Africa's biggest wind farm opens

20,000 square kilometres of Ethiopia are suitable for grid-based wind power generation, with a total capacity of 100 GW.
The 120MW wind farm will produce 400,000 MWh of electricity per year.

Africa's biggest wind farm, at Ashegoda in Tigray, Ethiopia, is being inaugurated today after a three year construction period. This marks the completion of the last of three construction phases. The 120 MW wind farm has already injected 90 MWh of electricity into Ethiopia's power grid since commissioning began earlier this year, and is expected to produce a total of 400,000 MWh per year hereafter.

According to the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo), Ashegoda is the second windiest place in Ethiopia with an average annual wind speed of 8.5 m/s 40m above ground level. A recent SWERA (Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment) study identified 20,000 square kilometres of Ethiopia as suitable for grid-based wind power generation, with a total capacity of 100 GW. The assessment also identified 11 specific sites, of which Ashegoda is one

The project has been undertaken by in association with Lahmeyer International of Germany. Lahmeyer began seven years ago with a feasibility study for the project, financed by German aid agency GTZ. The company then supervised the project’s execution along with young Ethiopian engineers.

EEPCo competitive tender was won by the French Vergnet Groupe who signed a contract with EEPCO in October 2008. The work commenced a year later after the necessary financing packages had been finalised by BNP Paribas of France, and the French Development Agency (ADF).

The first phase of the project was constructed using Vergnet turbines, producing 30 MW, each turbine producing 1 MW. Phases II and III were constructed with 54 Alstom-supplied turbines, with each unit producing 1.67 MW. Phase II and Phase III have a combined total of 90 MW.

The project was the first of its kind in Ethiopia when it commenced in October 2009. But since then two smaller wind-farms, Adama I and II, with a capacity of 51 MW each, have been completed. These are near Adama, which lies an hour’s drive south east of Addis Ababa.

"The completion of the Ashegoda power project has constituted a great achievement for EEPCo and its staff who have been working relentlessly on site to ensure a timely completion", said the company's CEO, Mr Meheret Debebe.

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