One of the largest energy projects in Africa is being built in the tiny mountain kingdom of Lesotho. This renewable energy project will make power from wind and water. The Lesotho highlands power project (LHPP) will cost $15bn (£9bn) and will generate 6,000 megawatts (MW) of wind power and 4,000MW of hydropower.
It will also create 25,000 jobs over 15 years including 1,500 technicians and engineers. This is a major boon for Lesotho, because as one of the world’s poorest countries in the world, where nearly half the population struggles to live on less than $1.25 a day.
Lesotho, officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country and enclave, surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. It is just over 30,000 km (11,583 sq mi) in size with a population of approximately 2,067,000. Its capital and largest city is Maseru.
Lesotho’s energy efficiency policies and regulations are contained in the National Initiative for an Energy Efficiency Program in Lesotho’s Water Sector: Barrier Analysis Report. Lesotho is focused on energy efficiency through its Energy Management Plan – Lesotho Water Sector.
Lesotho gets it electricity primarily from hydro power and since 2000 it has been able to supply its own power needs. Going forward, Lesotho’s large scale renewable energy projects will make the nation a net exporter of energy to South Africa. This project will help to sate South Africa’s growing energy appetite and reduce its reliance on coal.
Construction is expected to take between 10 and 15 years. The first phase is a 150-megawatt windfarm, set to start next year. South Africa’s Harrison and White Investments and its Chinese technology partner, Ming Yang Wind Power, will build wind turbine components factories in South Africa and Lesotho.
The Lesotho energy projects demonstrate that renewable energy can help wean us off destructive fossil fuels and create employment in some of the most impoverished places on earth.
© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.