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The Gibe III (G III) hydroelectric dam, the biggest ever hydropower project in the country next to the Grand Renaissance Dam, is expected to be completed within a year.
Work on the hydroelectric dam, which will eventually generate 1870 MW, began in 2006 to initially be completed within five years.
But it was delayed for over a year due to the suspension of finance pledged by international financers. After a loan was secured from China two years ago, it has been making good progress.
In May 2010, the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) and Dongfang Electric Machinery Corporation, a Chinese state-owned company, signed a deal for the provision of electrical and mechanical equipment for the project. The agreement is backed by a loan from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which reportedly covers 85 percent of the cost of USD 495 million.
Salini Costruttori SPA, an Italian company that has successfully carried out various projects in Ethiopia over more than half a century, is responsible for the construction. The engineering design was awarded to Studio Pietrangeli and the supervision to ELC-COB (ELC Electroconsult, Italy – Coyne et Bellier, France). The project is located on the lower course of the Omo River, in the Wolaita and Dawro zones of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional state, 470km Southwest of Addis.
The installation of high-voltage 400kV electric transmission lines that will help connect the power generated from G III to the National Grid has been fully completed. The transmission line project is being financed by the Chinese Export-Import (EXIM) Bank and the Ethiopian government.
Misikir Negash, Public Relations Head of EEPCo, told Capital that the construction of substations at G III, as well as at Sebeta and Kaliti on the western and eastern outskirts of Addis Ababa, respectively, has also been completed. “The distance from the main station to the central part of Addis is over 400.6km,” Misikir said.
Misikir added that the dam that will generate 1870 Mega Watts (MW) has 10 turbines, each producing 187MW of power. It is expected to start power production at the beginning of the coming Ethiopian year. The roller-compacted concrete dam is 243 meters high and 610 meters wide. Its height makes the dam one of the tallest in the world.
The PR Head said that currently 76.5 percent of the project has been completed and he confidently stated that the project will start generating power by September of next year.
G III will be the second hydropower project laid out in the five-year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) that will be ready ahead of time. In December 2011, EEPCo inaugurated the 97 MW Amerti-Neshi Multipurpose Hydroelectric Power Station, which is the first hydropower project laid out in the GTP. It was built by the China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) at a cost of USD 137 million. The power station has two turbines that can generate 48.4 megawatts of electricity each.
The dam was constructed on the Neshi River, five kilometres before it converges with the Amerti River, both tributaries of the Fincha River, which is located 250km west of Addis and is an offshoot of the Abay (Blue Nile) River.
The G III will be the biggest power station in terms of electricity generation. Currently, the biggest hydropower station is Tana Beles, which generates 460MW using four turbines.
When G III commences production, it will double the current power production in the country, which is about 2200MW. The cost of the G III dam and hydroelectric power plant has been estimated to be 1.55 billion euros. It will be a major source of electricity for export; for instance, Kenya will be supplied with 500MW of electricity from the dam.
Currently, EEPCo has many power projects in the pipeline including hydropower, wind and geothermal projects. By the end of the GTP, the state-owned power provider plans to generate up to 10,000MW, a dramatic increase from the currently available 2,200MW.
The Grand Renaissance Dam, which will generate 6000 MW, is expected to cover a major portion of the total power output to be produced as laid out in the GTP.
According to Misikir, Genale Dawa III is now 34 percent finished and it is one of the projects encompassed in the five-year GTP plan.
Excluding hydropower projects in the GTP, EEPCo has inaugurated the first wind farm in the country at Adama, which generates 51 MW, while the Ashegoda Wind Farm that was erected on the outskirts of Mekele, is completed.