Planning for seawater desalination in the context of the Western Cape water supply system

Blersch, Catherine Louise (2014-12)

Thesis (MEng) -- Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: South Africa has historically been reliant on inexpensive surface and groundwater resources; however, as pressure on these resources continues to grow, seawater desalination has begun to emerge as a potential future supply source. One of the towns earmarked as a candidate for large-scale seawater desalination is Cape Town. In order to maximise the benefits and minimise the costs of such a scheme, the desalination plant needs to be considered as an integral part of the current system. Integrated planning has been lacking at the existing seawater desalination plants in South Africa, most of which were constructed as emergency schemes and are financially cumbersome for the municipalities to operate and manage. Recent research related to inter-basin water transfer schemes has shown that a comprehensive approach is required in assessing water supply from a new scheme in which the system as a whole is modelled stochastically and the estimated water transfer extracted. This comprehensive approach was the foundation of the modelling undertaken in this research. Existing models of the Western Cape system were adapted to include a seawater desalination plant, and short-term and long-term analyses were completed for a variety of possible desalination plant operating scenarios and capacities. The increase in system yield and the annual supply from the desalination plant were determined. First-order capital and operating costs were estimated, and these costs were combined with the annual supply values to calculate and compare unit reference values. The maximum increase in yield was found to occur when the seawater desalination plant is used as a base supply, operational all the time. There was little benefit, in terms of system yield, in using the desalination plant as an emergency supply source only. Unit reference values for the desalination plant decrease as the percentage supply from the desalination plant increases, meaning that the lowest possible cost per cubic metre of water supplied is when the desalination plant is used as a base supply. It was also apparent that the unit reference values decrease with an increase in desalination plant capacity, suggesting that, from an economic perspective, the optimal solution would be to have one large desalination plant operational immediately. The lower the reservoir trigger level at which the desalination plant becomes active, the larger the stochastic variation in the supply from the desalination plant and hence the larger the variation in the costs. Hence, using stochastic modelling to calculate unit reference values is particularly important for integrating a desalination plant into an existing conventional supply system when used as a peak or emergency supply source.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Suid-Afrika maak histories staat op goedkoop oppervlak- en grondwaterhulpbronne. Namate druk op hierdie hulpbronne aanhou toeneem, begin seewaterontsouting egter as ’n moontlike toekomstige waterbron na vore tree. Een van die stede wat as ’n kandidaat vir grootskaalse ontsouting geïdentifiseer is, is Kaapstad. Vir die meeste moontlike voordele teen die laagste moontlike koste, moet so ’n ontsoutingsaanleg as ’n integrale deel van die huidige stelsel beskou word. Geïntegreerde beplanning het tot dusver tekortgeskiet by bestaande ontsoutingsaanlegte in Suid-Afrika, wat merendeels as noodskemas opgerig is en waarvan die bedryf en bestuur ’n finansiële las op munisipaliteite plaas. Onlangse navorsing oor skemas vir tussenbekkenwateroordrag toon dat ’n omvattende benadering vereis word om watervoorsiening uit ’n nuwe skema te beoordeel. Volgens so ’n benadering word die stelsel in die geheel stogasties gemodelleer en die geraamde wateroordrag onttrek. Dié omvattende benadering was dan ook die grondslag vir die modellering wat in hierdie navorsing onderneem is. Bestaande modelle van die Wes-Kaapse stelsel is aangepas om ’n ontsoutingsaanleg in te sluit, en kort- en langtermynontledings is vir verskeie moontlike ontsoutingsaanlegvermoëns en -bedryfscenario’s voltooi. Die toename in stelselopbrengs en die jaarlikse watervoorsiening uit die ontsoutingsaanleg is bepaal. Kapitaal- en bedryfskoste van die eerste orde is geraam, welke koste toe met die jaarlikse voorsieningswaardes gekombineer is om eenheidsverwysingswaardes te bereken en te vergelyk. Die maksimum toename in opbrengs blyk te wees wanneer die ontsoutingsaanleg as ’n basisbron dien wat te alle tye in werking is. Wat stelselopbrengs betref, was daar weinig voordeel in die gebruik van die aanleg as ’n noodwaterbron. Eenheidsverwysingswaardes vir die ontsoutingsaanleg neem af namate die persentasie voorsiening uit die aanleg toeneem, wat beteken dat die laagste moontlike koste per kubieke meter water verkry word wanneer die ontsoutingsaanleg as ’n deurlopende basisbron dien. Dit was ook duidelik dat die eenheidsverwysingswaardes afneem met ’n toename in aanlegvermoë, wat te kenne gee dat die optimale oplossing uit ’n ekonomiese oogpunt sou wees om onmiddellik een groot ontsoutingsaanleg in bedryf te stel. Hoe laer die opgaardamvlak waarop die ontsoutingsaanleg in werking tree, hoe groter die stogastiese variasie in watervoorsiening uit die aanleg, en hoe groter die variasie in koste. Daarom is die gebruik van stogastiese modellering om eenheidsverwysingswaardes te bereken veral belangrik vir ’n ontsoutingsaanleg wat as ’n spits- of noodwaterbron dien.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/95848
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