Tanzania commissions first 235MW turbine at 2115MW Julius Nyerere Hydropower Plant

  • Tanzania’s energy minister and deputy prime minister, Mr Doto Biteko, has announced that the first 235MW turbine at Julius Nyerere Hydropower Plant has been connected to the grid.
  • 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.

The project site includes 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.

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

Biteko acknowledged the delicate balance between energy needs and environmental preservation. He said that the government is dedicated to prioritising water sustainability at all hydro projects in the country.

Biteko emphasized the turbine’s role in alleviating the power generation shortages in the country and said the situation would improve further when the second turbine is commissioned next month.

According to the World Bank, electricity access in Tanzania has increased from 7% in 2011 to 37.7% in 2020. This represents one of the fastest access expansion rates in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Despite this progress, a large gap remains between electricity access rates in urban areas (73.2%) and rural areas (24.5%), and between grid coverage (78.4%) and the overall access or connectivity rate (37.7%). The government is committed to further accelerating access to modern energy services and has set a target to achieve universal access to modern energy services by 2030, of which 75% will be electrified through national and mini-grids and the remaining 25% through quality verified off-grid solutions.

About the project

In 2018, Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (TANESCO) and the Joint Venture of the Arab Contractors and ELSEWEDY ELECTRIC entered into an Engineering, Procurement, and Construction contract for the execution of Julius Nyerere Hydropower Project.

The dam, that is the fourth largest in Africa, and ninth largest in the world, is located across the Rufiji River, at Stiegler’s Gorge, in the Selous Game Reserve, Morogoro Region, southwest of Dar Es Salaam, the commercial capital and the largest city of Tanzania. The power generated will be evacuated via a 400kV high voltage power line to a substation onsite where the power is integrated into the national electricity grid.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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