Ethiopia Plans a Wind Power Plant

Currently, the country identifies eight substantial potential sites for wind power; Aysha near Harrar, Ashegoda, Asela, Debre Birhan, Adama, and Mesobo Harena. Wind turbines has a potential generating capacity of 5,000 to 10,000 MW.

The Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) plans to undertake seven new hydroelectric power projects over the next five years. Nile basin projects are not included in the five year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP).

The Ethiopian government has endorsed the second five year development plan to be implemented in every sector of the country over the next five years. One of the major projects of the “Growth and Transformation Plan” (GTP), which is the continuation of the last five year program (Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty [PASDEP]), is the improvement of power generation from the current 2000 MW to 10,000 MW.

To acquire the huge amount of power needed, an official at EEPCo, who asked to remain anonymous, told Capital that in the next five years the government will inaugurate seven new hydroelectric projects as well as wind energy and geothermal power endeavors. “These projects will meet our plan to increase power production up to 10,000 MW,” the official said.

The official did not want to elaborate but he said that hydropower projects in the Nile basin are not included in the plans. “All the projects over the next five years will be undertaken in other rivers of the country,” the official explained.

Currently, a feasibility study funded by the Norwegian government is being carried out on the river Abay (Nile). This is expected to provide power for northern Nile basin countries (Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt). All three countries support the plan.

“The project supported by Norway has not been implemented, because it is at an early stage,” the official said. Gibe III is expected to surpass Gilge Gibe II’s generating capacity by 1,870MW, and Fincha Amerti Neshe will generate 100 MW. The corporation is in the process of constructing Genale Dawa III, Gibe IV/V, Beko Abo (Caradobi), Halele Worabesa and Chemoga-Yeda. They will be able to generate 6,000MW. Chinese firms are constructing most of these dams.

Ashegoda, Tigrai’s wind farm project will produce 120 MW, and a geothermal project in Afar region, is reportedly under proposal. Currently, EEPCo is preparing to carry out a generation and transmission master plan. In 2006 the Canadian consultant firm, Acres International, studied the corporation’s 25 year master plan of transmission and generation. “The new master plan will update the 2006 master plan to address the current situation,” a source at the corporation said.

A fund for the implementation of the new master plan is expected from external financial sources. “The World Bank and another source are the financial source of the project, while the formal negotiation is coming in the future,” the source said.

According to the sector expert, master plan is basic plan for the implementation of projects and to secure finance on time. The plan also helps identify the least costly projects and carry out cost benefit studies for projects.

A budget of 12 billion dollars has been earmarked for the nation’s 25 year power sector master plan (based on the study of 2006), of which 70 percent is allocated for generating power.

It is believed that the country has a 45,000 MW hydroelectric power generation capacity. According to EEPCo officials, the master plan will give priority to effective projects that will increase the production capacity of the country.

Large amounts of foreign currency, on average 80 percent, are needed for hydropower projects, as they require imported materials. This has led to the government obtaining loans in foreign exchange from overseas. Delays in obtaining these loans have been one of the reasons for projects falling behind schedule, according to experts.

The government has been taking measures over the last year to try and reduce this percentage, such as strengthening local producers and contractors so they can participate in the construction work and reduce EEPCo’s need for foreign currency. The government intends to reduce the current percentage of foreign currency required to less than 50 percent in the next few years.