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R 30m for Bethlehem hydro in South Africa

An independent power producer project in the Free State will see Bethlehem Hydro, a new black economic-empowerment IPP lead the construction of two hydro power stations that will partially eliminate dependence on Eskom by the Dihlabeng Municipality.
The project is funded by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) to the tune of R30million, with the balance of the required capital provided by the South African Energy Corporation, Nu Planet BV from the Netherlands, the Dihlabeng Local Municipality and investors from the region.

In a first of its kind in the world, Bethlehem Hydro will generate 'green' power, with no carbon dioxide emissions.

The project will construct and operate two renewable-energy Hydro power stations, using water from the As river in Bethlehem, with combined output of about 4 MWs.

Each power station will generate and sell 28 GWh per annum to the Dihlabeng Local Municipality (DLM).

The project will supply the equivalent of 15% to 20% of Bethlehem's power needs, at a tariff competitive to that of Eskom.

DBSA said the project ties in with its mandate of developing infrastructure and funding the provision of energy through innovative methods that not only contribute to the sustainability of South Africa's energy sector, but also ensures that the communities benefit from the government's measures of deregulating the generation, reticulation and supply of electricity.

About 200 jobs will be created through the project, while the construction period is expected to transfer skills to the community.

Other 'green' energy projects are expected to be established in South Africa. More equity in Bethlehem Hydro has been warehoused by the parties for local women's group investors, while other local investors may buy into the shares from the funders in due course, in order to ensure full community participation and beneficiation.

Additional information: DBSA web site
News date: 30/08/2005

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