Government approves major wind farm project

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The Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) Board has approved the start of construction on  the first phase of the Aysha I wind farm project.
Chinese company Dongfang Wind, a sister company of Dongfang Hydro,  will carry out the work on the first phase on the wind farm in the Somali Regional state, close to the Djibouti border.
EEPCo sources told Capital that the Board – chaired by Debretsion Gebremichael, Head of the economic cluster with a rank of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Information and Communication  Technology – approved the first phase of the project which is expected to produce 120 MW, last week.
Construction will start in the next few months and will be split into three phases.
Dongfang will take on the work in the first phase, while the second stage will be completed by an as yet unnamed company backed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) also expected to produce 120 MW, and the state-owned Metal and Engineering Corporation (MetEC) will complete the project with another Chinese company in the third phase and will produce 60 MW.
The Dongfang and MetEC projects will be financed by the Chinese Export-Import (EXIM) Bank.
The EIB-financed project will be awarded to a contractor through a process of international bids.
The Aysha plant will become Ethiopia’s biggest power generator.
“Initially we will produce 300 MW at Aysha I after the completion of the three phases, but it will expand in the future,” an EEPCo official told Capital.
Experts believe the plant will eventually have the potential to generate up to 10,000 MW of power from wind.
European and Chinese companies have carried out feasibility studies in the area.
EEPCo sources say the government intends to pay a German company, Lafto, for its study on the project.
The exact details of the project have not been confirmed.
This will make it easy to connect a power line to the international grid and enable the distribution of electricity to Djibouti – which is the first country in the region to use power generated in Ethiopia.
The town of Debre Birhan and its surroundings is another region with the potential to accommodate wind power projects in the coming years.
It is expected that such projects will be funded by American firms and the Ethiopian diaspora.
EEPCo officials say Aysha and Adama have the potential to generate thousands of megawatts of electricity from wind power – a feasibility study is underway in the Adama region in the Iteya area.
Adama 1, which generates 51 MW, is the country’s first operational wind power farm and was inaugurated at the end of 2012. Ashegoda is the country’s other existing wind farm.
The French company, Vergnet, that built the plant has so far achieved 30 MW power generation – EEPCo officials say capacity to generate another 90 MW is under commissioning.
Recent studies suggest Ethiopia has the potential to generate more than one million megawatts of electricity from wind energy.