Regional Interconnection Backbone

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The Nile Basin Initiative promotes regional transmission interconnection projects in partnership with the Eastern Africa Power Pool. Such interconnection projects allow utilities to share reserve margins across a wider operating area, thus reducing the need for installed capacity to meet reserve requirements. Regional interconnection becomes even more important as the penetration of variable renewable energy grows. As example, the 500 kV HVDC Eastern Electricity Highway Project under the First Phase of the Eastern Africa Power Integration Program will allow Kenya to purchase relatively cheaper hydropower energy from Ethiopia and support Ethiopia’s system when water is scarce.

Electricity Consumption

Electricity demand in much of the Nile Basin is constrained by available supply, resulting in people either not having any access or not being able to consume as much as they would like. Such unmet demand is not captured in electricity data and makes it difficult to measure electricity demand in a holistic sense.

Except Egypt, the Nile Basin member states all have a per capita electricity consumption which is lower than the initial threshold level of electricity consumption for rural households (250 kilowatt-hours per year). Investments are required in hydropower and transmission interconnectors, to raise the threshold to at 500 kWh per year (recommended for urban households).

Cost of Electrical Outages

Today, unreliable power services mean that businesses and factories are frequently interrupted, reducing profits and requiring an array of back-up sources. These often come in the form of diesel generators, which are polluting and require costly fuel inputs. The economic costs of power outages are substantial in the Nile basin partner states.

The immediate economic cost of power shortages can be gauged by looking at the cost of running backup generators and forgoing production during power shortages. As an example, the use of backup generators as a hedge against unreliable supply is estimated to cost the East African Economies of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, 2 %, 5% and 4% of GDP each year (AICD, 2012). Through Interconnectors, the distributed nature of renewable power generation can also help to alleviate the problem of power service unreliability.

Electricity Trade

Today, unreliable power services mean that businesses and factories are frequently interrupted, reducing profits and requiring an array of back-up sources. These often come in the form of diesel generators, which are polluting and require costly fuel inputs. The economic costs of power outages are substantial in the Nile basin partner states.

The immediate economic cost of power shortages can be gauged by looking at the cost of running backup generators and forgoing production during power shortages. As an example, the use of backup generators as a hedge against unreliable supply is estimated to cost the East African Economies of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, 2 %, 5% and 4% of GDP each year (AICD, 2012). Through Interconnectors, the distributed nature of renewable power generation can also help to alleviate the problem of power service unreliability.

Eastern Nile Power Export Project

Eastern Nile Power Export Project The Ethiopia Power Export Project (formerly called the Ethiopia-Sudan Interconnection Project) connects the power grids of Ethiopia and Sudan and facilitates cross-border energy trade and optimizes existing and planned generation capacity. This is needed in order to overcome the severe electricity shortage in both countries, which is a major constraint to poverty reduction and economic growth. It is considered a first step toward greater regional power trade. Other Interconnectors promoted by the NBI include:

  • Ethiopia and Kenya 500 kV HVDC interconnection transfer capacity 3.200 MW
  • Ethiopia to Djibouti 220 kV (282km) interconnection
  • Ethiopia to Sudan 230 kV transmission line (335 km) from Gambela in Ethiopia to Malakal in South Sudan
  • Ethiopia – Kenya 500 kV HVAC (1045km)
Nile Equatorial Lakes Power Export Project

Ethiopia has plans to increase electricity exports to Eastern Africa, based on new hydropower generation, and construction is underway to boost interconnections with Kenya. Rwanda –Burundi and eastern DRC. The present facilitated investments are expected to add more than 4600 circuit kilometers of new transmission lines at various voltage levels in the partner states of Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, South Sudan, and Djibouti (outside NBI). The regional transmission network backbone for Victoria Lake countries includes:

  • Kenya (400kV) – Uganda (220 kV) interconnections (260.5km)
  • Uganda – DR Congo 220 kV interconnection (352km)
  • Uganda – Rwanda 220 kV interconnection (164km)
  • Rwanda – Burundi-DRC 220 kV interconnection (400km)
  • Kenya – Tanzania 400 kV interconnection (507.5km)
  • Tanzania (Iringa-Mbeya)- Zambia (Kabwe) 400kV Interconnector to SAPP (1247km)

Longer-term NBI ambitions for significant electricity trade are predicated on developing the substantial hydropower resources of the DR Congo (particularly Inga with 40,000 MW of potential in a single site) and of Ethiopia and Sudan.

REGIONAL POWER TRANSMISSION IN THE NILE BASIN

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