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Energy masterplanning for economic growth in KZN

Energy masterplanning, KwaDukuza, KwaZulu-Natal

08 June 2015 - Aurecon was tasked with developing an energy masterplan for the KwaDukuza Municipality.

The KwaDukuza Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal is one of the fastest growing municipalities in South Africa. Situated less than 50 km north of the King Shaka International Airport and located on the N2 Development Corridor route, KwaDukuza consists of a variety of settlements and small towns that are linked with a well-developed network of roads and rail infrastructure. Economic growth in the area, however, has been constrained by the lack of reliable electricity supply and in order to address this, the KwaDukuza Municipality launched its Electricity Priority Projects (EPP) programme in 2009.

Aurecon was tasked with the development of an Energy Masterplan, electrical and civil design aspects of the programme as well as site supervision and contract administration.

The scope involved the establishment of new supply points with Eskom, the construction of new substations, upgrading of existing substations and feeder lines as well as the establishment of primary cable network rings and nodal switch-rooms within the municipality’s northern and southern networks, including Ballito.

Aurecon Project Leader on the KwaDukuza projects, Walter Nxumalo, says that one of the challenges that the project team experienced was lack of documentation of the existing electrical networks.

“In order to solve this problem, the team embarked on manual field-auditing of the existing plant. The need for an energy masterplan meant that not only did the existing electricity networks need to be planned and assessed, but they also needed to create a 10-year electricity load forecast, identify potential demand growth and assess the electrical infrastructure capacity against the predicted load growth.

“The existing refurbishment plans and expansion plans needed to be reviewed in order to create an energy masterplan that can align with the Municipality’s fast growth. The energy masterplan that we came up with provided a viable and sustainable solution to the existing challenges related to the poor quality and reliability of electricity supply,” comments Nxumalo.

The KwaDukuza Municipality’s new energy masterplan not only strengthened existing electricity networks to enable economic growth, but it also provided access to basic electricity supply for a number of residential dwellings within the municipal boundary areas.

The effect of the EPP programme has also spilled over to nearby suburbs and districts in the region.

“The EPP programme has unleashed new development potential within the Ballito Old Central Business District, which was stagnating in growth. It also enabled the Municipality to roll-out an extensive Rural Electrification programme that has resulted in many previously disadvantaged communities gaining access to electricity,” says Nxumalo.

The successful implementation of the EPP programme was a result of meticulous management by the project team. The masterplan suggested by the team proved to be the key bankable document for presentation to funding institutions. 

“In such a technically challenging project, it’s key that all the stakeholders, including Eskom, local residents and professional teams, work together in order to provide a sustainable solution. The implementation of the programme has improved the standards of living and general economic upliftment of residents in the area thanks to the reliable and continued supply of electricity and, most importantly, the good working relationship established between our team and the Kwadukuza Municipality,” comments Dr Aman Maharaj, Technical Director and Office Manager of Aurecon’s eThekwini office.

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