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South Africa: start of Bethlehem hydro construction

Bethlehem Hydro announced that const ruction has started on the 7MW hydro power project in the Free State Province of South Africa.
Bethlehem Hydro breaking new ground in South Africa. It is the first commercial power project to have reached construction in more than two decades and the first project finance transaction ever on a green field independent power project .
The project comprises two generating units of 3MW and 4MW, placed respectively on the As river and the Sol Plaatje Dam, both near the town of Bethlehem. The construct ion process is scheduled to run until the end of 2007 and full commissioning will take place in February of 2008.

Although Bethlehem Hydro’s 7MW is paltry compared to the round 40 000MW of generation capacity installed in South Africa, it will provide some 20% of the power needs of the town of Bethlehem - sufficient for the annual power needs of 11 000 low income households. In addition the project will reduce the emission of more than 30 000 tons of greenhouse gas (CO2) per annum by displacing coal fired electricity. The blackouts in 2006 provided a wake up call to the power generation sector in South Africa that localised disruptions are becoming a common occurrence and that new generation capacity and transmission system upgrades are urgently needed. I t is estimated that South Africa must add 1000MW of capacity per year for the next decade to meet demand growth.

Financing Bethlehem Hydro will cost some R 67 million to build and is financed by a loan from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and equity investments by NuPlanet , CEF and Hydrowsa. Bethlehem Hydro will produce around 35 GWh of electricity per annum which is sold under a long term power purchase agreement to the town of Bethlehem. The emission reductions are sold under the Clean Development Mechanism CDM) to Statkraft (the Netherlands).

Construction NuPlanet (Pty) Ltd of South Africa developed the project. Ninham Shand Consulting Engineers (South Africa) are responsible for the design and construct ion management.

The construction contract has been awarded to Eigenbau (Pty) Ltd (South Africa) and Boving Fouress Ltd of India will supply the Kaplan turbines and balance of plant equipment.

Additional information: NuPlanet
News date: 09/01/2007

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