Ethiopia: First stage of the filling of the reservoir of the Grand Renaissance Dam

10 Sep 2020

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project is part of the Country development and transformation programme that was defined by the Ethiopian government in the early 2010's. Once completed this strategic project will become the largest power generation plant in Africa. Tractebel is working alongside Ethiopian Electric Power to help it meet the challenges of this strategic project.

In order to contribute to the development of the Ethiopian economy, notably by providing reliable low-cost electricity thus stimulating economic and industrial activity, the Grand Renaissance Dam, located on the Blue Nile, plans to install a 5,150 megawatts power generation capacity, doubling the country's electricity production capacity.

A milestone reached this summer

In July, after 9 years of work, a historic step has just been taken: the first stage of filling the reservoir of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance dam up to elevation 560 m.
Since Monday 20th July, the Blue Nile has been flowing over the temporary sill built in the main dam at elevation 560 m, creating a reservoir of 70m of maximum depth at this stage.
Works will continue over the coming months in order to carry out the second stage of the impoundment up to elevation 595 m and then to start the production of energy.

A technical challenge

Tractebel has been working with Ethiopian Electric Power on this technically complex project of exceptional size since 2011. In consortium with Electroconsult (Italy), Tractebel is acting as Owner's Engineer, providing technical assistance, project and contract management services and coordination of the design and construction.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project is composed of several components whose:

  • 145 m high Roller Compacted Concrete dam with a crest length of 1 780 m and volume of 10.1 Mm3;
  • 50 m-high concrete-faced rockfill saddle dam with a crest length of 5 200 m and volume 17 Mm3;
  • a system of spillways 18000 m3/s capacity and bottom outlets 1800m3/s capacity;
  • 2 power plants equipped for a total installed capacity of 5 150 MW with a 500 kV outdoor switchyard and relevant control building;
  • one 280 km single circuit 400 KV transmission line, with two 400 KV substations at both ends ;
  • 2 bridges over the Blue Nile and 240 km of roads.

"Due to its exceptional size, this project is particularly complex, with strong technical and managerial challenges. Thanks to our multiple expertise in the field of hydropower, we were able to accompany and advise our client from the beginning of the project" explains Jean-Louis Cervetti, Project Director

When completed, the Grand Renaissance power plant will be the largest hydropower plant in Africa and the 15th largest in the world.


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