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Nov 02, 2010

Zambia firm seeks EPC contractors for hydropower project

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Independent electricity utility Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) has called on engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors to show their interest in building the 40-MW Kabompo Gorge hydroelectric scheme, in Zambia.

The power company, which supplies electricity to mines in the Copperbelt Province of Zambia, has previously indicated that it plans to spend about $120-million on developing the hydropower project by 2015.

CEC this week called on EPC contractors or turnkey construction providers to submit expressions of interest to participate in the project, by November 19.

It anticipated issuing invitations for bids by March 2011.

In October, CEC corporate development MD Michael Tarney said that the company plans to start construction on the project within the next two years.

The company’s current demand from customers amounted to 450 MW, but this could increase to between 750 MW and 800 MW by 2012, as the copper-mining industry in the country continues to grow.

CEC, which is also involved with the transmission of power on behalf of Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (Zesco) and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s SNEL electricity utility, has indicated that the Kabompo Gorge project would provide additional power supplies for the mining industry, but that it could also assist in stabilising the electricity on Zambia's main power grid.

The Southern African country has an installed capacity of about 1 800 MW, with the majority of power being generated through hydropower schemes.

The largest contribution comes from Zesco’s 900-MW Kafue Gorge power station, followed by the Kariba North Bank power station, which has an installed capacity of 720 MW.

However, power supplies in the country were expected to be tight in 2012, before new generation capacity is brought on line between 2013 and 2015.

Zesco was currently expanding the Kariba North Bank power station by an additional 360 MW at a cost of $430-million.

China’s Sinohydro started the construction of the plant in November 2008. The project was expected to be completed by December 2012.

Besides the Kariba North extension project, Zesco was also working on implementing the $275-million 120-MW Itezhi Tezhi hydropower station, which was expected to be completed by 2013.

In August, Zambia Ministry of Energy and Water Development office for promoting private power investment manager Israel Phiri said that the country expected construction on the Kafue Gorge Lower hydropower project, in Zambia, to start in June 2011.

At current projections, the project would initially deliver 600 MW of power generation, but would have a design capacity of 750 MW. It would require an investment of between $1,5-billion and $1,8-billion to develop the project.

Edited by: Mariaan Webb
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