Angolan rains save Ruacana

15 March 2018 | Energy

The good rains received in the Lubango area of Angola over the past few weeks have rescued the power-generating activities at the Ruacana hydropower station in northern Namibia.

Ruacana, like many other parts of the north, has been experiencing low levels of rainfall that is not sufficient for power-generation.

NamPower managing director Simson Haulofu confirmed this to Namibian Sun, but quickly added that despite the drought in the area, Ruacana is currently generating - on average - 280MW continuously and is contributing approximately 45% of the country's energy demand.

This station was refurbished and the power-generation was increased effectively by 15MW, from 237 MW to 252MW, while improved turbine efficiency allows the station to generate more electricity during low flow seasons.

“The catchment area feeding the Kunene River includes and extends beyond the Lubango area in Angola and has received a good rainfall, which therefore boosted the operation of the Ruacana hydropower station with increased river flow in recent weeks, particularly during February,” Haulofu said.

He said the hydropower station is currently generating electricity continuously (day and night), with varied outputs, in line with the demand and river flow.

In recent years NamPower spent N$140 million on the refurbishment of power-generating units at Ruacana to increase output and supply in the country.

The three units were refurbished by Ruacana hydropower technicians.

The project started in 2014 as the first-ever refurbishment work for turbine units one, two and three, which started their operation in 1978 and were never serviced. They started with unit one in June 2014 and its operation was commissioned in December 2014, after five days of reliability testing.

In May 2015, they started with unit three whose operation was commissioned in September 2015.

The refurbishment of unit two started in November 2015 and its operation was commissioned on 24 July 2016 and while they were busy assembling it in April 2016 they experienced the first and only serious fault.

Haulofu said this was the biggest commissioning in the history of NamPower. He said after refurbishment, each unit increased power-generation by five megawatts (MW) and water discharge efficiency improved by 10%.

Other improvements include reduced cavitation, vortex flow and consequently vibration.

ILENI NANDJATO

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