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Rainwater Harvesting systems in South Africa .

Water is our energy constraint, not coal

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 24 March 2010

Professor Anthony Turton, vice-president of the International Water Resource Association, explains how to beat the water crisis.

The media is abuzz with talk about the developmental state so I have tried to understand this rhetoric in the context of water.

If we think of national economic growth as an “S” curve on a graph, on which the vertical axis represents value and the horizontal axis time, then we can see that early development is slow as technology is mobilised. This manifests as a flat part of the curve. As the economy kicks into overdrive, the curve climbs rapidly, such as happened in South Africa during the latter part of the 20th century. This growth slows down, either because of external constraints, such as reduced global commodity demand, or as a result of internal constraints. It is my hypothesis that the South African economy has reached the upper part of this first “S” curve, of which two limitations are the most apparent from a biophysical perspective.

The first constraint is energy, which we all know about. The second is water, which few of us know about, but which is starting to become manifest in the public domain. Significantly, water is our energy constraint, not coal. It takes 1kg of coal and 1.35kg of water to produce one kilowatt hour of electricity with the technology used by Eskom.

So what are we to do? Continue reading Water is our energy constraint, not coal