Several countries across Africa face ongoing power delivery challenges, with municipalities struggling to meet the demands of citizens and businesses, and load shedding which has again become a harsh reality, particularly in South Africa.
A solution to these challenges will require the involvement of numerous stakeholders, but one power-saving solution has the potential to deliver significant efficiencies where they are needed most.
Power-saving water-pump solutions present municipalities with improved energy efficiencies that allow them to lower their demand on the national power grid and allocate much-needed energy resources elsewhere.
“While South Africa’s leadership looks for ways to create additional power generating capacity and contain costs, some key aspects of the solution are often neglected,” says Henning Sandager, newly appointed regional head for Grundfos in the Sub-Saharan Africa region.
“Water, wastewater removal and electricity are the main services that municipalities deliver,” he says. “Bringing water to end users, the removal and treatment of wastewater, and the production of energy requires a lot of pumping.
Throughout this process, massive energy optimisation and cost savings can easily be realised,” he says. Sandager adds that water pump systems account for a staggering 10% of the world’s electrical energy consumption, however, switching to energy efficient pumps, can save up to 50% of that energy.
According to the United Nations, access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy is crucial to achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Energy access, however, varies widely across countries and the current rate of progress falls short of what is required to achieve this goal. Redoubled efforts will be needed, particularly in countries with large energy access deficits and high energy consumption.
South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) has also targeted efficient energy provision. Outcome 6 sets out to achieve the following: ‘In 2030, South Africa’s network of robust infrastructure is the bedrock of growth and job creation. This infrastructure efficiently delivers electricity, water, sanitation, telecoms and transport services, powers the economy, and supports manufacturing, trade and exports. More than that, it gives citizens the means to improve their lives and boost local economies.’
Moving across to solutions like those delivered by Grundfos would put municipalities in a favourable position to contribute to this NDP outcome, to reduce the financial burden, and benefit the communities they serve. Sandager points out that the more municipalities save on energy, the more they can deliver in other areas and help to grow the economy.
For instance, smart technologies such as the Grundfos Demand Driven Distribution pressure control system demonstrate how municipalities can reduce both water and power consumption by up to 20%. This is achieved by automatically monitoring grid use patterns with remote sensors and adjusting water pressure accordingly to deliver optimal water pressure at any given time.
The savings are measurable in practice – as cited in a report on how the Copenhagen municipality successfully managed to cut its annual water consumption by nearly half over a few decades. This same smart technology was applied by the municipality of Bucharest. In this Romanian capital, one of four water supply zones providing water to over 200 000 citizens, reduced water losses from 50% to 30% over 10 years by installing new pumps, replacing pipes and dropping pressure at night. While water leakage was reduced significantly, the municipality was surprised by the substantial energy savings accrued.
These are just a few examples of how municipalities around the world are getting smart and adjusting operations to efficient distribution systems, proving substantial reductions in water leakage losses and energy costs.
“It is these types of savings we are committed to bringing to municipalities, industries and businesses around the world,” says Sandager. “With our range of energy-efficient water pump solutions, municipalities should take advantage of the latest technologies available to them to help solve their most pressing challenges.”