Ethiopia: Tana Beles begins to buzz

Tana Beles Construction
Tana Beles, the largest hydropower plant in the country, was officially inaugurated on Friday May 14 after four years of construction.

By Groum Abate, Capital

Tana Beles, the largest hydropower station in the country, was officially inaugurated on Friday May 14 after four years of construction.
The plant with the capacity of producing 460 megawatts was constructed by the Italian contractor Salini Constructtori S.A. for seven billion birr. Mihret Dibebe, CEO of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo), told Capital his corporation is planning to maintain the other hydropower plants that have over worked in the last couple of years due power shortages when Beles goes fully operational.

Beles is considered unique as discharged water from the power house will be used for irrigation downstream, benefiting farmers.
The power plant that will be fully operational in a month’s time will greatly ease the shortage that costs the country an estimated one percent of its gross domestic product.
Mihret said Tekezze power plant that was inaugurated a couple of months ago is working properly and has had no technical problems. “But due to a low level of water at the reservoir, the power plant could not generate power as needed currently,” Mihiret added. He said the reservoir is expected to collect more water in the coming rainy season and should be fully operational by next year.
The CEO also said the power rationing that is affecting big industries was eased as of Monday May 10. The corporation has allowed factories that consume high power to work at their full capacity as Beles starts generating 115 MW of power from one of its four turbines.

EEPCo some weeks ago ordered big power consuming factories to cease production after part of a tunnel at Gilgel Gibe II collapsed. That problem is being repaired and will be operational in the next few months, according to officials of the corporation. When completed, the two power stations will double the country’s current power production.

EEPCo has plans to export electricity to neighbouring countries after meeting local demands. The corporation has signed agreements with Djibouti, Sudan and Kenya for the supply of electricity.
Beles is located in Achefuer District in Amhara Regional State, some 565 km northwest of Addis Ababa.