South Africa to get its first solar-powered desalination plant

The plant, located in Witsand in the Western Cape, will be the commissioned at the end of October.

The first solar-powered desalination plant in South Africa will be commissioned by the end of October at Witsand, a village that is suffering from critical water shortages, George Herald reports.

The plant will produce 100kl of freshwater a day. It will be powered by solar energy only.

READ MORE: Cape Town company turns to desalination process to alleviate drought

The project was initiated by Prof Erwin Schwella, professor of Public Leadership at Stellenbosch, and Tilburg University, in collaboration with Hessequa Municipality.

According to a media release, it will be a cost-effective plant that features an intelligent system of membranes that enables the plant to cope with variations in solar power availability. The system ensures the best energy performance and simultaneously guarantees the maximum lifetime of the installation and the membranes, according to the statement.

The project is co-funded by the Western Cape government through the drought relief fund, and by the French Treasury through a fund dedicated to the implementation of innovative green technologies.

The plant offers the possibility to supply drinking water outside of sunlight hours through connecting to the local electricity grid. This feature will also be used during the December holiday peak period when the daily production capacity will be upped to 300kl.

The technology, OSMOSUN®, developed by the French company, Mascara Renewable Water and brought to South Africa by their local partner, Turnkey Water Solutions (TWS), is the world’s first reverse osmosis desalination technology coupled with photovoltaic solar energy without batteries.

It was designed to supply coastal or borehole-dependent communities with drinking water at a competitive price and without CO2 emissions.

Hessequa executive mayor Grant Riddles said the shortage of water in the Western Cape is a harsh reality and through this project, the municipality is utilising innovative ideas in combating the effects of climate change.

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