Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali started up the first turbine of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Sunday 20 February 2022, the large dam in roller compacted concrete (RCC) being built by Webuild on the Abay River in the western region of Benishangul-Gumuz in Ethiopia.

Once completed, the GERD will be the biggest hydropower dam in Africa and will support the country’s economic development, helping to reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025 with the huge production of electricity from renewable sources, says Webuild.

  1. Fully funded by Ethiopians, the new dam will ensure Ethiopia’s energy independence while exporting more than $800 million worth of electricity annually to neighboring countries of Djibouti, Kenya, and Sudan.
  2. More than supplying electric power to Ethiopia and neighboring countries, the dam can also regulate the ecosystem of the region as well as help in controlling floods in the lower basin states. Once completed, the massive dam will avoid the emissions of more than two million tonnes of CO2 a year.
  3. GERD, as a renewable and clean energy mechanism, will put Ethiopia as a major contributing nation to global carbon mitigation efforts. Also, the dam is expected to decrease the volume of annual water loss by evaporation, which is about 13 billion cubic meters of water.
  4. The dam will be capable of handling a flood of 19,370 cubic metres per second, will reduce alluvium in Sudan by 100 million cubic metres and facilitate irrigation of around 500,000ha of new agricultural lands. It will also reduce approximately 40km of flooding in Sudan, upon its completion.
  5. On January 2022, Project Mano predicted that Ethiopia’s bitcoin mining has a potential to earn $2 billion to $3 billion annually at $25,000 BTC prices, based on GERD energy-generating potential, or more like $4.5 billion to $5 billion at the time BTC prices.
  6. According to the government, the project will cost $5 billion when completed and will be Africa’s largest hydroelectric plant.
  7. Water evaporation from Aswan High Dam, as well as other dams in Ethiopia, equates to around 19 billion cubic metres. Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will reduce the capacity of the Aswan High Dam, therefore saving about six billion cubic metres of water.
  8. It is being built by approximately 10,000 people on a yearly average.
  9. “Located approximately 700 kilometers northwest of the capital Addis Abeba, the project includes the design and construction of an RCC dam, a saddle dam and two power stations installed downstream at the foot of the dam on opposite shores. The main RCC dam will be 1,800 metres long and 170 metres high. It will create a reservoir covering 1,875 square kilometres and contain 74 billion cubic metres of water. The rockfill saddle dam will have a volume of 15.3 million cum and crest length of 5000 km.” WeBuild
  10. The site of the dam was identified when the US Bureau of Reclamation first made a survey of the Blue Nile River between 1956 to 1964. Two site surveys were also carried out in October 2009 and between July-August 2010, with the design being submitted in November 2010.
  11. The dam is equipped with 13 turbines that can generate 5,150 MW of energy. Currently, the dam reached 84 percent of completion and expected to be fully completed in 2024.
  12. The reservoir’s total capacity is 74 billion cubic metres. The process of filling the vast reservoir began in 2020, had hit its target of 4.9 billion cubic metres in July 2020. Adding 13.5 billion cubic metres, in July 2021.

According to officials, the second turbine, with a capacity of 375 MW, will begin generating power in the following three months.

Source: Various Publicly Available Publication and Articles Found on the Internet

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