South Africans Hydro Potential

hydro energy

Energy experts say South Africa has moderate hydroelectric potential, and that the establishment of small hydroelectric projects around the country could help provide a sustainable future energy supply....

Although South Africa continues to lag other regions in terms of sustainable energy investment, asset finance was up in 2007 (five times as much as in 2006), reversing a gradual decline since 2004 and bearing witness to increasing installed renewable capacity.


Over $148 billion in new funding entered the sustainable energy sector globally last year, up 60% from 2006, even as a credit crunch began to roil financial markets, according to the report, "Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2008," prepared by UK-based New Energy Finance for UNEP's Paris-based Sustainable Energy Finance Initiative.

The 2007 investments in Africa were mainly in bio fuels and geothermal. Promising large-scale solar developments were also initiated in North Africa and some signs of change in South Africa, where targets for renewable energy have been set and the country's first wind farm commissioned.

The US department of energy estimates that there are 6 000 to 8 000 potential sites in South Africa suitable for small hydro-utilisation below 100 megawatts, with the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape offering the best prospects.

The largest hydroelectric power plant in South Africa is the 1 000 megawatt Drakensberg Pumped-Storage Facility, part of a larger scheme of water management that brings water from the Tugela River into the Vaal watershed. The country's second-largest plant is situated on the Palmiet River outside Cape Town.