Mphanda Nkuwa Hydropower Project is a proposed 1,500 megawatts run-of-the-river hydroelectric facility set for development on the Zambezi River, in the Tete province of Mozambique.
The project scope includes the construction of a dam, powerhouse, inlet, and outlet tunnel infrastructure, installation of turbines, and laying of transmission lines. The dam will be located approximately 60 kilometers downstream of the existing Cahora Bassa Dam near the city of Tete with its left bank on the Chiuta district side and the right bank on the Changara district side.
It will be a 700m-long and 86m-high concrete gravity dam with 13 flood gates. With a crest elevation of 211m, the dam will create a 100km² reservoir that will extend more than 60km on the Zambezi River as well as approximately 18km on the Luia River reaching the districts of Cahorra Bassa and Maravia.
The project’s powerhouse will be equipped with four Francis turbine units with the capacity to generate 365MW each. Upon completion, the power plant will utilize the water flow released by the Cahora Bassa hydropower plant to rotate the four turbines that will subsequently generate a total of 1,500MW or the equivalent of approximately 8,600GWh of electricity per year.
The electricity is planned to be evacuated through a 650km-long, 400kV high-voltage alternating current (HVAC) transmission line, which will be constructed as part of the project, connecting the Cataxa substation at Marara, for domestic use.
Owing to power trading arrangements coordinated by the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), the surplus electricity generated by the Mphanda Nkuwa Hydropower plant will be exported to the neighboring countries through a 1,300km-long 550kV high-voltage direct current (HVDC) line that will be constructed to connect the Maputo substation in Mozambique with the South Africa Grid.
The project team
The US$ 4.4bn Mphanda Nkuwa Hydropower Project is developed by a special purpose vehicle comprising of the state-owned Electricidade de Mocambique (EDM), the operator of the 2,075MW Cahora Bassa hydropower plant Hidroeléctrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB), and a strategic partner yet to be selected on a limited recourse project finance basis.
The project was earlier planned to be developed and operated by Mphanda Nkuwa Hydroelectric Facility (HMNK), a consortium of Camargo Corrêa, Insitec Pty Ltd, and EDM.
A consortium of four companies, including the international financial advisory services company for the infrastructure sector Synergy Consulting, the Australian engineering company Worley Parsons, and law farms Baker Mckenzie and HRA Advogados, was selected to provide consulting advisory services for the project.
In December, the government signed a 35-year concession agreement for the project with the HMNK consortium.
Construction works were scheduled to start in 2011 and be completed in 2015, but the plan did not advance due to a lack of finance as well as the delay in securing a power-purchase agreement with South Africa.
In September, the International Development Association (IDA), a member of the World Bank Group that offers concessional loans and grants to the world’s poorest developing countries, approved a loan to develop the project.
In August, the government revoked the concession to the Camargo Corrêa and Insitec-led consortium and announced the involvement of HCB in the development of Mphanda Nkuwa project.
In February, the government of the South African county created a new entity dubbed Mphanda Nkuwa Hydroelectric Project Implementation Office (GMNK) to coordinate the project development.
In September, the Mozambican authorities appointed a consortium of four companies to provide legal, financial, and engineering consulting and advisory services to GMNK for the Mphanda Nkuwa project.
Construction on the project is expected to start in 2021, while commissioning is expected in 2028.
In July, the government announced plans to sell a majority stake in the project to potential investors in a bid to fast track or rather to reach financial close by 2024.
The successful investor(s) will implement the project in partnership with EDM and HCB.