Johannesburg water looks to reduce grid dependency

The water authority for South Africa’s largest city is looking to combined heat and power (CHP) as a means of reducing its dependency on the country’s national grid.

Johannesburg Water SOC Ltd. plans to expand power capacity from a biogas plant almost fourfold.

  The combined heat and power generation plant at the Northern waste water treatment works uses sewage sludge and has 1.2 MW of generation capacity, reducing Johannesburg Water’s need for power from provider Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. by 15 per cent, Karl Juncker, managing director of WEC Projects (Pty) Ltd., which designed and built the plant, told reporters in the city yesterday.

  “We plan to build more plants and expand to about 4.5 MW in the next four to five years,” which could cut Johannesburg Water’s electricity requirement from Eskom by as much as 60 per cent, Junker said.

  The cost of the facility, which has been producing electricity for a year, and a second plant at the Driefontein water works is about $7m, WEC said in an e-mailed statement.

Chronic electricity shortages are a problem in South Africa where suspension of mines and factories occurred in 2008.

The government reacted by introducing a programme to boost generation by awarding contracts to build wind, solar and biomass plants. The renewable-energy drive is used to cut reliance on coal, which it uses for 80 per cent of power generation.

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