Plugging into renewable energy

The Centre for Distributed Power and Electronic Systems is starting to flex its muscles as the biggest Research Centre in the Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering Department.

Earlier this year CDPES launched its own real-time simulation and hardware-in-the-loop laboratory, the Opal-RT Real Time Simulation Laboratory. They recently invited representatives from marine diamond mining company DebMarine Namibia to check out the system.

The company is in the process of designing a new mining vessel but does not have the in-house ability to test the capacity of proposed electrical systems before they are installed on the ship. Potentially this research could be handled by CDPES or DebMarine Namibia employees could be trained to use the OPAL-RT simulator in the CPUT laboratory in order to do the testing themselves.

While giving the DebMarine Namibia representatives a brief overview of CDPES and the Energy Institute deputy head of operations at CDPES, Dr Marco Adonis, pointed out that the laboratory in which he was standing was operating completely off the grid. The Solar MD Renewable Energy Laboratory is powered and run by a Photovoltaic back-up laboratory system and is already used as a teaching lab.

CDPES is also currently setting up a Phoenix Contact Instrumentation Laboratory and about to install a Chroma Solar PV Simulator and Inverter Testing Laboratory plus a Chroma Battery Simulator and Testing Laboratory.

“We are trying to set ourselves up as unique and to specialise with regards to our research ambit,” Adonis explained the new laboratory spaces.

CDPES is currently overseeing 36 BTech students, all on track to graduate at the end of 2018. At the recent 2018 CDPES BTech Conference the students presented papers on a host of subjects ranging from the voltage regulation of wind turbines connected to the grid to thoughts on a renewable energy-based water purification system for a rural village in South Africa.

Engineer Hermann Oelsner was invited to open the Conference and he delivered a talk on renewable energy and his ideas for setting up a desalination plant on the West Coast. Oelsner spoke about the changes in renewable energy technology over the past ten years and challenged the BTech students to think about what research was needed in a quickly changing industry.

After all the papers were delivered Dorian Anyala won best presentation for his paper “Feasibility study into the possibility of setting up a concentrated solar power plant into the Namibian national grid” while Asive Poswayo was the runner-up for his paper “Resynchronisation of grid-connected PV system after downstream faults clearance.”


Written by Theresa Smith