A division of state utility Ethiopia’s Electric Light and Power Corporation is updating transformers in the capital Addis Ababa and regional states in a bid to stop frequent power cuts.

Ethiopian Electric Services plans to replace 248 transformers to boost existing infrastructure that is struggling to cope with an increased power demand.

Chinese power company China Hydro, which won the tender for the work, has installed 170 supportive transformers.

Minister of water, irrigation and energy Alemyehu Tegenu said: “We have noted some improvements and we will install more supportive transformers based on the need assessment we undertake.”

Electricity demand

Mr Tegenu said that there was no shortage of electric power in the country – Ethiopia has an installed generation capacity of 2,268 MW from hydro, wind, geothermal and thermal energy – but attributed frequent power cuts to old power distribution lines. The power distribution network and the electric transformers are also over-loaded.

The electric power demand is increasing at a rate of 32 per cent every year to more than 2,000MW due to the flourishing manufacturing sector.

Alemayehu said power consumption trends in the country is also changing. “Previously residents of Addis Ababa used biomass fuel. Now people use electric power to cook. The rapid investment activity needs more energy.

“The existing power generation capacity is adequate to accommodate the existing demand. However, the aging distribution system is unable to handle the ever-increasing power demand.”

Renewable energy

The Ethiopian government is currently building power plants with a total installed generation capacity of 8450MW including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (6000MW), the Gilgel Gibe III (1870MW), Genale Dawa (254MW), Adama II wind power project (153MW) and the 70 MW geothermal power development project in the rift valley.