Hydroelectricity South Africa

South Africa has moderate hydroelectric power – this is according to the experts. The establishment of small hydroelectric projects dotted around the country could in all probability assist in providing a sustainable energy supply in the future. 

There are in the region of about 6 000 to 8 000 potential sites for hydroelectricity in the country below 100 MegaWatts; KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape are the best options for these projects, though. 

  • The Drakensberg Pumped-Storage Facility is the largest hydroelectric plant within the borders of South Africa – water is brought from the Tugela River in the Vaal watershed to this power plant 
  • South Africa’s second-largest plant is situated on the Palmiet River which is just outside Cape Town 

At present, South Africa’s electricity supplier, Eskom, buys power from Mozambique’s Cahora Basa plant, jointly owned by the Mozambican and Portuguese governments which are situated in Mozambique’s western Tete province. 

Eskom is Cahora Basa’s chief customer; power bought from Cahora Basa supplements Eskom’s largely coal-driven electricity supply, which is resold to numerous countries across Africa. 

Hydroelectric plants in South Africa include: 

  • Tubatse Pumped Storage Scheme in the Limpopo Province (Roossenekal) – this project is on hold for now, and was referred to as Project Lima previously 
  • Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme in Kwa-Zulu Natal 
  • Drakensberg Pumped Storage Scheme in the Free State province 
  • Gariep Dam in the Free State on the Eastern Cape border 
  • The Palmiet Pumped Storage Scheme in the Western Cape 
  • Steenbras Power Station (Pumped storage) – Western Cape 
  • Vanderkloof Dam – Northern Cape 
  • Colley Wobbles Power Station – Eastern Cape 
  • Ncora Dam – Ncora Power Station situated in the Eastern Cape 
  • Sol Plaatjie Power Station in Bethlehem in the Free State 
  • Merino Power Station in the Free State in Bethlehem 

All the above hydroelectricity plants are operational at present, bar Tubatse.