SA first solar powered desalination under construction

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South Africa’s first solar powered desalination plant is in production. The plant will make use of reverse osmosis technology to produce 100 kilolitres of drinking water per day. It’s situated at Witsand in the Hessequa Municipality,  Western Cape.

Witsand is small fishing community located more than three hours’ from Cape Town. The local population of about 300 swells to over 4000 during the peak tourist season. This leaves the village with severe water shortages.

The project is a first for South Africa and aims to provide the fishing village with its daily water requirements.

Western Cape Finance Minister, Ivan Meyer says “This is a R9 million project, half of it will come from the Western Cape government and half will come from the french government but there is also some contributions from the Hessequa municipality, I have recently visited the site and i am certain that through this partnership we will be able to fund this project.”

The solar-powered desalination plant will be located on a site of roughly 800 square metres. It’s expected to produce clean drinking water by using French OSMOSUN technology. The French Minister of Ecology, Nicolas Hulot, says the project goes a long way to mitigate the effects of climate change.

“The water situation is probably the most important challenge we have in this century. So we have to add our out technology toward our intelligence and also our financial input. This project here could be a project that could be replicable everywhere in South Africa and in the whole world.”

With a 72,5 kilowatt peak, the plant is expected to run completely on solar-powered energy, but will tap into the power grid during the busy tourist season. The municipal manger of the Hessequa Municipality, Johan Jacobs, has welcomed the initiative.

“This plant will supply just from the solar PV plant supply 100 kilolitres of water per day but with the assistance of the electricity it can supply up to 300 kilolitres per day.”

The plant, a prototype is expected to be operating by the middle of next year.