Vergnet to Construct Ethiopia’s First Wind Power Unit in Ashegoda

November 16th, 2010 | by addis portal |
Ethiopia’s first ever Wind Power Plant has been constructed in Ashegoda, near Mekelle, the capital of Tigray. This plant with an installed capacity of 120 MW is planned to be functional by 2013 February with the completion of the first phase by June 2011 with a capacity of 30 MW.

The EEPCo (Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation) has contracted Vergnet Groupe for this project and the finances have been provided by BNP Paribas, a French Bank, through  soft loans of approximately€ 210 million, through Agence France de Development. The plant is expected to generate 400 to 450 GW annually.

Vergnet Groupe President and Owner, Marc Vergnet, revealed that his firm was doing its best to accelerate the project’s development. The Ashegoda wind farm was projected as the largest wind farm in Africa. He also stated that 120 wind turbines with blades generating one MW power each would be installed. The turbines were custom built to connect to a weak power grid that occasionally stops due to power breakdown. All the 120 turbines were on the project location and the concrete work concluded.

The blades being 30 meters long, with a weight of four tons, would be carried by special trailers from Djibouti. Currently the installation of other equipment is being carried out by Vergnet. The company has already installed more than 700 wind turbines globally.

Mr. Vergnet also mentioned that his company’s wind turbines have only two blades when compared to the traditional three blades, and hence was much easier to install, eliminating the usage of special cranes. He also said that these blades have a self erection capacity with a life time of 20 years and easy maintenance. According to him the towers were also very robust and could even withstand typhoons of 300 kilometers/hour.

The company has also had a dialogue with a local engineering firm in Tigray for assistance in manufacturing some elements of the windmills. It plans to send the EEPCo engineers for training on the turbines to France. An onsite training unit is also planned for the Mekelle University students. This project is expected to provide employment to around 100 people with 300 jobs available during peak construction.

A combination of wind and hydropower will benefit the country greatly. At present only 25% of Ethiopians can access electricity. With this project this would increase to 50% by 2010.

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