Reeep Annual
Report 2022
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Climate Change, Clean Energy and Urban Water in South Africa

Empowering municipalities to build capacity, identify appropriate interventions, access finance and ultimately deploy clean energy technologies and systems in their water infrastructure.

Full Film: Climate Change, Clean Energy and Urban Water in Africa


Water and waste water systems form the core infrastructure that underpins delivery of water and sanitation services in cities. With pumps and other systems running 24 hours a day, they are also among the largest consumers of electricity in municipalities – and therefore generate substantial costs and greenhouse gas 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 staff capacity and the financial means to plan, fund and implement such interventions.


The Climate Change, Clean Energy and Urban Water in Africa project, funded by the European Commission, implemented by UNIDO and executed by REEEP, aimed to empower South African municipalities to upgrade their water infrastructure with clean energy and energy efficiency solutions, to reduce energy use, costs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and improve service delivery.

The project, which wrapped up in July 2019, created pathways to empower municipalities to build capacity, identify appropriate interventions, access finance and ultimately deploy clean energy technologies and systems in their water infrastructure. The pilot project was implemented in two disparate municipalities in South Africa, Nelson Mandela Bay in Eastern Cape and !Kheis in Northern Cape.

REEEP and its local partners developed technical action plans with both host municipalities, which, based on detailed energy usage data collected through energy audits, led to the selection of high-impact technical interventions at their waterworks sites. Each municipality also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Cleaner Production Center (NCPC), which joined the project to provide accredited energy training to the municipalities’ technical teams.

Our work with these two municipalities has revealed that, despite the vast difference in population and municipal budgets, they face similar challenges. They could apply similar approaches to overcoming these challenges and successfully implementing clean energy interventions. The best practice advice developed based on experiences in the two municipalities was therefore useful to most municipalities in the country and created a solid base for replication across sub-Saharan Africa.

Aerial view of the Fishwater Flats Waste Water Treatment Works in Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality. Credit: Charles Meadows for REEEP


Our approach consisted of four main parts:
  1. Building capacity: The project provided training to municipal technical managers to help them identify, procure, finance, install and operate fit-for-purpose clean energy interventions in municipal water infrastructure.
  2. Laying foundations: The project assisted municipalities in carrying out energy audits and other baseline studies, so that technical interventions can be identified and selected based on reliable data, and any energy and cost savings proven.
  3. Connecting stakeholders: The project created opportunities for representatives of municipalities, the private sector, financiers and government to meet and discuss challenges and opportunities, improve mutual understanding and remove barriers for future cooperation.
  4. Untangling procurement processes: The project helped municipal technical managers identify and navigate the procurement pathways that must be followed to upgrade their water and wastewater infrastructure, and facilitates a dialogue with private sector stakeholders to enable them to respond effectively to municipal tenders.


The Fishwater Flats Waste Water Treatment Works in Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality. The project helped the municipality install an energy metering system to better monitor the energy use and functioning of some of the plant’s key assets.

Credit: Charles Meadows for REEEP

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality includes Port Elizabeth, South Africa’s sixth largest city and a major industrial hub. The technical intervention under this project centred on the Fishwater Flats Waste Water Treatment Works which processes 67% of the municipality’s wastewater – 120 million litres per day. An estimated 70% of the energy used by the site is consumed by 70 motors used to aerate sludge – a step in the wastewater treatment process which allows bacteria to filter out organic matter.  The treatment works aimed to replace these motors with new technology providing a more precise and vastly more efficient method for aerating sludge. The intervention required gathering data on energy use, so that savings can be calculated and investments in upgrades justified.

The Fishwater Flats site did not have equipment to measure the energy use of its different assets over time, though, and monitored only the site’s total energy use. With the assistance of this project, the municipality installed sophisticated energy meters for the sludge mixers, a significant first step towards making this process much more energy efficient. For the first time, technical staff at the site could now oversee operations and diagnose problems remotely, via an online dashboard. The municipality used the data gathered to future-proof Fishwater Flats, increase its resilience to climate change and improve service delivery to its 1.1 million residents.

4. Andries Letsheenyo, Rauco Trading Technical Team - Groblershoop treatment plant

Andries Letsheenyo from Rauco Trading Technical Team at the Groblershoop treatment plant in !Kheis Local Municipality.

Credit: Incubate for REEEP

!Kheis Local Municipality

!Kheis Local Municipality is a stretched out, sparsely populated municipality on the edge of the Green Kalahari in Northern Cape province. The municipality, which measures nearly 100 km from its northernmost to its southernmost point, and roughly the same east to west, employs only a handful of engineers to maintain all infrastructure, including roads, electricity and water and sanitation provision to its widely dispersed population. The municipality’s technical staff, together with the project partners, identified fifteen sites for clean energy interventions.

Energy meters were installed at all sites, allowing for remote monitoring of the functioning of different assets and for the remote identification of breakdowns, and ten pumps were replaced with new, energy efficient models. Back-up pumps were installed for pumps that are critical to the water supply, to prevent service interruptions in case of breakdowns. In addition, REEEP conducted a community engagement event in Groblershoop, the municipality’s largest town, to inform the local community of the planned interventions. As part of this event, educational plays were performed at two local primary schools, teaching hundreds of students about the importance of saving water.

Stakeholder Engagement

In parallel with the technical work, REEEP ran an intensive programme of stakeholder engagement events which brought together, often for the first time, representatives of different departments in municipalities, the finance sector, private sector technology providers and project partners. The lessons learned at these roundtables were integrated into a Best Practice Guide, which contains advice for municipalities on which steps to take when implementing clean energy solutions. The lessons have also been leveraged in a Policy Brief, which provides policy recommendations to the South African government to create an enabling environment for clean energy and support municipalities to procure and fund improvements to their water infrastructure.


In 2018, REEEP produced an informative brochure on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Urban Water in Africa: Promoting Market-Based Deployment of Clean Energy Technology Solutions in Municipal Waterworks: Pilot Initiative in South Africa