Second 235MW turbine commissioned at Tanzania’s 2115MW Nyerere hydropower plant

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  • The second 235MW turbine at Julius Nyerere Hydropower Plant has been connected to the grid bringing 470MW online in Tanzania.
  • Also known as the Stiegler Gorge Dam and the Rufiji Hydroelectric Power Project, the project is planned to eventually have an installed capacity 2,115MW and produce 5,9GWh of power a year. Read more
  • The new mega hydro power plant is set to more than double the country’s energy generation capacity which currently stands at around 1900MW.
  • As a result of the added capacity, Tanzania prime minister Kassim Majaliwa announced at the end of last month that five small hydroelectric stations would be shut down.   

“We have turned off all these stations because the demand is low and the electricity production is too much, we have no allocation now,” an official from the state-run power company, Tanesco, said.

The Nyerere Hydropower Plant projectincludes construction of the main dam which will have a total length of 1,025 metres at crest level and a height of 131m; construction of a permanent bridge on the Rufiji River, which will be 250m high and 12m wide; construction of three power water ways with an average length of 550m. The power water ways will channel water to the hydro turbines. The Dongfang Electric Corporation (China) is making and installing nine turbine sets which will each have a 235MW capacity.

Related news: Conservationists have continued to voice concerns over the plant’s location within the UNESCO-protected Selous Game Reserve. Read more

Tanzania power generation and demand

Prior to the start of commissioning of the Nyerere Hydropower Plant, Tanzania had a total installed capacity of around 1900 MW,  consisting of 1194 MW or 63% produced with natural gas, 602 MW or 32% is hydropower, 84 MW or 4% is produced with fuel, and 10.5 MW or less than 1% from biomass.

The vast majority of the power is produced by Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) , which operates 8 natural gas power plants, 7 hydropower plants (5 now decommissioned), 2 heavy fuel oil plants, and 7 small gas oil power plants, as of 2022. The maximum national demand was recorded in August 2023 at 1482.80 MW. TANESCO estimates that the power demand is growing at a rate of 10-15% per year.

Growing hydro power surplus in East Africa 

Mozambique and Tanzania have plans to connect the East African power pool with the South African Power Pool (SAPP) via an interconnecting 400kV line between their countries. This offers Tanzania the opportunity to export power to the SAPP but the line will take years to construct. Read more

In the north, the historic 400kV transmission line connecting Tanzania and Kenya is nearing completion which presents an opportunity to export power to Kenya and some of its neighbouring countries however, Kenya is already importing 200MW of power from Ethiopia who has surplus power after commissioning started on their massive 6450MW Grand Renaissance Dam Hydropower Project in 2022 . Read more 

Mozambique in turn are at an advanced stage in their plans for a second major hydro power plant to compliment the 2115MW Cahora Bassa hydro plant. French IPP, EDF, recently signed an implementation agreement for the  1500MW Mphanda Nkuwa hydro project. Read more  

Author: Bryan Groenendaal


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