Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hydropower development in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is one of the African countries with major hydropower potential.  In fact, it has been estimated that DRC has more than 100GW of hydropower potential, most of which refers to Congo River.

The area of Congo river already has two major hydroelectric power plants - Inga 1 & Inga 2, with the combined capacity of 1.8 GW. The development of Inga 3, with the total capacity of 4.7 GW is also being pursued by the Government of DRC.  A few months ago, the World Bank announced it would provide $73.1 million of grant funding for the technical assistance study with the total grant being worth $106.5 million.

The World Bank's report claims that 1GW share of Inga 3 power will be sold to the national utility Societe Nationale d'Electricite (SNEL) and the mining sector in Katanga province will get 1.3GW, while for the project development is also important commitment from power-hungry South Africa to buy 2.5GW of generated electricity.

The estimated costs of Inga 3 hydro project are said to be at around $11 billion, though it is more likely that final costs will reach $14 billion once the project is over. The first generating unit of Inga 3 BC is intended to be commissioned in 2021.

DRC also has many sites where it can develop small to medium sized hydro projects. According to World Bank report the country has more than 500 sites of less than 10MW capacity.  Small hydro schemes are under the auspices of the Ministry of Hydraulic resources and Electricity (MRHE). The World Bank has given $25.6 million grant to the small-to-mid-sized hydro projects.