Bethlehem Hydro, an energy company in South Africa, today announced the start of construction on a hydro power project in the Free State Province of South Africa. According to their press release, this project
"...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." Construction will be completed by end of this year. Full commissioning is planned for February of 2008.
Compared to the approximately 40 000 MW generating capacity installed in South Africa, Bethlehem Hydro’s 7MW might seem small, hardly visible on a chart. But, from the standpoint of the 11 000 low income households whose annual power needs will soon be met by Bethlehem Hydro, this small project is a beauty--a "Small is Beautiful" kind of beauty!
Congratulations to NuPlanet (Pty)--the South African company behind this ground-breaking example of renewable energy for poverty eradication in Africa. Anton-Louis Olivier, a director of NuPlanet, has offered to send me an update with pictures when he visits the construction sites later in the week. Stay tuned!