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African hydropower plant achieves international recognition

Anton Louis Olivier

Anton-Louis Olivier, Managing Director of Renewable Energy Holdings (REH)

10 May 2017 - Many African countries, notably South Africa, operate in coal-fired energy economies. Energy constraints have historically been a major inconvenience in South Africa, despite Government having gone a long way in dealing with the energy shortages in the country but also diversify energy sources to more sustainable alternatives.

One of Aurecon’s clients has been awarded a 2017 Mosonyi Award for Excellence in Hydropower from the International Hydropower Association (IHA). Presented to Anton-Louis Olivier, Managing Director of Renewable Energy Holdings (REH), at the World Hydropower Congress, currently being held in Addis Ababa from 9-11 May, the award recognises individuals within IHA’s membership for outstanding contributions to the sector.

“I am honoured to win this award,” said Olivier. “Huge potential exists for hydropower development in Africa and we have achieved many notable goals over the past decade. I would like to thank my team at REH as well as all of the technical advisors, engineers, consultants and stakeholders that helped us bring our visions to life.”

REH is one of the first independent power producers (IPPs) in South Africa. The company develops hydropower plants from the greenfield stage through to financial close and also operates the plants. Since 2002, Aurecon has partnered with the company and together the firms have successfully developed and implemented three small hydropower plants: Stortemelk Hydro and, as elements of the Bethlehem Hydro Project, Merino Hydro and Sol Plaatje hydropower stations, as well as currently working on several other schemes.

The Bethlehem Hydro Project was initiated to generate renewable electricity from the constant flow of water which runs into the Ash River as part of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. Aurecon was appointed to undertake the project management, detailed design, construction supervision, ECO monitoring and contract administration duties for Merino and Sol Plaatje mini hydro stations after completing the feasibility study in 2002, and assisting with environmental approvals for the project.  The two sites were commissioned in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

The Stortemelk Hydropower plant, developed under a Project Finance structure, has an installed capacity of 4.4 MW and operates as a run-of-river power station with an estimated annual output of 28 GWh. A single vertical Kaplan turbine was installed in a powerhouse alongside the existing Botterkloof Dam, situated on the Ash River in the Free State province of South Africa. Aurecon acted as the EPCM contractor on the project and was responsible for the entire project management, detailed design, construction supervision, ECO monitoring and contract administration, as well as the health-and-safety oversight. The construction commenced in October 2014 and 22 months later reached commercial operations date in July 2016, on time and within the project budget, without using any of the project contingencies.

“We are proud to have been involved in these projects which delivered many firsts for hydropower stations in South Africa,” says Bertrand Rochecouste Collet, Technical Director, Aurecon. “Aurecon’s professional relationship with REH Power Development over the past 15 years has been extremely rewarding, and we look forward to working with them on several new hydropower projects in the future.”

Aurecon engineer, Ross Mahaffey, who attended the 2017 World Hydropower Congress on behalf of the Aurecon team, commented on the company’s long-standing involvement in hydropower, saying:

“Developers face a number of challenges with regard to implementing hydropower projects in South Africa and it is crucial that we share our experience and findings at international platforms such as the World Hydropower Congress. With over 75 years of experience in providing design and management services for all types of dams and hydropower, the company, with its fully in-house expertise, is well-positioned to help clients with everything from specialist engineering and logistics to interconnections facilities, licences and Power Purchase Agreements."

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