Karuma hydroelectric power station, one of the largest in Uganda

Karuma hydroelectric power station is expected to be operational in March 2023 according to the Minister for Energy and Mineral Development, Ruth Nankabirwa. Nankabirwa made the revelation while announcing the 2023 electricity end-user tariffs in Kampala, the capital of Uganda.

The dam’s commissioning has been extended more than thrice. The first completion date was set for December 31, 2019. However, this date was extended to November 30, 2020, and later to June 22, 2022.

The Uganda Electricity Generation Company (UEGCL) has blamed the persistent delays on procurement hurdles, in addition to delays by the government to hand over land for the project, and hostile weather, including torrential rain, which slowed down some of the construction works.

Recently, UEGCL attributed the delays to discrepancies in electromechanical installations such as electric cables, wiring systems in the tunnels, and the fire extinguishing system which they say are being fixed.

Karuma Hydroelectric Power Station Project Overview

Karuma hydroelectric power station project is on the Nile River, in Kyandongo District, UgandaUganda’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) and Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) are spearheading the 600MW run-of-the-river power facility project.

The project comprises the construction of a 20m-high and 312m-long roller compact concrete (RCC) gravity dam. Upon completion, it will be the largest of its kind in East Africa. It will have a 35 km-long reservoir spread across an area of 2,737ha. At an estimate, the gross reservoir volume is 79.87 million m³.

The Karuma hydroelectric power station project will also involve the construction of six 20m-high and 29m-wide water intake towers. Six 7.7m diameter and up to 379m-long concrete lined pressure shafts. In addition, a 200m-long, 21.3m-wide, and 53m-high underground powerhouse cavern housing six 100MW vertical Francis turbines will be built. The turbines will operate under a gross head of 70m and a speed of 150 rotations per minute (rpm).

An Overview Of The Karuma Mega-Development

Moreover, two 314m-long, 21.5m-wide, and 50m-high orifice-type tailrace surge chambers will also be a part of the project. This is where water will go back to the river through two 12.9m diameter horseshoe-shaped tailrace tunnels approximately 8.6km long. The design discharge for the hydropower plant will be 1,128m³/s.

Power from the Karuma hydroelectric power station will derive from an underground transformer cavern located just above the underground powerhouse. The 200m-long, 18.0m-wide, and 14.4m-high transformer cavern will be with six 11kV/400kV step-up transformers. It will be connected with the powerhouse through a 40m-long bus duct tunnel.

Three transmission lines will be in use to feed the electricity generated by the facility to the national grid. These lines include the 248km-long 400kV Karuma-Kawanda line, the 55km-long Karuma-Olwiyo line, and the 80km-long Karuma-Lira transmission line. Furthermore, the project involves the construction of three new substations at Karuma, Kawanda, and Olwiyo. These will be built by the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company (UETCL).

Karuma hydroelectric power station project will cost at least US$ 1.7bn. It is financed 85% through a soft loan from the Export-Import (Exim) Bank of China, while the Ugandan government provides the remaining 15%. The loan’s repayment will be over a period of 25 years, at an average interest rate of 3%.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!