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Intelligent power supply grids with renewable energy, new traffic concepts combined with smart town planning steer rapid urbanisation in a sustainable direction.
Africa is experiencing one of the fastest rates of urbanisation in the world, with sub-Saharan Africa leading the way. By 2030 Africa will have 760 million urban residents. By 2050 that figure is expected to grow to 1.2 billion. In South Africa, six major cities concentrating 31 percent of the total population together contribute as much as 55 percent of national GDP. The challenges in town planning that need to be overcome in the sustainable development of cities are enormous.
Around the world, cities account for two thirds of global energy demand, 60 percent of water consumption, and 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. With more people moving to cities, the demand for efficient urban infrastructures and sustainable development projects in alternative energy, public transport, water supply as well as in healthcare is increasing. Innovative technologies help sustainable cities meet these demands.
With its comprehensive environmental portfolio Siemens is a global leader in sustainable urban development. Our longstanding expertise and ongoing studies conducted with renowned partners have resulted in innovative infrastructure concepts and sustainable solutions for water management, public transport, safety, affordable healthcare and renewable energy resources like wind energy.
A variety of Siemens initiatives ‒ including the African Sustainable Cities Tour and the African Green City Index ‒ promote ideas for the sustainable city of the future.
Due to climate change and limited fossil fuel supplies, renewable energy resources are gaining in importance. Estimates suggest that in the year 2020, more than 50 percent of worldwide investments in the power plant market will be for the expansion of renewable energy resources like water, sun, and wind energy. Siemens offers green solutions for alternative energy like hydro power and different types of wind turbines. To support the big infrastructure drive in renewable power-generation projects on the African continent, Siemens has established its Wind Power Center of Competence for Africa and the Middle East in South Africa.
Sustainability in the energy conversion chain begins with the generation of power. Combined heat and power plants (CHPP) are among the most efficient methods of converting fuel into power and heat. With efficiency rates of up to 95 percent, these systems are both cost-effective and environment-friendly. Combined cycle power plants (CCPP) offer another highly effective way to generate energy. They currently achieve efficiency levels of more than 60 percent and thereby contribute to sustainable development.
The most efficient and environment-friendly way to transmit power across long distances to the cities is by high-voltage direct current (HVDC). It is the only option for connecting separate electric power networks, because HVDC functions as a firewall that can effectively prevent blackouts from becoming more widespread. Siemens HVDC systems offer high reliability and overload capability together with low converter losses and transmission capacities of up to 7,500 MW.
The percentage of renewable energy resources in Africa’s power generation is going to grow over the next years. Smart grids are needed necessary in order to integrate the often-fluctuating levels of “green energy” (renewable energy resources) into the power grid in an intelligent and energy-efficient way. Smart grids enable low-loss transmission and cut CO2 emissions because less power needs to be generated. They provide for better power quality in the different voltage levels as well as higher energy system stability and security. Ultimately, smart grids allow energy to flow in both directions. This means that it is possible to integrate prosumers – like electric vehicles (green cars) and green buildings that not only consume power but can also feed surplus power back into the grid.
Smart meters are crucial components of smart grids. These electronic meters make it easier to coordinate power generation and consumption. Grid operators can reward customers by offering lower rates to those who conserve energy: for example, by shifting their operations from peak to off-peak times.
Smart grid technologies increase the efficiency and stability of an energy system. Siemens offers innovative medium-voltage components and systems, efficient solutions for energy automation, and services for electrical systems and networks. Our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Northriding, Johannesburg produces high-quality medium-voltage switchgear systems. It adds local value by creating jobs and promoting skills development.
With African countries experiencing rapid urbanisation, sustainable development of urban infrastructures is vital. The infrastructures of today will define what the cities of tomorrow will look like.
Up to 1.2 billion people lack access to clean drinking water. To ensure that South Africans have access to clean and safe water, the South African Department of Water and Environmental Affairs is putting in place a number of initiatives including water conservation awareness programmes and fixing water leaks.
Public utility companies are responsible for providing a reliable water supply as well as energy-efficient water purification. They are faced with growing energy costs and increasingly strict environmental standards. Siemens products ensure the highest availability and value solutions for water purification and water management. For example, Siemens Totally Integrated Automation helped manage the Komati Water Scheme Augmentation Project (KWSAP) in South Africa. Siemens was also awarded a contract to supply and install a turnkey pumping station for a potable water project in Algeria.
Increasing energy costs, regulations on CO2 emissions, financial limitations in the healthcare system, and enhanced competition between healthcare providers are the main forces at play in the healthcare field. The challenge is to make medical services more affordable and accessible to more Africans while also improving the quality of individual patient care. Workflows need to be more efficient, hospitals more cost-effective, and it all needs to be achieved sustainably. With the Green+ Hospitals program, Siemens provides hospitals with the support they need to create sustainable healthcare infrastructures. The innovative Green+ Hospital concept combines state-of-the-art diagnostic procedures and treatment methods with sustainable energy supplies.
