18 April 2018

East Africa: 'Ethiopia to Install Additional Power Transmission Lines to Sudan and Djibouti' - Engineer Azeb Asnake, CEO Ethiopian Electric Power

Photo: The Guardian
Electricity.
interview

Ethiopia is endowed with huge renewable energy potentials and currently it has been aggressively engaged in increasing national energy generation, transmission and distribution capacity to satisfy domestic demand whilst surplus production ready to export market to supplement its foreign currency earnings and enhance regional economic integration. Apart from renewable energy sources, Ethiopia reached agreement with Russia tobuildanuclear facility and nuclear research instituteduring country's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recent visit.

Engineer Azeb, who said the nuclear agreement needs a lengthy process to implementation, the project come to Ethiopia in a timely manner. In her stay with The Addis Zemen Daily, the CEO gave responses in this and other issues.

Excerpts:

Would you enlighten us about the under-construction power generations projects apart from the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam?

Ethiopia's potential in generating electricity has reached at the highest level and currently we have total capacity of producing 4,500 megawatts (MW) of electricity from various sources mainly from hydro. Accordingly, the construction of the 254 MW Genale Dawa III project is near to completion.

Concerning wind farm power projects, we have Adama I, II and Ashegoda power plants with aggregate capacity of 354 MW of electricity. Furthermore, the ongoing Aysha II wind farm power project has the capacity of generating 120 MW of electricity. Similarly, the country has huge potential to produce electricity from geothermal sources and the Aluto Geothermal Power Plant expansion project, which enlarges the plant's installed capacity from 7 to 70 MW, is well underway.

Furthermore, the construction of Kurbete and Tulumoye geothermal power plants, which we signed agreements with private investors to develop them, is in a good progress. The two plants have an installed capacity of producing 500 MW of electricity each. The nearly- completion Reppie Waste to Energy Facility is among the ongoing power generation plants with a capacity of generating 50 MW of electricity. Apart from its role in power generation, Reppie expected to have big contribution for the sanitation of Addis Ababa by consuming 1,400 tons of metropolis' waste a day.

The Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) and Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC) reached agreement for the construction of the MelkaSedi Thermal Power Project. The plant used the bagasse from the nearby sugar factories and has the capacity to produce 137 MW of electricity. Recently, we began solar energy development activities in various parts of the country and Methera Solar Energy Project is our biggest solar energy project with an installed capacity of 100 MW. Similarly, plan is set to develop solar energy in Humera, Mekele and other parts of the country.

Could you tell us when the ongoing projects would commence operation?

Currently the construction of Genale Dawa Hydro Project is completed except from some electromechanical tasks and compensation fees. Similarly, compensation fees posed challenge in the Reppie Plant since the water treatment facility enforced us to displace people from their houses. Now the issue is settled, and we are partnering with City Government of Addis Ababa to provide the necessary waste that keeps the plant operational.

Would you brief us about power transmission lines?

We have given equal attention to power transmission activities and installed the lines in all power generation projects. For instance, the 500-kilo volt (KV) transmission line, the first of its kind in the country, would be installed in GERD and the dam would also connected with several big power transmission plants. Similarly, the construction of the 400-kilo volt power transmission line that carries electricity from Genale Dawa Project to national grid system is also worth mentioning.

How do you describe Ethiopia's move in selling electricity?

Ethiopia exports electricity to Djibouti and Sudan and the work on the 500 KV Ethio-Kenya interconnection transmission line is in good progress. The project is financed by the World Bank, Africa Development Bank and French banks. Upon completion, the transmission line expected to carry the electricity to Tanzania and other east African countries via Kenya. Due to our neighbors' ever-increasing demand for power, we are in the process of installing additional power transmission lines to Sudan and Djibouti and conducting extensive studies in this regard.

What do you tell us about the performance of Ethio-Kenya interconnection transmission line?

Currently, over 95 percent of the construction of the Ethio-Kenya interconnection transmission line is completed and work on the project is executed by the respective countries. We have encountered some delay in the construction of Wolayata Soddo Power Converter Plant and currently the work has been carried out steadily. Something worth understand in this project is the operation of the Ethio-Kenya interconnection transmission line is subject to the completion of GERD.

How do you describe Ethiopia's cooperation with fellow Africans in power export?

Africa has several regional electric blocks and Ethiopia chairs the 10-countries East African block. The block promotes electricity trade among member countries and Ethiopia serves the powerhouse of in establishing power interconnection with Djibouti and Sudan prior to the existence of the block. The benefit of the block transcends power interconnection and would be beneficial in ensuring regional peace and economic stability and we are committed in furthering the partnership.

Could we expect GERD to commence power generation in the current year?

We set the plan to produce power from GERD at a pilot level in the current Ethiopian fiscal year and expect the upcoming rainy season would be vital to accumulate water in the Dam. The water accumulation process, however, needs sometime to commence power generation at a trial level.

It is recalled that Ethiopia signed agreement with Russia in nuclear power development. Does it consider country's move away from renewable energy?

Ethiopia's energy policy centered on the development of renewable energy resources and most of the existing power plants are hydro. But the performance of renewable sources could be harmed during the occurrences of drought and we do remember how El-nino affect the water level of rivers and dams. In this regard, nuclear is a viable option to overcome this challenge and it is part of our efforts to diversify country's energy sources from wind, geothermal as well as solar. The current rapid industrialization drives the power demand and we could not satisfy this demand solely by renewable energy sources and even though the agreement needs much time to come to effect, I could safely say the move is praiseworthy.

TRANSLATED BY BILAL DERSO

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