First SA hydroelectric plant to power the Northern Cape

South Africa's new hydroelectric plant will harness the power of the Orange River. Photo: UNITED ARCHIVES

KAKAMAS - The rocky terrain of the Green Kalahari is proving to be the perfect location for South Africa's first hydroelectric power plant.

The Neusberg Plant is currently under construction outside Kakamas in the Northern Cape. It is the first of four plants planned for the region.

Powered by the flow of the Orange River, the plants are expected to provide a reliable and sustainable electricity source for generations to come.

The Kakamas Hydroelectric project will start at the weir of Neusberg's old irrigation canal.

The 15 metre drop onto the plant's turbine will see enough electricity generated to power up to 5,000 homes.

With a guaranteed 70-percent efficiency at all times, the use of this mighty river is proving to be more efficient at providing energy than the Kalahari sun.

"With solar and with the other technologies, you don't get that certainty, because obviously the sun doesn't shine at night and yes, you have an idea of when it's the windy season, but you can't guarantee to someone that in a week's time I will be able to dispatch so much electricity," pointed out Kakamas Hydroelectric Director Niel Theron.

With a number of other waterfalls along the river, three other plants are planned - at the Augrabies, Boegoeberg Dam, and the Oranje falls.

By Earl Coetzee

eNCA

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