Wolwedans is blessed with a stable supply of underground water and is the last extraction point before it drains into the Atlantic Ocean. And although plentiful, accessing this most precious of all natural resources is technically challenging and complex. Not only is this vital resource flowing at more than 130 metres below the desert surface, but it must also be distributed to the various camp locations, which are up to 5 kms away and at an elevation gain of an additional 140 metres. The use of strong electric submersible and booster pumps is therefore unavoidable, consuming significant amounts of energy; total draw of all pumps is close to 25 kW. Despite technological developments in borehole drilling equipment, many attempts to drill additional boreholes have failed, with one of the few up-sides being that we remain focussed on strict water conservation practices.
Currently, Wolwedans Village has three productive boreholes and seeks to drill another two. Active boreholes will be fitted with solar-powered pumps, thereby making the running of generators and related CO2 emissions obsolete. At the moment, however, water pumping requirements still mean that Wolwedans runs a fuel guzzling generator for three hours a day.
As an immediate intervention, Wolwedans plans to install a 12.5 kW solar plant to boost existing solar pump capacity. Once this is done, new pumps with higher capacity will be installed. A single, high-capacity submersible pump (requiring the generator to operate) would remain in the event of overcast weather, which can happen during winter months. This pump would be operational once a week for two hours to give the generators some regular running time, minimising maintenance and repair requirements.