Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ethiopia has started construction of 6,000 MW hydroelectric dam

Ethiopia has numerous river and lake systems and therefore an excellent hydropower potential. Up until now this excellent hydropower potential has been largely unused but this is about to change as Ethiopia has started construction of a 6,000 megawatt (MW) hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile river.

This large hydroelectric power plant, once built, should help satisfy country's growing energy demand. This project is set to complete in six and the half years and is being built by the Italian construction company Salini Costruttori. The lake created by this dam should contain more than 60 billion cubic metres of water, twice as much as Lake Tana, Ethiopia’s largest body of water.

The public of Ethiopia has almost unanimously greeted this project not just because this project will provide country with plenty of clean electricity but also because of its symbolical significance, as a road to a bright future from the past full of famine and conflict.

Blue Nile river in Ethiopia.

The neighboring countries, Egypt and Sudan do not share this opinion. Both these countries are downstream and they fear that the dam could cause a reduction in water available to them.

The possible negative environmental impact hasn't been much discussed. Ethiopia's minister of water and energy, Gossaye Mengiste, said that the environmental impact of this hydro project would be minimal, and also added that there is no need for mass relocation of people because the area around the dam is very scarcely populated.

The other benefits of this dam include lessened evaporation in downstream areas in Sudan and Egypt, and reduced risk of flooding and siltation.

The only thing that still remains is for Ethiopian government to secure enough financing to cover the $4.8 billion cost of the project. Ethiopia has already started selling five-year treasury bonds, and has given this project a priority by announcing that other projects may be postponed if necessary in order to ensure the completion of this large dam.