Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant Liberia

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Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant in Liberia was first built in the 1960s and was commissioned in 1967. A the time it was installed with 2 Francis turbines and in 1973 an additional 2 Francis turbines increased the capacity to 64 MW.

Things did not augur well for the plant and it fell into disuse during the war years. It was refurbished in 2020 and added 88mw to the national grid from its 4 turbines increasing the available power in a country badly in need of electricity.

Reconstruction of the Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant was a slow process and in 2019 contractors constructing the gigantic electricity station were warned against failing to meet the completion date of March 2020, at which time (CLSG) Interconnection Project was to be commissioned.

Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant now online is the country’s largest source of power and at only 88mw is indicative of the country’s need for further investment in this sector.

Future of the Plant

The Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea (CLSG) Interconnection Project is a 1,357-km-long  225 kV double circuit that will connect the four countries’ power grids. Power will be transmitted from Cote d’Ivoire to Liberia, and then to Sierra Leone and Guinea. Liberia plans to use it as a means of increasing its revenue generation and at the same time solving its power quandary once the lines are powered.

The power lines bring in the electricity from the Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant to the sub-stations while LEC sells to customers based on a transmission service agreement with TRANSCO CLSG and Power Purchase Agreement with Cote D’Ivoire. The project is a connection to which all the 14 ECOWAS states will be connected and so, Liberia will be able to export electricity or import electricity and big companies in the future will be able to buy energy.

The new deadline for March 2020 was decided during a meeting, held in Monrovia from Monday to Tuesday, December 9-10, which was attended by key donor partners including the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, and the German Development Bank or KFW, after which an inspection of the sub-station on Wednesday followed.

Mr. Etienne Bailly, Director of the Project Implementation Unit of Transco CLSG emphasized that “failure is not an option” for the contractors and admonished them to collaborate and fast-track the work.

There are also three other sub-stations that are also nearing completion. The sub-stations in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County; Yekepa, Nimba County; Bo-Waterside, and Grand Cape Mount County are all expected to be commissioned in March next year with the exception of the fifth one in Botota in Bong county.

Reported earlier

Jan 2014

Reconstruction of the Mount Coffee hydro Electric plant

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has broken grounds for the rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee Hydro Electric Plant in Harrisburg, lower Montserrado County. President Sirleaf said the rehabilitation marks the beginning of a life change for the people of Liberia as it’s a quest for affordable and cheap energy. She said that the project is the result of the collective efforts of all Liberians who have resolved that affordable and cheap electricity is the surest way for an economic boom, especially in the manufacturing industry.

Sirleaf stressed that working together as one people will further direct the country’s development efforts thereby accelerating the government’s agenda for the transformation of which energy is of top priority. Lands, Mines, and Energy Minister Patrick Sendolo indicated that the rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee Hydro is a dream come true and a further demonstration of responsible and visionary leadership for economic revitalization.

President Sirleaf urged the Harrisburg Township Commissioner as well as residents to take ownership of the rehabilitation process by cooperating with the engineers. Besides power production and transmission, the Liberian leader indicated that the local community will soon begin to benefit from fish and other water resources upon the completion of the hydro plant which would subsequently turn the community into a tourist attraction and the only way this can be realized is through ownership by the people who live there.

The Ambassadors of the two fund-contributing countries, Norway and Germany, in separate remarks reaffirmed their respective countries’ commitment to collaborating with the government in rehabilitating its energy program.

Finance Minister Amara Konneh disclosed that the cost of the rehabilitation and upgrading of the Mount Coffee plant is estimated at US$230 million. To fund the work, Minister Konneh said Government has concluded a US$65 million concessional loan deal with the European Central Bank, while donors have committed US$107 million. Germany and Norway have pledged grants of US$32 million and US$75 million respectively with the Liberian Government has budgeted US$45 million for the project.

The remaining funds will be raised through the European Investment Bank as a loan and would help to fast-track the loan acquisition.

Oct 2016

Liberia rejuvenates hydropower with Mount Coffee plant

The Mount Coffee Plant expected to supply electricity to the Liberian nation coming this December is almost complete. The CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the Liberian U.S. Ambassador toured the facility last week.

Mr.Monie Captan, CEO of Millennium Challenge Agency gave a brief summary of the project which started in May 2012 and construction began in January 2014.

“We have reconstructed the sector of the dam that was washed away in 1990 and have upgraded the rest of the dam. We have built one new substation and two overhead transmission lines from Mount Coffee to Bushrod Island and Paynesville,” Captan said.

Mr.Captan added that the local community near the plant will get many benefits such as financial management, a new clinic for Harrisburg, and illiteracy and skills development on job. The plant will bring about 650 new job opportunities during the construction.

With the first phase of the reservoir fully filled with water (impounded), the way has been cleared for the commissioning of the first 22-megawatt turbine in December.

The Project Director of the Project Implementation Unit (PIU) of the Liberia Electricity Corporation, Mr. Bill Hakin, said that the impoundment is a key milestone as it is a pre-condition for the first turbine commission.

On October 15, the spillway gates were slowly closed so as to boost the water level in the reservoir. On Wednesday, October 19 the water level reached 28 meters above sea level (masl).
“This is a major high point for the project, given that at this water level, we are now able to begin testing the first turbine unit, and this wouldn’t have been feasible without great teamwork and a lot of commitment,” said Bill.

He said that despite facing some challenges the Mount Coffee plant is still on schedule to allow the hydropower facility to supply electricity to the LEC grid by December 2016 as planned.

Dec 2016

Mt. Coffee Hydro Power Plant in Liberia undergoes testing

Mt. Coffee Hydro Power Plant in Harrisburg, Liberia undergoes testing of the first generating unit of the Power Plant. According to a release from the Liberia Electricity Corporation, the turbine, which has a capacity of 22MW has been tested ahead of the December 15 commissioning of the Unit.

Phase I of the reservoir impoundment (filling the reservoir with water) of the Dam Project was successfully completed on October 19, 2016. On October 15, the spillway gates were gradually closed in order to increase the water level in the reservoir.

Currently, the water level has increased to 28.5 meters above sea level (masl) which is just 0.5 meters below the maximum operating level. During the testing exercise, customers experienced brief, periodic interruptions in the power supply.

The testing will continue up to December 15, when the first operations of the hydropower plant will be officially inaugurated by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Meanwhile, the management of the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) has issued an apology for any inconvenience as a result of this exercise and has asked for the support of the Liberian people leading up to this very important milestone for the nation. Customers are advised to make the necessary preparations in relation to these power interruptions.

The Mount Coffee Hydropower Project is a hydroelectric project in the West African nation of Liberia on the Saint Paul River. Built-in 1966 with additional phases completed later, the project had a maximum generating capacity of 64 MW. The Walter F. Walker Hydro Dam and generating facilities were extensively damaged during the First Liberian Civil War and are not currently functioning.

The initial generating capacity was 30 MW produced by two turbines, which was increased to 64 MW when two more turbines were added in 1973. In June 1990, the government announced plans to more than double the electricity generating capacity of the project and add a reservoir to allow more generation during the dry season.

The plans called for a new 4,000 feet (1,200 m) dam to be built upriver on the Via River to provide storage capacity, while two 52MW turbines would be added at the existing power generating plant. The US$300m expansion was never begun