CAPTION: Karuma Falls on River Nile. The total project cost for the Karuma hydropower station is USD 1.7 billion and includes the generation and transmission components. Photo by Fredrick Mugira

Water Journalists Africa
May 15, 2018

As the 600MW Karuma Hydropower project edges towards completion, a crucial milestone is currently underway – the installation of hydro mechanical and electro-mechanical equipment. This set of equipment includes the turbine and associate parts like the bottom ring, head cover, wicket gate, turbine shaft, rotor and stator etc.

“We are currently assembling the rotor for the first turbine unit on site after successful hoisting of the bottom ring for the same unit last month,” says Deng Changhyi, Project Manager for the EPC contractor of the project Sinohydro Corporation of China. “This is a major stride towards the goal of ensuring that the first unit is ready for generation at the end of 2018,” he added.

The generator unit is composed of the turbine blades, shaft, rotor, stator, the turbine governor system, ventilation and cooling system and generator auxiliary system. The generation of electricity from this system is a cascading combination of energy changes from water’s kinetic energy that moves the turbine and all the other moving parts, creating an electromagnetic field from which current is produced and conducted away to the transformers, hence electricity.

The Equip for this project is being manufactured offshore in China by reputable international turbine manufacturers such as General Electric-Alstom. “We are mandated to carry out factor acceptance tests on all this equipment, grant delivery permission, arrival acceptance and subject the equipment to detailed assembly programs,” said Mr. Deng, adding that, “This is done not just by we the contractors but by all the parties on site namely the Client Ministry of Energy, the government implementing agency UEGCL and the Owner’s Engineer.”

This exercise is meant to strictly enforce quality control from the unit design, manufacturing, testing, commodity inspection, export packaging, transportation, technical data, on-site technical training and technical guidance services to the installation, debugging, operation of the unit, ensure that all link works are controllable and have excellent quality.

The Karuma hydropower project has an underground powerhouse, which shall receive water to move the turbines through a mosaic of tunnels and ducts, making it the first of its kind in Africa. Currently, there is a total 26.5 km of underground tunneling and other civil works. Civil works on the dam and water intake sections is almost complete with the installation of radial flood control gates recently completed.

Once complete, each of the six turbine units shall have an installed capacity of 100MW bringing the today installed capacity of the dam project at 600MW. After commissioning of the Karuma project, generation capacity of Uganda will be almost doubled. Currently installed capacity is estimated at 890MW.

The total project cost for the Karuma hydropower station is USD 1.7 billion and includes the generation and transmission components. The project shall have three major transmission lines evacuating the power produced. These are the 400 KV Karuma-Kawanda line that is 248km long; 400 KV Karuma Olwiyo 55 Km long and the 132 KV Karuma-Lira 75km. it will also create three new substations, at Karuma, Kawanda and Olwiyo while the power on the Lira transmission line shall terminate at the already existing Lira substation.

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