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The water-energy nexus in the context of climate change: investigating trade-offs between water use efficiency and renewable energy options for South Africa
Expanded Title:Rationale Water is a major driver of social and economic development for any nation. Nevertheless, access to fresh and adequate water is limited in many parts of the world, particularly in developing countries. As an arid and developing country, South Africa (SA) is faced with water resource challenges, such as issues of water shortage and quality. There is also a mounting pressure on the limited water resources due to economic and population growth, which will be exacerbated by the onset of climate change. It is perceived that the energy sector is one of the main contributors to water quality and high water use, through the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas), the discharge of poorly treated wastewater, and the emission of greenhouse gases that cause climate change. SA has abundant reserves of coal, and coal-fired thermal power plants currently generate most of the electricity. In addition, fossil fuels are getting depleted, thereby decreasing energy security. Moreover, the demand for energy is also increasing. Consequently, there is a need to transform the country’s energy mix in order to minimise negative impacts on water resources and mitigate the harmful effects of climate change. In view of this, SA is making some policy and regulatory shifts, in line with international developments, to address these environmental challenges. Renewable energy is being promoted as one way of achieving sustainable energy provision in the country, with a target of 10 000 GWh of energy to come from various renewable resources by 2013 (DME 2003). The Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff (REFIT) was introduced in 2009 and later, in 2011, revised to the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) with a competitive bidding process. Under this programme, the power generated by the independent power producers is fed to the national grid through a power purchase agreement (PPA). Nevertheless, some issues require close scrutiny in order to understand the water requirements of renewable energy production in the country. Due to the large gap that exists between water supply and demand, trade-offs in water allocation amongst different users and energy resources are critical. Aim and objectives The aim of this study was to investigate trade-offs between water use efficiency and renewable energy in SA. The objectives were to: a) Investigate renewable energy choices and their water requirements in SA. b) Investigate the degree to which the SA policy and regulatory instruments enable integrated approaches to long term energy and water resource choices that could stimulate resilience to climate change. c) Recommend a policy framework that links (or ensures a balance between) efficient water use and energy production under changing climatic conditions. d) Determine challenges and opportunities which could inform policies and planning towards initiatives that enhance the climate change adaptation capacity of people living in areas under climate related water scarcity by using adequate renewable energy technologies. e) Map out renewable energy supply sources and overall energy demand over a long term planning horizon that are appropriate. f) Assess the trade-offs between resource choices (renewable energy production and the efficiency in water use within parameters of adaptation to climate change). g) Develop and adapt a scenario framework (or toolbox) designed to reflect various renewable energy sources and water demand to ensure a balanced and efficient water use in SA.
Date Published:01/03/2016
Document Type:Research Report
Document Subjects:Drinking water - Water supply
Document Keywords:Policy and regulation, Water Quality
Document Format:Report
Document File Type:pdf
Research Report Type:Standard
WRC Report No:2239/1/16
ISBN No:978-1-4312-0753-4
Authors:Madhlopa A; Pegram G; Sauka S; Sparks A; Keen S; Moorlach M
Project No:K5/2239
Originator:WRC
Organizations:University of Cape Town; Pegasys Strategic Management
Document Size:10 001 KB
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