Plan to export Karuma excess power on

Wednesday June 22 2016

Engineers inspecting the works at the Karuma

Engineers inspecting the works at the Karuma Hydro Power Dam recently. PHOTO BY STEPHEN OTAGE.  



Uganda will export some power to be generated by the Karuma Hydro Power Plant (HPP) to neighbouring countries.
This is according to a May 2016 application by the Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited’s for a power generation licence for Karuma HPP.
The application does not specify to which countries the power might be exported.
However, although Kenya Power last year cut by 50 per cent its electricity imports from Uganda since its generation capacity had increased, Kenya could be one of the markets.
Uganda and Kenya are constructing a high voltage transmission line between Tororo and Lessos in Nandi, Kenya to complement the lines that connect them through Busia and Malaba.
The other potential markets for Uganda’s power are DR Congo, Tanzania and Rwanda.
“The power generated will be taken through a 400–kilovolt switchyard to the nearest proposed pooling station for onward transmission to energy deficient regions [in Uganda],” reads the application.
“When complete, the Karuma power station will generate 600MW of power that will be distributed locally and exported to neighbouring countries.”
According to official projections, the Shs5.6 trillion Karuma HPP will be commissioned in 2018.
The 183MW Isimba HPP will be commissioned one year before Karuma HPP.
During the State-of-the-Nation address last month, President Museveni said currently 100MW of the power generated in the country is not being utilised.
He urged Uganda’s commercial and industrial consumers to carry out their operations at night to utilise the excess supply.
Ms Ziria Tibalwa, the director of technical regulation at the Electricity Regulatory Authority, said exporting excess power would make business sense.
“Most of the contracts we have with the power generators are for capacity payments, meaning once the plant is declared available, if you can’t off take for any reason you still have to pay for the full capacity. So if you have the opportunity to export some, then it improves your finances because you are operating your plants higher,” Ms Tibalwa said during the annual tariff review applications by the different electricity companies last December.

Power capacity

Between now and 2017, up to 17 small renewable energy projects promoted under the Global Energy Transfer Feed in Tariff programme are expected to add 160MW to the national grid. When all these are commissioned over the next two years, Uganda’s installed electricity generation capacity will increase from 852MW to 1,795MW. According to energy officials, suppressed demand increases by 50MW annually.