Energy consumption accounts for over three-quarters of the environmental impact of medical equipment. When developing new products, Siemens ensures that the new devices consume less energy that the models they replace. The MAGNETOM ESSENZA was developed specifically for hospitals and private practices that want to provide complete diagnostics on low budgets. The economical MRI scanner is also especially safe for the environment. It conserves up to 25 percent of electricity and construction costs for installation, and its modern power electronics can help cut power consumption by up to 50 percent.
In terms of sustainability, treatment quality and atmosphere are what matters most to patients. Short examination times, safe diagnoses using low doses of radiation, and a feeling of comfort in hospital beds are what make the difference. This is why Siemens puts an emphasis on patient comfort and gentle treatment.
Transport creates 20 percent of the energy-related greenhouse gas emissions worldwide – and our society’s mobility continues to grow. Cities in particular need integrated, efficient, and affordable traffic solutions in order to ensure lasting mobility, attractiveness, and competitiveness. Siemens has received various orders to support the sustainable development of Africa's urban infrastructure.
Providing eco-friendly local public transportation requires products and solutions for buses, trains, and metro systems. For example, hybrid buses equipped with ELFA drive systems from Siemens harness a large amount of their braking energy and consume 30 percent less fuel. The Inspiro metro platform and the Avenio low-floor tram also offer maximum efficiency and environment-friendliness. Siemens was the major supplier to the first tram line built in Africa, which involved the placement of 140 light rail vehicles into service on eight lines in Tunis.
And after 30 years of planning and construction work, Algiers now boasts the second subway system on the African continent. The new subway system brings residents of Algeria’s capital from the suburbs to the center in just ten minutes – instead of 45 minutes by car. Siemens was able to complete the project in just five years and is already planning a second line to follow the first.
Siemens regional trains ensure that millions of people can cover the distance from home to workplace safely and on time in an environment-friendly way. The Desiro regional trainset platform, for example, has highly efficient drive systems that keep energy consumption low. For inter-city connections, high-speed trains like the Velaro and freight locomotives are an environment-friendly alternative to cars and airplanes. The Velaro consumes a mere 0.33 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers per passenger.
In the prelude to the World Cup 2010 in South Africa, Siemens supplied integrated passenger-information and station-management systems. The modern signaling, public address, and information display systems not only increased the efficiency of the entire system; they also enhanced its reliability and attractiveness. Committing to add local value and create jobs, Siemens has a facility in Kya Sands, Johannesburg, focusing on rail signaling technologies, electric interlocking, and LED signaling.
As part of South Africa’s rail infrastructure upgrade program, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) commissioned Siemens with the construction of a new Gauteng nerve center for centralized rail traffic management. The new rail signaling and train protection system will increase the operational capacity, provide a higher level of flexibility and safety, and reduce train delays.
In the future, electromobility will play a more important role in traffic concepts for sustainable cities. Electric cars offer eco-friendly mobility that protects resources, especially when it comes to private transportation. Electric cars can be integrated into smart grids: with electronic energy assistants that calculate both the battery charge required for each vehicle and their optimal charge cycles, any battery power that is not immediately needed is easily fed back into the power grid.
Ensuring a city’s sustainable future encompasses more than just energy-efficient technologies. It’s also about acting as a responsible corporate citizen and investing in those who will inherit the future. As a company, Siemens is focused on training and skills development.
Siemens’ support of the SAJ Artisan Training Institute, located in the Johannesburg suburb of Germiston, is also linked to the Technical Artisan Skills Development Investment. In the latter case, funds are disbursed using a performance‐based formula, and the company has invested R13 million to date. This has enabled the Institute – a 50 percent black-owned SME that boasts an excellent reputation for training and has national industry training accreditation – to establish and equip a 600-square-meter training workshop that is used to train students in electrical, fitting, turning, welding, boilermaking, and pipefitting.
In Tembisa in the Gauteng province of South Africa, Siemens has adopted the Ingayizivele High School so that about 1,600 students have what they need to make learning easier. Since Siemens has partnered with the school, the facilities have been greatly improved and so have student outcomes, especially in science and mathematics.
Through the Youthspace program, Siemens has been taking underprivileged children off the streets and giving them shelter, food, education, and loving care since 2001. The company owns several Youthspace houses throughout South Africa. Supported by Siemens staff and by contributions from an executive fund, Youthspace offers a home under the supervision of a caregiver who makes sure the children are well-fed and that their physical, mental, and spiritual needs are nurtured.