Hydropower brings relief

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SELLWANE KHAKHAU

A new energy plant that supplies water to various Free State municipalities including Mangaung Metro, Naledi and Kopanong, will contribute significantly in reducing the pressure that Eskom is facing with electricity supply. With the country experiencing ongoing challenges of electricity shortage, citizens have continuously been urged by Eskom to switch off unnecessary electronics to save energy.

The aim of the project is to enable administrators of bulk water supply and distribution systems to install small-scale hydropower systems to generate hydroelectricity and in this way relieve Eskom from supply to the specific plant. This technology has proven to be a huge success in converting to a sustainable energy source as the main supply of energy for operating the Bloemwater head office in Pellissier. It supplies 96kW/h of energy from a pressurised conduit to power up its operational facilities, with full capacity of 360kW.

Bloemfontein’s new conduit hydropower plant was launched in Bloemfontein on Tuesday. The project, which cost over three million rand, started in August 2013 and was completed on 27 November last year.

CEO of Bloemwater, Dr Limakatso Moorosi, says although this initiative will not have a direct effect on load shedding, it will have a significant impact on the country’s energy supply by Eskom.

"The plant will considerably reduce the pressure currently faced by Eskom from Bloemwater’s side. We will assist in electricity consumption reduction, especially at the head offices of Bloemwater," she said.

Moorosi explained how the plant works in this regard. "Water to be pumped and processed in the plant, consumes a lot of energy from Eskom. So the plant will be helpful in a sense that it will be generating its own energy instead of relying on Eskom," she explained.

The plant is one of the first ever conduit hydropower plants in the country. It is located at the Bloemwater’s Brandkop Resevoir in Bloemfontein. Currently, the largest present installation involves the Caledon-Bloemfontein potable water supply system, which supplies the majority of the water demand in Bloemfontein.

The official launch of the plant was held on Tuesday, when it was officially opened by the minister of water and sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane. Other stakeholders in this initiative include the Water Research Commission, University of Pretoria, City of Tshwane and eThekwini municipality.

sellwane@centralmediagroup.co.za