Uganda faces power cuts after major hydropower plant suspends operations

PUBLISHED: Tue, 16 Aug 2022 16:38:40 GMT
Elias Biryabarema
tTIHANGE, BELGIUM – AUGUST 10: Electricity pylon is seen near from the Tihange Nuclear Power Station on August 10, 2022, in Tihange, Belgium. As the European Union prepares for the drastic reduction of Russian gas imports, some users are concerned about the risk of heating and electricity cuts next winter. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

KAMPALA, Aug 16 (Reuters) – Uganda said on Tuesday a hydropower plant representing some 15% of its electricity generating capacity had been put under an emergency shutdown due to “operational challenges”, cutting the supply of power to the country’s grid.

Authorities will now implement a series of measures including power cuts – known as load shedding – to minimise demand on the grid to match the reduced supply, a statement from the energy ministry said.

Measures to restore operations were already being undertaken, but the plant was not expected to restart for another three weeks, it added.

The state-run Isimba hydropower dam on the River Nile, which has generating capacity of 183 megawatts, was constructed by a Chinese contractor with a loan secured from China’s Exim bank, and was commissioned in 2019.

“The shutdown was due to operational challenges that led the flow of water into the power house,” the ministry said in the statement. It said the shutdown was to protect staff and prevent damage to critical equipment.

Uganda has total generating capacity of about 1,200 megawatts, mostly from hydropower plants built along the Nile river.

Another large dam, Karuma, being built by China’s Synohydro on the Nile is expected to be commissioned later this year and will generate 600 megawatts.

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