Gibe III Hydroelectric Project (1870 MW)
Contract signed: 2006
Client: Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP)
Value: € 1.47 billion
Today, Gibe III has become reality. The hydroelectric plant has started functioning. It has taken many years of work, but what was just one of the largest worksites in Ethiopia has now come to life. Gibe III represents the third stage of an ambitious energy development project that was inaugurated in 1999, when works for constructing Gibe I started, the first dam on the Omo River.
Gibe I was completed in 2004. In the same year, works to build Gibe II started (the dam was completed in 2009).
The last dam is the evolution of a project that aims at using the hydroelectric potential of the valley, by building a series of hydroelectric plants capable of producing renewable energy and of fulfilling Ethiopia's development needs. Gibe III, the most powerful hydroelectric plant of the three, is capable of producing 6,500 Gwh of electricity each year, avoiding 4.5 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. It therefore offers an effective answer to these needs.
Its construction required the allocation of €1,470 million, funded by Ethiopian Electric Power and by China’s "Exim Bank".
The project is located on the Omo River, approximately 300 Km south-west of Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa. It comprises an RCC dam and an open-air powerhouse with 10 Francis turbines that offers an overall installed power of 1,870 MW. The project also included 3 diversion tunnels and 2 twin pumping tunnels, 2 intake structures, 2 horizontal tunnels, 4 vertical wells and 2 distributors.
The dam measures 250 m in height. At the moment, it is the world's highest RCC dam. It is also located in a remote area, with unique logistical and technical challenges.
Concrete (RCC) laying activities began in 2011. The dam's pre-impounding operations were carried out in August 2014, while the final impounding phase was completed during the first months of 2015.
Gibe III represents an engineering reference point at a global level. This is due to the technical characteristics that distinguish the project and to the number of workers: 8,000 people, the vast majority of Ethiopian origin, were present at the worksite during peak occupational periods.
Many challenges were met during these years. These contributed to setting new work and production records, responding positively to a tight-scheduled work programme.
An RCC-laying World Record was set between December 11 and 12, 2014. In just 24 hours, the continuous maximum production volume equalled 18,519 m3. By June 2015, six million cubic meters of RCC had already been laid and one billion cubic meters of water had collected in the reservoir formed by the dam.
In 2015 alone, the work carried out by Salini Impregilo as part of the Gibe III project contributed to the growth of the country, accounting for 0.4% of GDP and income distributed to households, 0.28% of tax revenue and 0.13% in terms of total employment.