Rehab of Liberia’s 64-MW Mount Coffee hydropower plant nearing completion

The rehabilitation of Liberia’s 64-MW Mount Coffee hydroelectric plant reached a milestone this week with filling of the project’s reservoir now complete.

Officials from the Liberia Electricity Corp. reported that the dam’s spillway gates were lowered earlier this month, and since, water levels have risen to within a meter of the plant’s maximum operating height at 28 meters above sea level.

With the reservoir now near capacity for the first time in decades, LEC said it expects Mount Coffee’s first turbine to be commissioned in December.

The project, on the St. Paul River 27 kilometers northeast of Monrovia, was destroyed during a period of civil war in the early 1990s. The original powerhouse contained four turbine-generator units, two with a capacity of 15 MW that began operating in 1966 and two with a capacity of 17 MW that began operating in 1973.

The cost to make the needed repairs and upgrades to bring the facility back on line had been estimated at abour US$230 million. The government has received funding from various donors, including the European Investment Bank and European Central Bank, to help finance the work.

The Liberian government originally planned for the rehabilitation to be completed by the end of 2015, though work suspensions due to the country’s Ebola epidemic have stalled progress.

Voith Hydro is modernizing the plant’s Francis turbines and delivering new generators, control technology, and electrical and mechanical power plant equipment.

U.K.-based Dawnus International Ltd. was responsible for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the project’s main dam, powerhouse, spillway, intake and other infrastructure and road works.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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