Tanzania shutting down hydroelectric plants amidst ongoing drought

Falling reservoir levels are causing the Tanzania Electric Supply Company to shutter all of its hydroelectric power projects, sources in the east African country report.

According to the state-owned utility, the company’s hydropower plants typically supply about 35% of its cumulative power. Now, Tanesco said, the percentage has dipped to below 20% amidst a prolonged drought.

Tanzania’s government initiated a 10-year program called the Electricity Supply Industry Reform Strategy and Roadmap in 2013 that aimed to diversify the country’s generating fleet through the use of natural gas and coal. With coal facing significant opposition from environmental groups and four major natural gas plants still being completed, however, Tanzania has been left with a significant energy deficit.

Officials from Tanzania’s Ministry of Energy said that an increase in farming upstream from Tanesco’s generating reservoirs has also detracted from the availability of water.

Tanesco’s hydroelectric assets include the 204-MW Kidatu, 180-MW Kihansi, 80-MW Mtera and 68-MW Pangani.

HydroWorld.com reported in May that an Italian aid group was soliciting bids for a new hydro plant being developed under a European Union-funded project designed to increase rural access to power. Currently, only about a quarter of Tanzania’s population has electricity.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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