos Begbie plant become even more globally competitive.”
GE recommended the installation of four of its 2.7-MW, J620 natural gas-fired Jenbacher engines to power the arc furnaces used in the foundry’s preheating processes. As it enters the completion phase of the Jenbacher project, Thos Begbie has become closer to self-sufficiency. The Jenbacher engines have made its factory far less affected by power outages and therefore its production has become much more stable.
Thos Begbie & Company has been serving South Africa’s mining and smelting-related industries for more than 120 years. Originally established in 1887 in Johannesburg as a foundry and engineering business serving the mining industry, the business was relocated to Middelburg in 1906.
“One of the key ways that South Africa can address its ongoing energy supply issues is to continue expanding the use of cleaner, distributed energy technologies to enhance local energy reliability for the country’s manufacturing sector, ” said Jay Wileman, vice president of Sub-Saharan Africa for GE Energy. “GE’s Jenbacher gas engines are capable of operating on a variety of fuels and many Jenbacher products are ecomagination approved, providing GE’s customers with products that improve their operating performance and reduce environmental impact.”
Responding to growing global demand for high-efficiency power generation, in June 2010, GE launched the world’s first two-stage turbocharged gas engine and is applying this game-changing technology to its Jenbacher J624 gas engine. The new engine provides significant output and efficiency increases compared to the single turbocharged version and is particularly well-suited for operation in hot environments and CHP applications. In South Africa, the technology offers the availability and output that makes it particularly suited for grid stabilization projects.
GE has been involved in several distributed energy industrial projects in South Africa. In 2007, GE announced the plans for the installation of its landfill gas-fueled Jenbacher engines to support South Africa’s first landfill methane gas power plant projects near Durban, helping the city also expand its use of renewable sources to reduce regional carbon emissions and enhance regional grid reliability. The engines are in commercial operation since 2008.
In July 2010, GE South Africa Technologies (Pty) Limited (GESAT) announced it would provide state-owned enterprise Transnet Limited with 10 of GE’s diesel-powered generator sets to help ensure that Transnet’s new multi-product pipeline between Durban and Johannesburg has an uninterrupted power supply. Once the project is completed, the gen-sets will provide a total of 34-MW in emergency power to the pipeline’s pump stations and terminals. The pipeline is being built to secure the supply of diesel, petrol and jet fuel to inland markets.
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GE serves the energy sector by developing and deploying technology that helps make efficient use of natural resources. With more than 90,000 global employees and 2010 revenues of $38 billion, GE Energy (ge.com/energy) is one of the world’s leading suppliers of power generation and energy delivery technologies. The businesses that comprise GE Energy—GE Power & Water, GE Energy Services and GE Oil & Gas—work together to provide integrated product and service solutions in all areas of the energy industry including coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy; renewable resources such as water, wind, solar and biogas; and other alternative fuels.
Howard Masto, Masto Public Relations
P: +1 518 786 6488 / E: howard.masto[.]ge.com.
Gina DeRossi, Masto Public Relations
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