400 MW wind energy for Ethiopia

The Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Terra Energy Developers for the engineering, procurement and construction of an estimated 400 MW wind farm in Debre Berhan, 130 km north of the capital.

The memorandum states that Terra Energy ‒ based in Nevada in the United States ‒ will set up a wind turbines assembly plant in Ethiopia and arrange the required financing. It was decided that Terra Energy ‒ a joint venture between Princeton Energy Group, Global Enterprise Engineering Solutions and Pacific Renewable Energy Consulting ‒ will also handle the technology transfer and manage the plant.

The agreement, which is valid for one year, was signed by EEPCo CEO Mehiret Debebe and five representatives of Terra. They included two Ethiopians, chief operations officer Behailu Assefa, and director of African operations Dereje Abebe

Debre Berhan wind farm ‒ one of the seven wind power projects EEPCo plans to implement in the next five years ‒ was initially estimated to be able to generate 100 MW in the power corporation’s plan.

Acting director of corporate planning Mekuria Lemma explained that this projection was amended, however, after a subsequent assessment showed that it was possible to produce 400 MW in the area.

Terra Energy is expected to complete a feasibility study, environmental impact assessment and financial proposal by the end of the contract year.

Ethiopia’s first ever Wind Power Plant has been constructed in Ashegoda, near Mekelle, the capital of Tigray. This plant with an installed capacity of 120MW is planned to be functional by 2013 February with the completion of the first phase by June 2011 with a capacity of 30MW.

The EEPCo (Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation) has contracted Vergnet Groupe for this project and the finances have been provided by BNP Paribas through soft loans of approximately € 210 million, through Agence France de Development. The turbines are custom built to connect to a weak power grid that occasionally stops due to power breakdown. All the 120 wind turbines are on the project location and the concrete work has been concluded.

Close to 1 000 MW of the 8 000 MW by which Ethiopia’s power generating capacity is planned to increase over the next five years is estimated by EEPCo will come from wind energy.