Aurecon has been appointed to provide engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) services for the 4.5MW Stortemelk hydropower plant near Clarens in South Africa.

Construction on the plant can begin after Stortemelk Hydro (Pty) Ltd, an SPV majority owned by Renewable Energy Holdings Pty Ltd (REH) reached financial close for the development.

The project has been developed by NuPlanet (a member of the REH group), which was also appointed to manage the project under a Management Service Agreement.

Aurecon has been involved in the project since the feasibility stage and has now won the EPCM contract – the first time an EPCM contractual structure has been used under the South African Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP) according to Aurecon project director Bertrand Rochecouste Collet.

"We are able to provide all of the necessary services in house to NuPlanet, which helped to convince stakeholders that the EPCM approach, rather than the typical EPC approach, was the most appropriate solution without increasing the overall project risks," he said.

"The Aurecon team understands the context of small hydro and private project development which allows for clear management of the complex and highly regulated development process as well as efficient risk allocation during development and construction," NuPlanet managing director Anton-Louis Olivier added.

As part of the project, a single vertical Kaplan turbine will be installed at the Botterkloof Dam on the Ash River. Aurecon offered a compact solution for the turbine, optimising the short penstock route to avoid endangering the existing structures.

The power station has to be constructed between two existing dams without affecting their operations and stability. The construction will require deep excavations through the Botterkloof Dam embankment in between the Botterkloof Dam and Boston A Dam spillways.

The project will contribute to Dithlabeng (Bethlehem and Clarens) Municipality’s economy through local employment and procurement.

Construction is expected to be completed by mid-2016.