By: John Muchira
New high-voltage power transmission lines will have to be constructed in Ethiopia to evacuate electricity from emerging power-generation projects, with the existing network unable to transport electricity that will be generated.
In addition, the Horn of Africa nation aims to become a net exporter of electricity. Ethiopia has, therefore, contracted Power Grid Corporation of India to undertake a feasibility study to determine the highest needed voltage power capacities of the transmission lines.
The study will be conducted taking into consideration the power generation capacity of the country for the next 25 years. It is expected to be completed within six months and will cost $225 000. The study is part of the country’s plans to invest a total of $3,5-billion in transmission and distribution infrastructure.
A senior official at the State-owned Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) says the need to invest in new transmission lines has become apparent because the existing lines do not have the capacity to use the power to be generated from new plants. “We need robust transmission facilities to transport electricity from new hydro and wind plants,” he said.
Currently, Ethiopia has 11 124 km of high-voltage transmission lines that transmit power at different kilovolt levels, starting from 32 kV to the maximum 400 kV of carrying capacity.
Under the ambitious Growth and Trans-formation Plan, Ethiopia must increase power transmission and distribution lines from 126 038 km to 258 000 km within the next four years.
The new high-voltage transmission lines Ethiopia intends to construct include the 400 kV, 212 km Debremarkos–Gebreguracha–Sululuta line, which will cost of $80-million; the 500 kV line joining Ethiopia with Kenya; the 315 km 230 kV Wolkite–Hosaina–Alaba, Gilgel Gibe I–Jimma–Agaro–Bedele line; and the 352 km Koka–Hurson 230 kV line.
Already Ethiopia is undertaking massive investments in generation plants, including the Grand Millennium dam with a capacity to generate 5 250 MW and the Gibe III dam with a capacity of 1 800 MW.
Others include wind power plants including Ashegoda (120 MW), Adama I and II (51 MW each), Assela (100 MW), Ayisha (300 MW) and Messobo (42 MW).
The country with a population of around 80-million people plans to produce 20 000 MW of power within the next decade at a total cost of $12-billion.
EEPCo estimates that Ethiopia has the capacity to generate 5 000 MW of geothermal power, 10 000 MW of wind power and 45 000 MW of hydropower.