Reality Check: The Prudence of Tekeze Hydropower Plant | Ethiopia

Apr 13 2011

Ethiopia’s ‘Tekeze Hydropower Project’ had been awarded as best project of 2010 by POWER-GEN International. The 2010 Projects-of-the-Year-Award recognized eleven projects ‘that signified excellence in four categories’: Coal-fired; gas-fired; nuclear; and renewable/sustainable energy.’  Of which four were designated as ‘best project of the year’ in each category.

Tekeze Hydropower project’  was placed among the best four and designated ‘Best Renewable/Sustainable Project’ of the year.

The event took place on December 14/2010 in Orlando. Thus, it is a 4-months old news. Yet, I decided to post it given its informative value, while less publicized.Arch Dam upstream view of Tekeze Hydropower Plant [Photo from]

First, the project is located on Tekeze river, a tributary of Nile, thus counters the misgivings of downstream countries on Ethiopia’s projects.

Second, it evidences Ethiopia acts in an Environmentally responsible manner even in the absence of a western financier pushing to that end, at the project was domestically financed. This must give a lesson or two to western anti-dam groups. As it indicates not only the prudence of the Project itself, but also Ethiopia’s endeavor in the sector in general.

Third, there are narrow-minded politicians and media outlets who still attempt to discredit the merit of the project, though it is built in the border of the the two drought-stricken states of Ethiopia.

Thus, I posted here below a section describing Tekeze Hydropower Project from a January 1/2011 article by Lindsay Morris, Associate Editor of Power Engineering magazine, that lists the winners of the award.


Best of the Year – (Link)
Power Engineering magazine presented its 2010 Projects of the Year Awards in Orlando during POWER-GEN International
By Lindsay Morris, Associate Editor

At a gala banquet at POWER-GEN International in Orlando, Fla., on December 14, Power Engineering magazine’s editors recognized the 2010 Projects of the Year Award finalists and announced four winners. This year’s Projects of the Year Award winners and honorable mentions represented facilities and/or technology that signified excellence in four categories: coal-fired, gas-fired, nuclear and renewable/sustainable energy.

Site location of Tekeze Hydropower Plant [Photo from]

Best Renewable/Sustainable Project
Tekeze Hydropower Project

The Tekeze Hydropower project in Ethiopia, located a tributary of the Nile, is the Project of the Year for renewable/sustainable projects. The $350 million project, funded by the government of Ethiopiaand owned by Ethiopian Electric Power Corp., adds 40 percent more electric capacity to the country and was the largest public works project in Ethiopia’s history at the time of construction.

Due to the lack of natural resources and the cost of imported fuels, power generation in Ethiopia comes primarily from hydroelectric sources. Tekeze Hydropower’s 300 MW lifted Ethiopia’s generating capacity by 40 percent.

The Tekeze Hydropower project is the tallest arch dam in Africa at 188 meters. The 300 MW facility includes a double curvature concrete arch dam, a method of design that minimizes the amount of concrete used.

It created a reservoir 70 kilometers in length. An underground powerhouse containing four 75 MW Francis Turbines sits 500 meters downstream of the dam and is fed by a 75-meter-high intake structure connected by a 500-meter-long concrete-lined power tunnel.

A 230 kV double-circuit transmission line 105 kilometers long was constructed through mountainous terrain to connect to the Ethiopian national grid.

The project’s beginnings date back to 1995 when the Ethiopian Ministry of Water Resources conducted a study identifying the site as one of two preferred dam sites for hydropower development. MWHTekeze Hydropower Plant [Photo from] joined the project in 1998 and made modifications to an existing design for the dam, powerhouse and tunnel system, resulting in cost savings.

A multi-stage impoundment approach was implemented during construction, which allowed the river diversion to be closed in May 2007, nearly two years prior to dam completion. This allowed for more than 3 billion m3 of water to be retained, advancing generation by more than one full year.

The value of the water captured via early impoundment was worth approximately $40 million. In addition to power generation, the Tekeze dam enables regulation of river flow, allowing downstream communities year-round access to the water supply.

A 10-year 2000m3/sec flood on Aug. 9, 2006 was an unexpected test for the dam. The dam proved its ability as a gravity structure and no damage was incurred to any of the permanent structures.

Local community infrastructure was improved as a result of the project, including construction of more than 40 kilometers of roads and installation of the first communications links from the area to the outside world. Also as a result of the project, education was improved in the area as the wife of the MWH chief design engineer spearheaded efforts to build a new school near the village of Seboko.

The school was financed by contributions from engineers, contractors and staff working on the project, local residents and a supportive local government.

On-the-job training was also provided to locally-hired employees. Ethiopian Electric Power Corp. implemented programs to provide education and training to local workers. Programs included education to combat AIDS, malaria and other safety, health and welfare issues affecting the local community.


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