News and Views

Uganda meets power needs as Bujagali delivers 250MW

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By Ibrahim Kasita

The multi-million dollar Bujagali hydropower project has finally delivered the 250MW contracted capacity, which has been added onto the national grid for consumption.

This development means Uganda can meet her electricity needs for at least two years from now.

“There is no more load-shedding whatsoever because all the machines are up and running,” Eng Irene Muloni, the minister of energy and mineral development, confirmed.

“When our people do not get electricity starting now, then they should know that it is technical problem and they should report to Umeme the company distributing electricity.”

The minister said the machines are perfectly undergoing testing as the nation awaits the final commission next month.

Bujagali Energy Ltd (BEL) Thursday announced the successful completion of the mandatory seven day reliability test run for the fifth unit. Unit four was commissioned two weeks ago.

Bill Groth, the project’s resident construction manager, said the development marks a milestone for the plant and is significant.

He said it confirms that each of the individual units is capable of delivering the unit contracted capacity of 50MW.

And it establishes that the power station is capable of delivering the contracted capacity of 250MW with all five units operating together.

Groth explained that the commissioning of the unit five has been achieved ahead of the 31 July 2012 projected date.  All units have been commissioned ahead of their respective projected commissioning dates.

“Today is a momentous day for BEL and its sponsors as well as the contractors who have all worked really hard to deliver power ahead of schedule and on budget under some extremely challenging circumstances and expectations,” he said.

“What now remains is fine tuning and testing, which may necessitate unit shutdowns, in order to guarantee reliable performance of the units before we fully hand over the power station to the operation and maintenance team.”

Effectively consumers will not experience load-shedding at any time as power deficit has been wiped out –at least for 24 months.

The $860m Bujagali hydropower project was commissioned unit by unit basis in response to energy ministry’s strategic decision to replace the expensive thermal power generation at the earliest date and minimise load-shedding.

This was aimed at saving the money that was used to pay the expensive thermal power operations.  The level of subsidy (payment for thermal power) has reached unsustainable levels and the cumulative amount of subsidy paid out was sh1.5 trillion.

Efforts are going to be made to ensure delivery of cheaper power supply solutions and ensuring reliable supply so that the country does not plunge into another power supply crisis,” vowed Muloni.

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