All articles for the topic: infrastructure

Promoting Market-Based Deployment of Energy Efficiency Solutions in Municipal Waterworks: Pilot Initiative in South Africa

Municipal water supply and wastewater systems operate 24 hours a day and are among the largest consumers of electricity in municipalities. Electricity costs can amount to between 40 and 70 percent of total running costs of municipal water infrastructure. In countries with carbon-intensive electricity grids, water infrastructure consequently generates substantial CO2 emissions.

Press Release: Local Project Launch of ‘Climate Change, Clean Energy and Urban Water’ Project

Ms. Dessislava Choumelova of the EU Delegation to South Africa speaks at the project launch event

The project “Climate Change, Clean Energy and Urban Water” has entered its implementation phase, as was announced during an event at the Department of Environmental Affairs in Pretoria, South Africa last Friday. The 2.5-year project is funded by the EU, with UNIDO as Implementation Partner and REEEP as Execution Partner. The initiative promotes the market-based deployment of energy efficiency measures and clean energy technologies and services in municipal waterworks, commencing with pilot demonstration projects in South Africa.

Renewable Energy Africa Investment Summit

Energy Infrastructure offers some of the biggest potential business opportunities on the planet. A report published in October by the International Energy Agency predicted that half of Africa’s new power generation capacity added until 2040 will be green energy. The potential for renewable energy development in Africa has attracted growing attention lately, as investors and world leaders seek a new clean energy frontier. The continent could become a gold mine for renewable energy thanks to its abundant solar and wind resources, but roadblocks to clean energy which exist worldwide are amplified throughout the troubled regions of Africa - financial resources are thin and infrastructure is often unreliable.

Need Assessment Study of the South Asia Region

The South Asian region is evolving and growing at an exponential rate in terms of development and economic growth. Hence, it is placed critically in terms of matching the needs of the rising population as well as stabilizing and developing its economy. Agriculture, transport, and building sectors are the three sectors in the South Asian region which play a significant role in the economic development of the region. At the same time, these three sectors are also highly energy intensive. Therefore, it becomes critical to identify the energy requirements and suffice them through various clean energy alternatives, supported by innovative business models. 

Building power and water infrastructure capability in South Africa

Specialist power and water consulting firm Entura has identified opportunities for the South African city of Durban to increase its use of renewable energy, while at the same time driving down water infrastructure operating costs. Entura received a grant from the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), an international non-profit organisation, to identify opportunities to install mini-hydro (100kW to 1MW) on existing water supply infrastructure. The opportunities identified would enable generation of energy from renewable sources without the need for large and costly new infrastructure.

Water and waste water systems form the core infrastructure that underpins delivery of water and sanitation services in cities. With pumps and other equipment running 24 hours a day, they are also among the largest consumers of electricity in municipalities - and therefore generate substantial costs and CO2 emissions. As cities, particularly in the developing world, continue to grow rapidly, demand for water and wastewater services will continue to rise, increasing the pressure on underlying infrastructure. Decisive action is required to manage both the environmental and financial impacts of providing water and sanitation as essential services to growing urban populations.

Clean energy technologies and energy efficiency interventions can dramatically improve efficiency and reduce GHG emissions in urban water and wastewater infrastructure, and do so cost-effectively, with investment payback periods of often only a few years. However, municipalities often lack both the capacity and financial means to plan, fund and implement such interventions.

This 2.5-year pilot project seeks to catalyse commercial activity to reduce GHG emissions in municipal water and wastewater infrastructure. It does this by creating pathways to empower municipalities to build capacity, identify appropriate interventions, access finance and ultimately deploy clean energy technologies and systems in their water and waste water infrastructure.

The project is financed by the European Commission, with UNIDO as Implementation Partner and REEEP as Execution Partner. It works directly with two host municipalities in South Africa, and aims to create a solid base for replication across South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.


The Climate Change, Clean Energy and Urban Water project aims to tap into the enormous potential for energy efficiency gains and cost savings in African municipal water infrastructure. Our approach consists of four main parts:


Participating Municipalities

The two host municipalities participating in this pilot project are !Kheis Local Municipality and Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality. Our work with these municipalities has revealed that despite vast differences between them in terms of population size, geography and climatic conditions, in important respects they face similar challenges in their attempts to upgrade their water and waste water infrastructure. This suggests that a pathway that is useful to our technical collaborators within both municipalities may also be useful to the large number of other South African municipalities that have expressed interest in the project.


Project Activities

During the project’s inception phase, which ran until July 2017, the two pilot municipalities were selected and engaged. REEEP and its local partners developed technical assistance plans in consultation with both municipalities, which led to the identification of project sites for proposed clean energy interventions. Then, energy audits were carried out within the municipalities to develop a solid baseline for future interventions. The National Cleaner Production Center (NCPC) collaborated closely with REEEP to facilitate the energy audits and provide accredited energy training to the municipalities’ technical teams – a country first for South Africa.

In parallel with the technical work, REEEP has been running an intensive stakeholder engagement programme, including as of June 2018 four stakeholder roundtable events. These roundtables bring together, often for the first time, representatives of different departments in municipalities, the finance sector, private sector technology providers, key industry bodies and national government officials. Discussion topics have included barriers to greater engagement between municipalities and the private sector, the procurement pathways municipalities must navigate to implement energy efficiency measures in their water infrastructure, and sourcing appropriate finance for clean energy interventions. Lessons learned at these roundtables are integrated into a model pathway, that is: a series of actions to help guide the municipal sector to implement EE and CE solutions in its water and wastewater infrastructure. The integration of these lessons serves to ensure that project interventions will be of use to municipalities across the country. The learnings will also be leveraged in policy recommendations to the South African government, which will highlight project learnings to inform policy reform efforts to make it easier for municipalities to procure and fund clean energy improvements to their water and waste water infrastructure.

During the remainder of project implementation, we will continue to work closely with both pilot municipalities to implement fit-for-purpose clean energy and energy efficiency interventions therein and continue our capacity building efforts. We will also publish lessons learned, refine our policy recommendations through ongoing project learnings and host tailored events to help other municipalities across South Africa replicate successful project outcomes.



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Nicole Algio's picture

Nicole Algio

Regional Secretariat Manager - REEEP Southern Africa Secretariat

Thomas Duggan's picture

Thomas Duggan

Sustainable Finance Officer

Nombuso Ngcobo's picture

Nombuso Ngcobo

Project Officer

Equity and inclusion in disaster risk reduction: building resilience for all

This paper, by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) builds on the recently produced ‘The future framework for disaster risk reduction: a guide for decision-makers’. This new module brings together evidence on opportunities raised by adopting an inclusive approach to ensure effective DRR. The paper makes the case for increased attention to wider issues of vulnerability, inclusion and empowerment, which are needed to assist policy-makers and international agencies to negotiate the successor agreement to the HFA.

International Conference: Solutions for the Nexus

A conference for optimising infrastructure and technology to build partnerships for water, energy and food security.

Conference themes are: using the nexus to accelerate development; cleantech nexus infrastructure and technology solutions; collaboration and institutional arrangements for a nexus approach; influencing pathways of investment for nexus infrastructure and technology.



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