Tekeze Power Plant, the hydro-electric power plant whose output all through last year has been very much below its installed capacity of 300 MW, is yet to recover from last year’s El Nino-induced water shortage and the resulting damage to its turbines, the Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) told The Reporter.
Though the power plant has not been operating at full capacity ever since it was commissioned, the El Nino-induced water shortage last year has taken a toll on the power plant and reduced its generating capacity to below 50MW.
Apart from the water shortage, the drought has caused extensive damage to the turbines after they were operated without adequate volume and density. According to Andargie Eshete, Operation Executive Officer of EEP, three of the four turbines sustained considerable damage due the drought episode. EEP is now looking to have the turbines maintained in few months’ time by the Chinese contractor Dongfang Electricity Corporation, the producer and installer of the turbines.
He also told The Reporter that although the Chinese company had been approached to do the job, it is yet to respond formally.
Dongfang is involved in a number of power projects in Ethiopia including the recently commissioned Gibe III and some wind farms in northern Ethiopia.
According to EEP, despite operating at the low end of its installed capacity, its production has currently increased somewhat and is generating close to 100 MW—33 percent of its total capacity.
EEP noted that the damage to the turbines is largely attributable to the decision to let the turbines spin without sufficient water supply last year. The turbines have sustained severe cracks rendering them incapable of functioning properly, Andargie said. As a result, Tekeze is reported to be contributing only three percent to the total power production of the country.
However, the effect of Tekeze’s underperformance has not affected the national power grid as much as it was anticipated. This is due in part to the recent commissioning of the Gibe III dam was set to add an extra 1800 MW of electric power to the national power pool though it (Gibe III) is yet to attain a full generating capacity.
Built at Tekeze River in the northern Tigray Regional State, the double-curvature arch dam began to generate power in 2009. It has a total production capacity of 300MW of electricity which makes it the fourth largest power plant in the country after Gibe III, Tana Beles and Gibe II, generating 1,800, 460 and 420 MW, respectively.