Gibe III hydroelectric dam in Ethiopia
Hydropower Ethiopia: Gibe III hydroelectric dam. Pic credit: Precise Consult

Ethiopian Water and Energy Minister Alemayehu Tegenu announced this week that the country will start generating power from its largest hydroelectric power plant in the second half of 2015.

Tegenu told Bloomberg that: “Gibe III will start power generation after the rainy season. It will be this year.”

The $1.6 billion (ZAR24 billion) Gibe III power plant will have the capacity to generate 187MW of power from one of the 10 installed turbines when the rainy season is at its peak, June through to August.

Hydropower generation capacity

The government of Ethiopia has built a total of four hydroelectric dams since 2004 including the 1,870MW Gibe III.

The dams’ generated power is used to supply emerging manufacturing industries and any surplus is sold to neighbouring countries.

According to Tegenu, the state-owned generation body Ethiopian Electric Power Office is aiming to bring one turbine online every month once the plant begins generation power.

“If there is sufficient water in the reservoir, it will be possible to generate the maximum. If there’s no water, you will limit the number of turbines,” said Tegenu.

The developers of Gibe III, including Italian construction company Salini, claim that the project will increase the generation capacity in Ethiopia by 234% .

Tegenu added that the country expects to complete an electricity transmission line from Ethiopia to Kenya by 2018.

An electricity-transmission line from Ethiopia to Kenya may be finished in 2018, Alemayehu said.