Saving Energy Helps Eswatini’s Water Utility Cut Costs and Emissions
Between 2019 and 2021, the Eswatini Water Services Corporation (EWSC) established an Energy Management Committee, installed process and energy meters, and procured equipment to reduce electricity demand at its three main water pumping stations. The changes and ongoing investments will result in energy savings of up to 20 percent with a corresponding reduction in supply costs and support Eswatini’s goal of universal access to clean water by 2030.
There is a direct link between energy and water supply. Water utilities operate pumps and treatment plants around the clock, and need large amounts of electricity to distribute clean water to consumers. Incorporating cost-effective and energy-efficient practices into water and wastewater treatment plants benefits utilities, consumers, and the environment.
To treat and pump water to its customers, the EWSC incurs high energy costs. These costs can comprise more than 40 percent of the total expenditure on operations and maintenance. Measures to reduce these costs aim to make water more affordable for low-income residents. In this way, increased energy efficiency by EWSC contributes to the country’s broader social, economic, and environmental goals. Carbon emissions go down, and the freed-up electricity becomes available to serve the economy and provide access to more households. Common energy efficiency measures in water utilities include replacing inefficient pumps, implementing leak reduction and pressure management technologies, shifting peak water treatment production hours away from peak energy periods, and streamlining operations.
Saving Energy, Saving Water, Saving Money
The 2019 energy efficiency audit of EWSC identified opportunities to reduce the electricity costs of water supply. Power Africa assisted EWSC to identify sites with the highest potential for efficiency gains. In working sessions and a workshop, 32 participants from EWSC discussed the findings, conclusions, and recommendations after these interactions, which culminated in a comprehensive report. EWSC implemented several of Power Africa’s short-term recommendations. In particular, it appointed an energy management team to continuously and systematically monitor performance, review operating procedures, and find ways to reduce electricity costs, especially at pump stations.
Based on the audit’s recommendations, EWSC adopted technology improvements to reduce electricity costs. The utility installed intelligent energy and process meters at selected water pumping and treatment facilities with a high potential for energy efficiency gains. These meters help the water utility monitor and continuously review its operating procedures to reduce energy consumption and operating costs. With Power Africa’s technical assistance, EWSC complemented the equipment investments with new and improved data collection, analysis, and reporting systems. These systems will inform EWSC’s future decisions on working procedures and investments to maximize gains from the energy efficiency program. EWSC also set about to procure power factor correction equipment for large pump motors. This equipment will save EWSC enough money on electricity bills to recoup its investments in less than two years. In 2020, the enhanced energy efficiency management focus and the equipment investments saved EWSC over 5,100 megawatt-hours, a 20-percent reduction compared to the previous year.
Setting Up an Energy Management System
In 2021, Power Africa conducted capacity-building activities that helped EWSC implement an energy management system. Between March and December 2021, Power Africa held working sessions with EWSC, executives, engineers, and technicians to promote an unbroken chain of coordination. The Managing Director of EWSC, Jabulile Mashwama, an engineer with a background in energy efficiency, also participated. As a result of Power Africa’s assistance, EWSC is able to manage the utility more efficiently and is monitoring improvements in monetary and energy savings.
“A considerable amount of work went into putting the energy-saving measures at EWSC in place. I want to extend my deepest gratitude to the USAID Southern Africa Energy Program (SAEP), a Power Africa initiative, who have held our hand since we started this process. We’re especially grateful to SAEP for imparting their knowledge and making sure the knowledge stays with us. A key motivation is to learn something new and equip our people to understand and deal with energy management. This alone has already led to positive results,” Jabulile Mashwama, EWSC Managing Director.