Building power and water infrastructure capability in South Africa

Specialist power and water consulting firm Entura has identified opportunities for the South African city of Durban to increase its use of renewable energy, while at the same time driving down water infrastructure operating costs.

Entura received a grant from the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), an international non-profit organisation, to identify opportunities to install mini-hydro (100kW to 1MW) on existing water supply infrastructure. The opportunities identified would enable generation of energy from renewable sources without the need for large and costly new infrastructure.

REEEP’s mission is to accelerate markets for clean energy in developing countries and emerging markets, and provided €148 000 in funding for the project to help ignite potential markets for mini-hydro in medium-sized cities.

“The potential for mini-hydro to transform the energy mix in many cities is considerable. This project is setting the stage for not only Durban, but the wider region as well,” said Eva Oberender, Director of Programme at REEEP.

The project was co-funded by eThekwini Water and Sanitation, a service unit of Durban City Council.

“Durban City Council has a vision of becoming a green city. The focus of Entura’s work was to assess the economic viability of installing mini-hydro schemes on existing infrastructure, such as pipelines and reservoirs, in support of that vision,” said Project Manager, Entura’s Rik Van Der Kley.

“We found there is scope for utilities to add value to their existing operations, with mini-hydro projects of less than 1 megawatt providing viable opportunities. However, greater returns and investment opportunities exist for larger municipalities where projects in the 1-2 megawatt range could be developed.

“Infrastructure owners who invest in mini-hydro as an add-on to their core business can offset their own electricity costs by using the energy generated to run part of their operations, or could earn extra revenue by putting the energy into the local grid.”

An important part of the project was cultivating local knowledge and skills to support identification and development of similar opportunities elsewhere in the region. The project culminated in a full-day training workshop on 5 March for 45 participants, many from partner organisation eThekwini Water and Sanitation, and involving similar utilities from neighbouring municipalities, hydropower developers, engineering firms, and financing agencies. Training was delivered through the Entura clean energy and water institute.

“The project has not only helped us understand what opportunities exist but also provides a framework for taking projects forward,” said Ednick Msweli, Head of eThekwini Water and Sanitation. “The training and documentation that has been delivered as part of this process will also help other municipalities in the region and perhaps even other African countries to undertake similar projects.”

Once implemented, the mini-hydro projects will also contribute to meeting renewable energy targets in South Africa.

About Entura

Entura is one of the world’s most experienced specialist power and water consulting firms. As part of Hydro Tasmania, Australia’s largest renewable energy producer and water manager, Entura is backed by more than 100 years of creating energy and maintaining power and water assets.

Entura supports governments, funding agencies and corporate clients across the Asia-Pacific region and Africa from offices in Australia, India and South Africa.

The Entura clean energy and water institute delivers training in hydro, wind, solar and water management. Its courses are tailored to upskill businesses, particularly asset owners, in clean energy technologies and water management. For more information visit entura.com.au

About REEEP

REEEP understands market change from a practice, policy and financial perspective. We monitor, evaluate and learn from our portfolio to understand opportunities and barriers to success within markets. These insights then influence policy, increase public and private investment, and inform our portfolio strategy to build scale within and replication across markets.

REEEP is committed to open access to knowledge to support entrepreneurship, innovation and policy improvements to empower market shifts across the developing world. For more information visit www.reeep.org/

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