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

Beaufort Gyre could cool Europe

A huge pool of fresh water in the Arctic Ocean is expanding and could lower the temperature of Europe by causing an ocean current to slow down, British scientists said on Sunday.

The Beaufort Gyre ("rotating pattern") slowly swirls the surface waters of the Arctic basin, turning the Polar Ice Cap along with it. It makes one complete rotation about every 4 years

Using satellites to measure sea surface height from 1995 to 2010, scientists from University College London and Britain’s National Oceanography Centre found that the western Arctic’s sea surface has risen by about 150mm since 2002.

The volume of fresh water has increased by at least 8 000km³, or about 10% of all the fresh water in the Arctic Ocean. The fresh water comes from melting ice and river run-off.

The rise could be due to strong Arctic winds increasing an ocean current called the Beaufort Gyre, making the sea surface bulge upwards.

The Beaufort Gyre is one of the least understood bodies of water on the planet. It is a slowly swirling body of ice and water north of Alaska, about 10 times bigger than Lake Michigan in the United States.

Some scientists believe the natural rhythms of the gyre could be affected by global warming which could have serious implications for the ocean’s circulation and rising sea levels.

Climate models have suggested that wind blowing on the surface of the sea has formed a raised dome in the middle of the Beaufort Gyre, but there have been few in-depth studies to confirm this. Continue reading

World food supply warning

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 31 May 2011

Oxfam called on Tuesday for an overhaul of the world’s food system, warning that in a couple of decades, millions more people would be gripped by hunger due to population growth and climate-hit harvests.

The price of staple foods will more than double in the next 20 years

A “broken food system” means that the price of some staples will more than double by 2030, battering the world’s poorest people, who spend up to 80% of their income on food, the British-based aid group predicted.

“The food system is buckling under intense pressure from climate change, ecological degradation, population growth, rising energy prices, rising demand for meat and dairy products and competition for land from biofuels, industry, and urbanisation,” Oxfam said in a report.

“The international community is sleepwalking into an unprecedented and avoidable human development reversal,” it added.

Noting that some 900 million people experience hunger today, Oxfam said the tally of misery could rise still further when a “perfect storm” struck a few decades from now. Continue reading

SA cities must prepare for water demand

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

South African cities need to prepare for rapidly increasing oil prices, unpredictable rainfall patterns and fresh water demand, according to a State of the Cities Report released on Wednesday.

Cape Town needs to prepare for fresh water demand challenges

“City managers, responsible for acting in the best interests of their citizens, must take proactive steps to improve the ecological resilience of cities so that the metros become life-supporting systems,” Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Yunus Carrim, said at the launch of the report in Johannesburg.

“South African cities need to prepare themselves for rapidly increasing prices of oil and dependent products, erratic and unpredictable rainfall patterns as a result of climate change as well as fresh water demand amongst other challenges.”

Carrim said the report by the department’s South African Cities Network – a partnership between cities that encourages the exchange of information – stressed the need to significantly reduce the racial spatial patterns of cities and improve the density of the population to encourage greater integration, lower transport costs and more effective use of limited energy resources.

“For the cities to be more effective in the future they will require much more support from provincial and national government as part of a more integrated co-operative governance system,” Carrim said.

– Sapa

Where does our water come from?

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 23 March 2011

“South Africa needs to be more sensible about the use and management of land and water resources. The more we reduce the ecosystems’ ability to deliver clean fresh water, the less water secure we will be and the greater the cost we will have to pay for our water,” says Mark Botha, Head of WWF’s conservation programmes.

We need to concentrate more of our efforts on catchment security. Photo by: Peter Chadwick

This week (20-27 March) marks South Africa’s National Water Week 2011, and the theme for this year is, “Water for cities: addressing the urban water challenge.”

“Many South Africans, especially those living in urban areas do not have a full understanding of where the water that flows from their taps really comes from, and the key role clean catchments play in providing it,” says Botha.

“Cape Town has run out of water many times in the last century. Each time an expensive “supply side” solution was found to buy us more time, but always at a cost. Now, with augmentation (further water supply) options rapidly diminishing, we’re finding that the biggest cost of dams is the complacency that they leave us with as ratepayers.”

“At some point, we need to realise that we cannot only continue building more dams and other water infrastructure, but that it is imperative to invest in the natural resources that we already have. We need to concentrate more of our efforts on catchment security,” says Botha. Continue reading