Hydropower project to be started?

2017-01-26 06:01
The 80-year-old tunnel on Camro Estates in Oribi Flats.PHOTO: supplied

The 80-year-old tunnel on Camro Estates in Oribi Flats.PHOTO: supplied

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MOOI Camro (Pty) Ltd is proposing to start a hydro electricity (hydropower) project on a farm on Camro Estates in Oribi Flats.

The company applied to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) for a power generation licence to install the project and generate 650kW of electrical energy.

Johan van Zyl, Mooi Camro director, said they discovered an old tunnel on the estate that runs through it into a nearby river.

“We estimate that approximately 80 years ago the then owner of Farm Gibraltar, now known as Camro Estates, constructed a tunnel from the one side of the farm to the opposite side of the farm and into the Umzimkulu River.

“He used the water flowing through the tunnel to generate electricity for the farm and drive pumps to irrigate the crops. Water has flowed through this tunnel since and has only been stopped for the maintenance of pumps and the tunnel over the years. It will be an environmental upgrade for the estate,” said Van Zyl.

He said the hydro power generation stopped when Eskom electricity was cheap and the cost of maintaining the equipment was higher than buying electricity from Eskom.

“As we all know the price of electricity has gone up and South Africa cannot afford to waste any clean energy. The company, Mooi Camro (Pty) Ltd, was formed as a joint venture between Mooi Hydro (Pty) Ltd, a black empowered entity and Camro Estates in order to reinstate the hydropower plant and stop the wastage of energy,” he said.

As required by Nersa, Van Zyl has provided financials of the company, a proposed power purchase agreement to prove that the energy can be sold, cost estimates for construction and proof of financing.

He assured that the plant will benefit the people in the area during the construction phase, and enable skills to be transferred to the community.

He said they will use local contractors for the construction as much as possible.

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