Durban sees potential for small hydro on existing infrastructure

A grant from the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) has been used to identify opportunities to install 100 kW to 1 MW hydropower projects on existing infrastructure in Durban.

The US$160,600 grant was co-funded by eThekwini Water and Sanitation, which is a service unit of the city’s council, and allowed water consulting firm Entura to perform the assessment.

The goal of the study was to both increase Durban’s use of renewables and decrease its water infrastructure operating costs.

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

The report focused on the economic viability of installing small hydroelectric projects on existing infrastructure like pipelines and reservoirs.

“We found there is a scope for utilities to add value to their existing operations, with mini hydro projects of less than 1 MW providing viable opportunities,” Entura project manager Rik Van Der Kley said. “However, greater returns and investment opportunities exist for larger municipalities where projects in the 1 MW to 2 MW range could be developed.”

The project culminated with a full-day training Entura workshop that was attended by 45 participants — many from partner eThiekwini Water and Sanitation, and other neighboring cities, hydro developers, engineering firms and financing agencies.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for

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