The French government and the Western Cape provincial government have committed to invest R9m on a 50-50 basis in the country’s first solar-powered desalination plant, at Witsand in the Hessaqua municipality.
There are at least four desalination plants in the drought-hit province, with three in Cape Town and one in Mossel Bay, but the one in Witsand will be the first to be powered by solar energy. Desalination plants are very energy intensive and when fossil fuels are used to generate the energy, this comes with carbon dioxide emissions and contributes to climate change.
French ecology minister Nicolas Hulot attended the launch of the project on Monday together with Western Cape finance MEC Ivan Meyer. The project will be commissioned at the end of October.
Meyer said the drought-hit Witsand community suffered severe water shortages during the summer months when holiday makers flocked to the town. The plant will deliver 100kl of fresh water daily.
The Osmosun technology, developed by French company Mascara Renewable Water and brought to SA by their local partner, TWS-Turnkey Water Solutions, is the world’s first reverse osmosis desalination technology coupled with photovoltaic solar energy without batteries. It is designed to supply coastal or borehole-dependent communities with drinking water.