Opportunities for the South African city of Durban to increase its use of renewable energy, while at the same time driving down water infrastructure operating costs, have been identified in new research.Ethekwini

Consulting firm Entura, using a €148 000 grant from the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), considered installation of mini-hydro (100 kW to 1 MW) on existing water supply infrastructure. The project was co-funded by eThekwini Water and Sanitation, a service unit of Durban City Council.

‘The potential for mini-hydro to transform the energy mix in many cities is considerable. This project is setting the stage for not only Durban, but the wider region as well,’ said Eva Oberender, Director of Programme at REEEP.

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

‘Infrastructure owners who invest in mini-hydro as an add-on to their core business can offset their own electricity costs by using the energy generated to run part of their operations, or could earn extra revenue by putting the energy into the local grid.’