Coal production, from mining to power generation, requires vast volumes of water. Furthermore, pollution from coal mining can irreparably harm water resources.
In South Africa—one of the world’s most water stressed countries and one of the largest producers and consumers of coal—the water-energy nexus is a topic of great concern.
South Africa’s most important water stakeholders have a prime opportunity to respond. Uniting governments, companies, and non-profit organisations can help protect water resources while stabilising energy supplies – and eventually, reduce South Africa’s dependence on coal.
Sasol, a large South African energy and chemical company, has adopted a forward-looking philosophy. The company thinks of itself as a water planner rather than an energy planner.
Sasol’s business depends on large volumes of water. The South African government allocates 150m cubic meters of water to the company every year, 120m of which comes from the Vaal river system. It uses that for washing, extraction, and cooling during the production process. To mitigate its long-term, water-related risks, Sasol is investing in water recycling, wastewater treatment, and alternative supplies, such as through desalination. The company also invests in water conservation projects outside its operations. One project fixed leaky taps and toilets for 114,000 houses in the Vaal river basin township of Emfuleni, and claims to have saved 4.6m cubic meters of water since 2012. Sasol realises that improving water efficiency for the municipality improves water security for the company and the community at large.[Source: http://bit.ly/1ENHwan]