By Herman Viljoen, GM Renewables and Storage at NEC XON.
NEC XON Systems, which positions itself as a leading provider of innovative energy solutions, has partnered with the Lebalelo Water User Association (LWUA) to introduce an emergency Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) at the Clapham pump station in Limpopo. This collaboration aims to mitigate the risk of water reservoirs running dry due to potential electricity shortages, ensuring a consistent water supply to communities and commercial users across the Sekhukhune District Municipality and the Mogalakwena Local Municipality.
Water security for 105 communitiesEstablished in 2002, LWUA has been successfully operating and maintaining bulk raw water infrastructure known as the 'Lebalelo Scheme' for over two decades. Covering a distance of 110km, the Lebalelo Scheme intersects 105 communities within the Sekhukhune District Municipality, supplying raw water to the mining sector and local communities.
To address the growing water demand in the region and alleviate pressure on the over-allocated Flag Boshielo Dam, the Olifants River Water Resources Development Project (ORWRDP) was conceptualised by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). In a joint effort between LWUA and the government, represented by DWS, the Olifants Management Model (OMM) Programme was formed. The OMM Programme focuses on expediting the construction of potable and bulk raw water infrastructure, supplying targeted communities and commercial users across the Sekhukhune District Municipality and the Mogalakwena Local Municipality. As part of this programme, LWUA and NEC XON Systems are collaborating to enhance the water supply infrastructure.
Battery backup for critical pump infrastructureRecognising the risk of water reservoirs running dry at the Clapham pump station, LWUA engaged NEC XON Systems to install an emergency BESS solution. NEC XON Systems supplied and installed a 3.4MWh SolarMD containerised BESS solution at the Clapham pump station. The solution included two 1MW AEG inverters, two 630kVA transformers, electrical cabling, panels and integration, along with variable frequency drives for the 500kVA pumps. The BESS solution enables the Clapham pump station to operate in an off-grid mode for approximately four hours, ensuring continuous water supply to LWUA users in Limpopo.
Speaking at the launch of the OMM Programme in Limpopo in October 2022, the Chairperson of LWUA, Prakashim Moodliar, confirmed: “The OMM Programme will bring water for economic growth, not only to industry, but to the communities that we operate in. We hope this model helps become the catalyst for many similar infrastructure programmes.”
The strategic pump station plays a crucial role in linking the Steelpoort River to the Havercroft Weir, with plans to connect it to the Olifantspoort Weir, spanning over 100km of water pipeline infrastructure and pumping capacity. Without a backup power supply system, the risk of water scarcity due to potential electricity shortages becomes a significant concern.
In his keynote address at the launch event, Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, recognised the project as a huge milestone in South Africa’s democracy. “This partnership represents a new era in water service delivery. It represents a leap in qualitative transformation in South Africa and we are proud of it,” said Mchunu.
Herman Viljoen, GM Renewables and Storage at NEC XON Systems, expressed his enthusiasm for the collaboration: "We are proud to partner with LWUA to enhance water supply infrastructure in Limpopo. By leveraging our cutting-edge BESS technology, we can mitigate the risk of water scarcity and ensure uninterrupted water supply to communities and commercial users. This collaboration demonstrates our commitment to sustainable and reliable energy solutions that positively impact lives."