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|You are here:||Comments and remarks to Wim Jonker Klunne|
|There are two major river systems in South
Africa - the Orange (including its main tributary, the Vaal River) which
flows westward into the Atlantic Ocean and forms part of South Africa's
border with Namibia, and the Limpopo, which flows eastward into Mozambique
toward the Indian Ocean and forms part of South Africa's border with Botswana
and Zimbabwe. Besides these, there are many smaller rivers in the southern
part of the country that flow southward into either the Indian or Atlantic
South Africa has an average rainfall of 500mm, which is low by world standards. This, combined with the seasonal flow of the country’s rivers and frequent droughts or floods, limits opportunities for hydropower. The country’s potential for hydropower is concentrated in a few areas along the eastern escarpment where there are 6,000 to 8,000 potential sites.
Table 2 reflects an overall assessment of all hydropower types in South Africa, taking into consideration both conventional and unconventional approaches. Unconventional hydropower development can take place in both rural and urban areas of South Africa by means of tapping hydropower from irrigation canals, bulk water supply pipelines, deep mining undertakings, etc. To date, there is practically no account of significant unconventional hydropower development in South Africa with the exception of the mining industry, which is using hydropower for conversion into mechanical energy.
The extent of investigation conducted leads to the conclusion that the present installed hydropower in South Africa reached a capacity of 2,267 MW, generating on average annually about 4,368 GWh. This represents about 2,3% of the total energy output in South Africa.
In the past, the theoretical hydropower potential of South Africa was estimated at some 8,360 MW or 54,925 GWh per annum at a 75% of loading. As can be seen from Table 2, the estimate of firm potential (i.e. an estimate based on reliable input sources and extensive research) for hydropower development in South Africa, stands at 12,160 MW, which is about 45% higher that any other previous estimate. However, the major component of this new estimate is a potential for development of seven pumped storage sites investigated as firmly feasible by ESKOM.
It is important to acknowledge that the firm macro and micro hydropower potential of South Africa is 5 times bigger than the presently installed hydropower capacity.
Table 2: Total Capacity and Potential for All Hydropower Types
The table indicates that some 5,160 MW
of additional renewable hydropower can potentially be exploited from rural
and urban hydropower resources, for either electrical or mechanical energy
conversion. Although it is unlikely that this hydropower potential will
be ever fully exploited, increases in the price of electricity and various
other local and international influences may initiate the process that
some of this untapped hydropower will be gradually utilised. Nevertheless,
appropriate incentives and suitable educational programmes can certainly
contribute to speeding up the process.