The Genale Dawa III hydropower project will start producing electricity in January next year. Costing 450 million dollars, the project will boost the country's power generation capacity by 254MW.
With 99pc of the dam completed, it is currently undergoing tests. Standing 110m high and half a kilometer in length, the dam that had been under construction for almost a decade can hold up to 2.5 billion cubic metres of water. The dam is being constructed by China Gezhouba Group. The country also has the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam under construction, which is expected to generate 5,150MW of power.
Gilgel Gibe II is currently Ethiopia’s most powerful hydroelectric plant with an installed capacity of 420 MW. Voith supplied four Pelton turbines and generators as well as the entire mechanical and electrical equipment and also trained the plant operator’s staff. The project raised Ethiopia’s hydro capacity by over 50 per cent. Before Gilgel Gibe II went into operation, only 15 per cent of Ethiopia’s villages were connected to the power grid. Now, half of the rural settlements are supplied with power.
Gilgel Gibe II uses the water of the older Gilgel Gibe I plant, upstream on the Gibe river. About 500 meters above the powerhouse, the water is directed from the concrete-lined tunnel into two steel penstocks which then run along the surface. After a horizontal section, the gradient drops and the water rapidly picks up speed. After a few hundred meters, the penstocks bifurcate into four distribution pipes, feeding the runners of the Pelton turbines. The water will then be directed to the buckets of the runners through six jet nozzles, which turn the almost three and a half meter diameter turbine runners to 333 revolutions per minute.
The government has identified seven hydropower projects to be implemented by independent power producers in a public-private partnership (PPP) model. Out of the seven hydropower projects, Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) selected four that require amendments to their previous feasibility studies, while three of them need new feasibility studies.
Expected to generate 2,300MW of electric energy, the projects are located in Amhara, Oromia and Somali regional states and require a total of 4.3 billion dollars in investment.
If there is any Western country eager to help Ethiopia in the power sector, none match the enthusiasm and drive of the Danish government. Denmark, a country with an impressive record of 70pc reduction in its per kWh carbon emissions by switching to clean and renewable energy, is keen to explore alternative energy sources in this country.
A year ago, Denmark agreed to finance the construction of a new wind farm in Assela, 165Km south of the capital, to generate 100MW of power. Last week, a delegation of the Danish Energy Agency was here in Addis Abeba, and this week, Denmark sent a delegation to identify additional areas of cooperation in developing alternative sources of energy, as well as to promote management and skill sets in the field.