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Angola: Big-ticket HEPs


10 Aug 2017

A major investment in hydroelectric power (HEP) plants promises to improve levels of energy access in a country with disconnected regional grids and a spotty record of project delivery. The government has set out an energy policy to 2025 that promises many more projects to come into service. These include the $4.3bn Laúca dam, which after four years of work celebrated the start-up of the first of six 334MW turbines on 4 August. State-funded Laúca’s remaining five turbines should come into operation in 2018, official reports said.

Initial figures from the new African Energy Live Data show a total of 185 generation projects either operating or in the pipeline. Live Data records 84 operating projects with installed capacity of 4,646.7MW. Of these, 16 HEP projects have combined 2,052MW installed capacity. There is 619.2MW of open-cycle gas turbine (OCGT) capacity from six projects and 750MW from the Soyo Gas I combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT). There are no operating solar or wind plants, but 120MW of installed biomass capacity. Live Data also records some 50 diesel-fired plants with a total of 910MW and six other thermal units (106.6MW); the database does not routinely include small-scale diesel.

Provisional Live Data for Angola show 11 projects with 4,433.1MW total installed capacity in the construction phase. This follows the 4 August ceremony in Dondo, Kwanza Norte province, marking a construction start for the $4.5bn, 2,172MW Caculo Cabaça dam project by China Gezhouba Group Company (CGGC). That project is scheduled for completion by October 2024. Marking a change from the practice of importing unskilled Chinese labour, CGGC says that during the peak construction period nearly 10,000 jobs are expected to go to local employees. CGGC will also be responsible for the initial four-year operation and maintenance of the power plant, and for training its eventual Angolan operational management and technical personnel.

Other projects to enter the construction phase include the 100MW Tômbwa wind scheme, two small hydro units totalling 43.5MW and the 26MW Cutato biomass plant. Four diesel-fired units should add 423MW and the Malembo GTC II OCGT plant 100MW when it comes on line (estimated for 2018).

Ambitious schemes like Caculo Cabaça are in line with the authorities’ often stated determination to significantly upgrade the electricity supply industry; this is reflected in Live Data’s project pipeline, which shows 92 planned schemes with 8,040.6MW installed capacity, of which 41 HEPs would add 5,574.3MW. Caculo Cabaça is intended to reinforce the Kwanza/Huambo network, whose transmission line is scheduled to be extended to Lubango and Tchamutete in Huíla province; the authorities say this work will be completed in 2022 “if there are no unforeseen constraints”.

Other projects making progress include the 700MW Cambambe II scheme, which comprises four Francis-type Voith turbines with an initial capacity of 175MW each. Unit 1 started operating in June 2016 and Unit 2 in August; the full 700MW capacity was reached in December 2016. As well as construction of the 2,073MW Laúca and 2,172MW Caculo Cabaça schemes, other important planned HEPs further down the schedule include Jamba-Ya-Mina (230MW), Jamba-Ya-Oma (78.75MW), Zenzo I (450MW) and Zenzo II (120MW).

The Live Data listing also points to a new appreciation of renewables, with the 12MW Privinvest-Prodel Hydrokinetic project, 23 planned solar schemes (which would provide a total 324MW), ten wind (552MW) and the 115MW Biocom expansion scheme adding to biomass. Nine projects are listed as hydrothermal (450MW). The Angola Energia 2025 document lists 24 planned solar projects, including the 30MW Baia dos Tigres solar PV and wind hybrid project in Namibe province and the 100MW off-grid Dombe Grande solar PV project in Benguela province.

The potential for growth is shown by the only operating biomass plant, Companhia de Bioenergia de Angola (Biocom Ethanol), which has been developed as one of Angola’s first public-private partnerships (PPPs), involving the government via Agência Nacional para o Investimento Privado and a private consortium of Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht, the local Cochan and Sonangol Holdings (AE 302/12). One of Angola’s largest agro-industrial projects, it was the first to produce biomass-derived ethanol and electricity when it started generating 10MW in 2014 under a 20-year power purchase agreement with the government. A $298m state guarantee was approved in October 2014 for an expansion project, whose first phase should increase capacity to 120MW. According to Spain’s Himoinsa, which supplied generators to Biocom, phase two will increase capacity to 235MW in 2019.

Meanwhile, ambitions to use more gas are reflected in the two CCGT (to add 450MW) and four other gas-fired projects (514.6MW) included in the project pipeline.