Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam to begin producing electricity in 2015

GERD official websiteThe GERD will produce 6,000MW of power and help Ethiopia reduce deficits. (Image source: Grand Millenium Dam)The 6,000 MW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) hydropower project, worth US$4.7bn, will begin generating electricity in 18 months, according to the Ethiopian government

Two turbines from among 16 at the plant will start producing 750 MW of power from September 2015, depending on rainfall patterns.

The project will become the largest power plant in Africa according to government officials, and is being built on the Blue Nile River, the main tributary of the Nile which is 30km from the Sudanese border. GERD will cover an area of 1,800 sq km and will be 170 metres tall, according to reports.

According to Zadig Abraha, deputy general director of GERD's National Coordination Office, Ethiopia is boosting electricity output to cater to growing demands and electricity production might have to increase to 35 per cent annually to feed the country's growing economy.

Increasing electricity generating capacity from the existing 2,000 MW will allow Ethiopia to sell excess power and reduce trade deficits of US$8.5bn. The East African nation already exports power to Sudan and Djibouti. Construct has already started on a transmission line to Kenya and the country's government has also been in talks with Yemen and South Sudan over the export of electricity, added Abraha.

"Once GERD is finished and other hydropower projects including the 1,870 MW Gibe III are online, Ethiopia may earn US$2bn a year from the exports," Abraha said.

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