Amid a bitter standoff with Egypt over the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Ethiopia is considering cutting the installed capacity of the Dam by 1,300MW. The Dam that has been under construction since 2011 was planned to have an installed capacity of 6,450MW of power. However, the project office of the Dam proposes to slash the installed capacity to 5,150MW, decreasing the number of turbines to be installed for power generation. The project office has already forwarded the proposal to Ethiopian Electric Power and is waiting for approval.
Initially, the Dam was planned to have 16 turbine units, but the office has proposed slashing three units in a bid to reduce the unit cost of the Dam, according to Kifle Horo, chief engineer of the Dam.“Installing the turbines will only raise the overall cost of the Dam while having no significant effect on the capacity factor," Kifle told Fortune. The capacity factor is the unitless ratio of actual electrical energy output over a given period compared to the maximum possible electrical energy output over the given period. Upon completion, the Dam will generate 15,760GWh of energy a year on average.
"Having additional units would inflate the cost of the dam," said Kifle. “Thus, it will be ideal if the country invests the money that would be used for the three turbines on other dams that will generate additional power and energy."
While reducing the number of turbines, there will not be a change in the head of the Dam and average water discharge. The maximum dam head is 145m, while the design head is 123m. The water that will be impounded in the reservoirs will be 74 billion cubic metres.