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Grey Water
Rainwater Harvesting systems in South Africa .

Electricity production places water resources at risk

Coal mining is of particular risk to ground water resources

An environmental report has found that the use of water in electricity production is having a negative impact on the water resources for the country and may have long-term detrimental effects.

The Water Hungry Coal: Burning South Africa’s water to produce electricity report produced by environmental organisation Greenpeace argues that the use of coal to produce electricity has resulted in an unsustainable outlook for South Africa’s water.

“Ironically, burning coal to produce electricity is an incredibly water intensive process, with a number of serious implications for both water quantity and quality,” Greenpeace said.

In Eskom’s latest system status bulletin, the utility says that peak demand on Monday was 31 366MW which it met through running at near capacity of 34 250MW.

The utility has been under strain this year as it has been forced to conduct maintenance while avoiding the rolling blackouts that crippled the country in 2008.

“The demand is increasing and we have not invested early enough,” Eskom CEO Brian Dames told News24. “Some of our power plants are 30 and 35 years old; they have to be maintained.” Continue reading Electricity production places water resources at risk

Eskom aims to reduce water consumption

IOL Londiwe Buthelezi

Eskom aims to reduce its water consumption by 260 billion litres a year by 2030. The utility said the alternative technologies used at its new power stations would reduce the water requirement to 270 billion litres by next year. The company would have needed 530 billion litres to operate its coal-fired stations had the new measures not been put in place.

Medupi and Kusile intend to use dry-cooling technology, which will reduce water consumption by as much as 90 percent

Eskom consumed 327 billion litres of water in the 2010/11 financial year. It used about 1.35 litres of water to generate a kilowatt-hour of electricity, making Eskom responsible for about 2 percent of South Africa’s fresh water usage.

But the roll-out of dry cooling and alternative technologies will see Eskom bring down water consumption relative to power produced to 0.99 litres a kilowatt-hour by 2030.

South Africa is a water-stressed country and environmental groups have previously challenged the building of Eskom’s new coal plants, citing water competition they would bring to local communities.

However, in its “Eskom factor” report, the utility said both Medupi and Kusile would use dry-cooling technology. This would reduce water consumption per unit of electricity produced by as much as 90 percent.

“They are dry cooled, so (they) use only about a tenth of the water that conventional wet-cooled power stations require. So this is why we say Medupi and Kusile are ‘cleaner coal’ than our older coal-fired stations,” Eskom spokeswoman Hilary Joffe said. Continue reading Eskom aims to reduce water consumption

Major water risk

One big drought in the Vaal River catchment area over the next eight years could jeopardise the region’s agricultural and industrial output, senior Eskom and Sasol managers have warned.

Eskom uses 330 million cubic metres of water a year to keep its power stations running

Speaking at the end of the World Water Forum in Marseille, France, they said the period from now until 2020, when Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) starts delivering water to the Vaal, was one of “major risk”.

While a drought would not necessarily pose a threat to the two corporations’ ability to generate power and manufacture fuel – both Eskom and Sasol are deemed “strategic water users” and unlikely to have their supply curtailed – the same would not apply to others.

Particularly vulnerable would be large industrial water users, agriculture and municipalities located in and around the country’s economic heartland, Gauteng.

Eskom’s general manager for water and environmental operations, Nandha Govender, told Sapa a drought would see the region “pushing the boundaries” of available water supply.

“The capacity of the Vaal system is a major risk. We see the crucial period being between now and 2020, when Phase II of the LHWP starts delivering water.

“The risk lies with large industrial water users, agriculture and the municipalities… It’s a situation we don’t want to get into.”

Govender also said although 2020 was the date set by government for Phase II to start delivering more water to the region, large projects of this nature often missed such targets, and the first water might only start flowing from Lesotho in 2021, or 2022. Continue reading Major water risk

SA climate delegation justified

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 22 June 2011

A delegation at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, represented the “very best capacity” in the country, the government said on Friday.

NGO GroundWork criticised the inclusion of Sasol and Eskom in the UN Climate Change Conference

It was reacting to criticism – levelled earlier this week by the NGO GroundWork – about the inclusion of representatives from petrochemicals giant Sasol and electricity utility Eskom in the delegation.

In a statement on Wednesday, GroundWork said the inclusion of Sasol and Eskom representatives “simply boggles the mind”.

“How can the two companies, who together account for the majority of South Africa’s emissions, and who do so profitably, be tasked with charting a low-carbon future for the country?”

The environment affairs department defended the composition of government’s negotiating team.

“The policy governing the composition of the South African delegation for all UN climate change meetings and conferences of parties is constituted with representatives of government, business, civil society, labour and Salga (local government) representatives, and also includes representative with specific skills, particularly from the South African scientific community. Continue reading SA climate delegation justified

New Eskom power station to use coal-to-gas technology

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 29 May 2011

Eskom wants to build a new 2 100MW power station, making use of new underground coal-to-gas technology.

Eskom's test project at Majuba power station contributes 3MW of power to total output

Since 2007 the power utility has been working on the technology and hopes to start designing the new macro power station by December. This week Barry MacColl, Eskom’s manager for technology, strategy and planning, told Sake24 that the success of the technology has already been demonstrated. The trials had produced satisfactory results and the potential was tremendous, he said.

In the technology process two shafts are drilled into underground coal reserves. Then the coal – which is underground – is set alight. The burning coal releases, through the one shaft, a flammable gas which is collected and redirected to gas turbines that generate electricity.

MacColl said the underground reaction is controlled by regulating the quantity of oxygen being pumped into the one shaft, and the process can be altered by cutting off the oxygen supply.

Eskom’s test project at the Majuba power station is already contributing 3MW of power to Majuba’s total output.

Chris Yelland, an independent engineering analyst, said that very little is still publicly known about the technology. The technology was developed in the Soviet Union and used there, he explained. The biggest experts in this area would be Russians. Continue reading New Eskom power station to use coal-to-gas technology