Construction of the Stiegler’s Gorge Power Generation Project in Tanzania is set to commence in July this year. The country is hoping to more than double its electricity production capacity in the next three years as part of its plan to become electricity sufficient and export the surplus.
The dam on the Rufiji River in the Selous Game Reserve will be the largest in the country and is set to produce 2,100MW.
Tanzania recently launched the US $353.7m Kinyerezi II power plant with an installed capacity of 240MW. The plant which is on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam, was built by Japanese firms Sumitomo Corporation, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and Toshiba Plant Systems.
According to Energy Minister Dr Medard Kalemani, the government hopes to complete two more projects in Kinyerezi to generate 600MW using natural gas.
The Stiegler’s Gorge power project announcement, however, triggered opposition from environmental conservationists and one legislator. The lobbies have maintained that a power plant inside the Selous Game Reverve, a World Heritage site, will destroy the habitat.
Conservationists fear that Selous could be removed from the list of areas listed by the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organization (Unesco) should the Tanzania government proceed to build a mega-hydropower project inside the park.
The MP for Mtama constituency in the gas-rich Lindi region, Nape Nnauye, criticized the government’s investment in the project at the expense of gas projects.
Mr Nnauye told Parliament that Tanzania was abandoning gas power generation after launching the Rufiji River one, oblivious to the investment already sunk into natural gas exploration and drilling in the south.
The funds for Kinyerezi II plant add up to US $292m. The plant will also generate almost 15% of the country’s total capacity by the end of this year. Furthermore it will add 36 million standard cubic feet (scf) to meet the national daily gas demand.
Tanzania has also been banking on the development of its vast gas find into electricity to increase its generating capacity. This will provide a dedicated power line for the SGR network. Power generation capacity is at about 1,500MW, against a demand of 1,352MW.
Dr Kalemani said Stiegler’s, the remaining phases of Kinyerezi and other energy projects in Mtwara will produce 3,780MW for Tanzania, bringing its total installed electricity generation capacity to 5,293.3MW.