Top 10+ Biggest and Majestic Hydroelectric Plants in Africa
Some of the biggest dams in the world that use water power to generate electricity can be found in Africa. The abundance of water systems in Africa, home to the Nile, Congo, and Niger Rivers, has led to a resurgence in the construction of large dams to manage the supply of water distribution and produce hydroelectricity throughout the continent.
Ethiopia is home to three of the ten biggest dams in Africa: GERD, Gilgel Gibe III, and Tekeze. The Grand Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia, formerly known as the Millennium Dam, has been under construction since 2011 and when finished will be the largest dam in Africa. The Gilgel Gibe III Dam is a roller-compacted concrete dam and hydroelectric power plant constructed on the Omo River, southwest of Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Abeba. The Tekezé Dam in Ethiopia is the tallest dam on the continent, standing 188 meters high.
The Aswan High Dam is the second-largest dam on the continent and is situated close to the city of the same name in southern Egypt. The Cahora Bassa Dam in Mozambique is the biggest hydropower facility in southern Africa and one of the two main dams on the Zambezi River. The Inga 1 (351 MW) and Inga II (1,424 MW) dams in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are made up of two single dams and are currently in operation at a combined capacity of 1,775 MW. The largest man-made dam in the world, the Kariba dam is situated between Zimbabwe and Zambia and measures 128 meters in height and 579 meters in length.
The Grand Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia, formerly known as the Millennium Dam, has been under construction since 2011 and when finished will be the largest dam in Africa. The dam, which is situated on the Blue Nile in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region close to Ethiopia’s border with Sudan, is expected to produce 6,450 MW annually.
One of the biggest on the continent, the reservoir began to fill in July 2020 and can hold 63 billion m2 of water. The dam will rank as the seventh largest hydroelectric power plant in the world once it begins producing power, which is anticipated to happen between June and August of 2021. The walls of the dam are 5,900 meters long and 145 meters tall.
The Aswan High Dam is the second largest dam on the continent and is situated close to the city of the same name in southern Egypt. The dam, which spans the Nile and is the largest embankment dam in the world, is 111 meters in height and 4,000 meters long. The dam’s total generation capacity is 2,100 MW, which it uses to power twelve generators at a rate of 175 MW each.
The Cahora Bassa Dam in Mozambique is the biggest hydropower facility in southern Africa and one of the two main dams on the Zambezi river. Five 415 MW turbines with a combined capacity of 2,070 MW are used to generate electricity. Through the Cahora Bassa high voltage direct current (HVDC) line system, which has two conversion stations situated in Songo, Mozambique, and Apollo, South Africa, the majority of the energy produced by the Cahora Bassa Dam is exported to South Africa.
The Gilgel Gibe III Dam is a hydroelectric power plant and roller-compacted concrete dam situated southwest of Addis Abeba, the capital of Ethiopia. The Gibe III power station is a component of a series of dams that also includes the 184 MW Gibe I dam and the 420 MW Gibe II power station. The Gibe IV and Gibe V dams, with respective capacities of 1,472 MW and 560 MW, are currently being considered for addition to the Gibe Cascade.
Future electricity produced by the plant, which is currently in the commissioning phase, is anticipated to export half of its capacity to Ethiopia (500 MW), the other half to Kenya (200 MW), Sudan (200 MW), and Djibouti (200 MW). Ethiopia has committed to obtaining 95% of its energy from hydropower as part of its current development plans.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has two single dams, the Inga 1 (351 MW) and Inga II (1,424 MW), that operate at a combined capacity of 1,775 MW at the moment. The hydroelectric dams were constructed on one of the biggest waterfalls in the world, the Inga Falls, and currently only operate at 50% of their potential.
The Grand Inga project, which is estimated to cost $80 billion and would create the largest power station in the world with a capacity of up to 70 GW, has attracted interest from countries and power companies all over Africa as a result of the dam’s expansion.
The largest man-made dam in the world, the Kariba dam is situated between Zimbabwe and Zambia and measures 128 meters in height and 579 meters in length. The dam is currently undergoing expansion in order to increase its yield; it currently has a total installed capacity of 1,626 MW. The dam’s north and south banks are home to power plants that produce electricity for both Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Merowe Dam in northern Sudan is the largest modern hydropower project in Africa by size, with a length of 7 km and a height of up to 67 m. The hydropower dam, which is located on the Nile, consists of 10 turbines, each of which can generate 125 MW, for a total of 1,250 MW.
The Tekezé Dam in Ethiopia is the tallest dam on the continent, standing 188 meters high. One of the largest public works projects in the nation, the $360 million dam is built on the Tekezé River, a tributary of the Nile. The powerhouse of the dam is made up of four 75 MW turbines that produce a combined 1,200 MW of electricity each.
The Akosombo Hydroelectric Dam in southeast Ghana receives its hydropower from Lake Volta, the largest man-made lake in the world with an area of 8,502km2. It is situated at the base of Lake Volta. The power plant, which was initially built to supply electricity for the nation’s aluminum industry, now has an installed capacity of 1,020 MW and provides electricity to Ghana, Togo, and Benin.
The Kainji Dam, constructed in Nigeria on the Niger River, supplies electricity to all of the major cities in this west African nation. Even though a dam with a 960 MW installed capacity was intended, only eight of the twelve proposed turbines have been installed, bringing the plant’s capacity down to 760 MW. One of the longest dams in the world is the 10 km long Kainji Dam.
Hydropower will be crucial in supplying Africa’s expanding energy needs, but it will be impacted by climate change. Numerous international energy agencies use a multimodel ensemble of 21 global climate models and two emissions scenarios to evaluate the future annual usable capacity and variability of supply for 87 existing hydropower plants in Africa.
They calculate the effects for the immediate future, the middle of the century, and the end of the century and evaluate the potential for connections within and between power pools to lessen changes in usable capacity and variability. They assess any potential synergies between each power pool’s hydropower, wind, and solar resources.
They discover that regional interconnection might help hydropower weather some of the effects of climate change. Furthermore, the loss of usable hydropower capacity may be partially offset by variable renewable energy, particularly solar energy. Our work advances knowledge of the effects of the climate on hydropower resources in Africa and potential avenues for risk mitigation.
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