PowerX in South Africa to purchase output from 4-MW Merino small hydropower project

PowerX announced last week it has entered into an agreement with Bethlehem Hydro, an independent power producer and subsidiary of Renewable Energy Holdings (REH), to purchase the entire output from the 4-MW Merino small hydropower project.

PowerX is the first energy exchange in South Africa licensed by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA). Bethlehem Hydro operates the 7-MW Bethlehem two-facility hydro complex, near Bethlehem, South Africa. The complex comprises two separate generation sites: 3-MW Sol Plaatje and 4-MW Merino, both located on the As River.

NERSA licensed PowerX as a national aggregator of power.

The Merino power plant is located near Clarens, in the Free State province, and has been in operation since 2010. The plant operates as a run-of-river station and its annual output is 25 GWh. The project consists of a diversion weir, an 800-meter long canal and a small forebay. The powerhouse is situated mostly below ground level and houses a single double-regulated horizontal axis Kaplan turbine.

The plant is connected to the national grid by way of a 22-kV line.

According to Anton-Louis Olivier, REH and Bethlehem Hydro chief operating officer, the transaction made commercial sense in the context of the current uncertainty in the power market in South Africa.

“The Merino power plant generates more than 25 GWh of electricity per annum,” Olivier said. “This is enough to power some 4,000 households. Initially, the Merino plant sold its output to Eskom under a short-term supply program. However, early in 2017 Eskom decided to stop purchasing power under this program. Not only was PowerX able to offer us an attractive tariff, but also a long-term contract with the necessary guarantees that such a transaction requires.”

REH is a hydropower developer, owner and operator and is based in Cape Town and is active in South Africa and Zambia.

PowerX is a national aggregator that acts as a conduit between willing buyers and sellers to stimulate the generation of clean power and is based in Johannesburg, according to the company.

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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for HydroWorld.com.

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