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NuPlanet developing multiple projects in South Africa

The 7-MW Bethlehem two-facility hydro complex, near Bethlehem, South Africa, represents the first new hydroelectric power to begin operating in the country in 20 years, says owner NuPlanet. South Africa's Deputy Minister of Economic Development Ms. Mahlangu-Nkabinde officially opened the complex in October 2009.

The complex comprises two separate generation sites: 3-MW Sol Plaatje and 4-MW Merino, both located on the As River. Bethlehem Hydro (Pty) Ltd. is the developer and complex manager for NuPlanet.

Sol Plaatje achieved its rated output July 18, 2009. The station operates semi-autonomously via remote monitoring, and is interconnected to the Bethlehem municipal power grid through an 11-kilovolt line owned by Bethlehem Hydro.

The run-of-river Merino plant is in the final stages of mechanical installation. Commissioning is expected in April 2010 when grid interconnection is complete. The plant will be connected to the national Eskom transmission network through a dedicated 18-kilometer 22-kV line.

Electricity from both hydro facilities will be sold to the Dihlabeng (Bethlehem) Municipality, providing 10 to 15 percent of the town's power.

Development costs for the two-facility complex were 100 million South Africa rand (US$13 million), says Bethlehem Hydro.

Anton-Louis Olivier, managing director of Bethlehem Hydro, sees this development as the first of a new generation of privately owned, renewable power plants that can transform the South African power sector.

Beyond Bethlehem, NuPlanet has acquired the rights to develop another 17.5 MW of hydropower, including:

— 10-MW Botterkloof, installed at the Botterkloof Dam below the Lesotho Highlands;

— 4-MW Merino 2; and

— 3.5-MW Bivane, at the site of the existing Bivane facility in Kwazulu-Natal.

Gugler receives contract for Turkey project

Bukor Elektrik Uretim A.S., a hydropower project developer, awarded Gugler Water Turbines Ltd. a contract to supply equipment for the 10.8-MW Darca project near Bursa, Turkey. The run-of-river project, built on the Sakarya Nehri River, will be equipped with three Kaplan bulb turbines with a capacity of 3.6 MW each, Gugler officials said. The plant is expected to begin generating power in Fall 2010.

European countries to develop environmental certification

Work is under way by five countries in Europe to develop a technically and economically feasible volunteer method for certifying, or labeling, hydropower production that meets high environmental standards.

The work, being carried out under the European Union's Intelligent Energy – Europe, involves developing a general approach for certification, discussed by all relevant stakeholders, then developing an operational methodology to be tested by Italy and Slovenia. These are two of the European countries participating in the work. Other country partners are France, Slovakia, and Spain.

The certification methodology primarily will refer to existing plants, says Intelligent Energy – Europe. However, to allow a wider use of the results of the work, the partners plan to develop guidelines for decision-makers to use during planning and licensing procedures, and for plant developers to use for environmental impact assessment studies.

The work product is known as Certification for HydrO: Improving Clean Energy (CH2OICE). The work is to be complete in February 2011. The budget for CH2OICE is EUR 1.35 million (US$2 million).

According to Intelligent Energy – Europe, CH2OICE complements existing European Union tools such as Ecolabel, Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and Sustainable Energy Action (SEA).

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