The Stortemelk hydropower project in South Africa has been recognised as an impressive example of sustainable small hydro development using an industry-leading assessment tool.
The 4.3 MW run-of-river plant developed by Stortemelk Hydro, a subsidiary of Renewable Energy Holdings (REH), achieved global good practice across 10 environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance criteria in the independent assessment.
Commissioned in 2016, the Stortemelk project has received awards for its architecture and environmental performance. The project’s site selection and design have enabled it to avoid significant environmental and social impacts and reduce costs during construction and operation.
“We strongly believe in the role sustainable hydropower projects can play in achieving a decarbonised power sector. This is especially the case in Africa with its vast untapped hydro potential,” said Anton-Louis Olivier, CEO of REH Group. “Applying the Hydropower Sustainability ESG Gap Analysis Tool at Stortemelk has demonstrated the high sustainability performance of this hydro plant against the leading global standard. The results are also guiding our project development activities across the region.”
The evaluation was supported through the Hydropower Sustainability ESG Assessment Fund managed by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) and financed by the Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).
The assessment was the first to be done remotely following recently released new guidance.
“The assessment of the Stortemelk project really showed the power of smart siting and design choices. Because the project was built on an existing dam with a very small footprint, it has low impacts and enjoys broad stakeholder support,” explained the project’s assessor, Joerg Hartmann.
“The assessment was conducted in November 2020 and involved a review of 75 documents, 20 interviews and a remote site assessment using video calls, surveillance cameras and drone footage.
“As the first project applying new remote assessment guidance, it also showed that for these kinds of projects, modern technology can be used for a thorough and cost-effective assessment.”