Ethiopia Launches 6,000-Megawatt Hydropower ‘Project X’

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Industrial Info Resources:

Ethiopia’s ambitious intentions to exploit the country’s hydropower potential and make it east Africa’s leader in renewable power for the next five years have taken a major step forward. The Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) is moving on the construction of a 6,000-MW hydropower scheme, which has been dubbed “Project X” in government circles. Project X will be the foundation of a three-dam project to be launched in 2011 and is part of a plan to build generation capacity to 10,000 MW.

Salini Costrutori (Rome, Italy) is reported to have been awarded the hydro installation construction contract for the project. The company already has been active in Ethiopia with the construction of the 420-MW Gilgel 11 and 460-MW Tana Belesa hydropower projects. These two plants provide 47% of the country’s present power generation capacity. Salini has a global annual turnover of $1.6 salini costruttoribillion and planned works totaling $11.1 billion.

Salini already has moved heavy construction machinery to the site and is building personnel camps and site service installations. The site for the project is on the Abay River, which is 40 kilometers from the Sudanese border, in Benishangulk state.

EEPCo’s project managers on the previous two projects will fulfill the same function of managing the civil and electro-mechanical engineering works on Project X, which could be renamed the “Millennium Project.” They will establish a project office for project contracts. Contracts for the electro-mechanical section could be given to a Chinese company, which would open the door for the Ethiopian government to raise funds from the Chinese government for the project. The hydro plant is currently scheduled for completion in 2016.

EEPCo is trying to raise its power generation capacity to 8,000 MW when all three of the new projects are commissioned. The company plans a 255% increase in generation capacity; a 155% increase in transmission capacity to an 8,495-kilometer grid; and an increase in total transmission and distribution lines, from 25,000 kilometers to 126,038 kilometers. This will enable it to give power access to 5,163 towns and villages and increase the number of customers from 953,007 to 1.9 million. If the current expansion plans for hydro and wind projects are completed, it will allow EEPCo to keep pace with the growth in local demand and industrial expansion, and to export surplus power to the region.

by Industrial Info Resources

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