Stortemelk Hydro, the third hydropower plant developed in South Africa by Renewable Energy Holdings (REH), started commercial operations on July 29.
The 4.5 MW, R190-million project, which was awarded preferred bidder status under the second bid window of government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), is located near Clarens, in the Free State.
Similar to the two hydropower plants previously developed by REH for Bethlehem Hydro, the project is situated on the Ash river and uses the outflow from the Lesotho Highlands water project.
Project contractors included Austrian ‘water to wire’ turbine, generator and switchgear contractors Andritz Hydro, Spain’s Indar Electrical and Aurecon South Africa, which acted as the engineering, procurement and construction management contractor, while the civil works contract was awarded to Eigenbau.
The capital cost was financed by Rand Merchant Bank, while REH, the Mertech Group and an independent broad-based black economic empowerment-entity provided equity financing.
Stortemelk Hydro is one of the few projects under the REIPPPP that is 100% South African-owned.
The project employed some 50 people during its 18-month construction period.
It adds to the 2 852 MW of power already generated by 13 local hydropower plants, as well as the 1 500 MW of hydropower South Africa imports from neighbouring countries.