Gilgel Gibe II Power Station

The Gilgel Gibe II Power Station is a hydroelectric power station on the Omo River in Ethiopia. It is located about 80 km (50 mi) east of Jimma in Wolaita/Dawro Region. The power station receives water from a tunnel entrance 7°55′27″N 37°23′16″E / 7.92417°N 37.38778°E / 7.92417; 37.38778 (Gilgel Gibe II Power Station headrace tunnel entrance) on the Gilgel Gibe River. It has an installed capacity of 420 MW and was inaugurated on January 14, 2010. Almost two weeks after inauguration, a portion of the head race tunnel collapsed causing the station to shut down. Repairs were completed on December 26, 2010.

Gilgel Gibe II Power Station
LocationJimma, Oromia Region
Coordinates7°45′25″N 37°33′44″E / 7.75694°N 37.56222°E / 7.75694; 37.56222Coordinates: 7°45′25″N 37°33′44″E / 7.75694°N 37.56222°E / 7.75694; 37.56222
Owner(s)Ethiopian Electric Power
Thermal power station
Turbine technologyHydroelectric
Power generation
Units operational4 x Pelton-type
Nameplate capacity420 MW
Annual net output1635 GWh Est.


The Gilgel Gibe II consists of a power station on the Omo River that is fed with water from a headrace tunnel and sluice gate on the Gilgel Gibe River. The headrace tunnel runs 26 km (16 mi) under the Fofa Mountain and at its end, it converts into a penstock with a 500 m (1,600 ft) drop.[1] When the water reaches the power station, it powers four Pelton turbines that operate four 107 MW generators. Each turbine is 3.5 m (11 ft) in diameter.[2]


Construction on the power plant began on March 19, 2005, with Salini Costruttori as the main contractor.[1] The power station was originally slated to be complete in late 2007 but was delayed because engineering problems encountered during construction. In March 2005, the contract to excavate the tunnel was awarded to SELI and in October 2006, a tunnel boring machine (TBM) hit a fault, delaying the project. On June 9, 2009, both TBMs met each other and the tunnel was ready for hydraulic testing that September. The tunnel is "considered one of the most difficult tunnel projects ever undertaken, due to the critical, and in some reaches, exceptionally adverse, ground conditions."[3] The power station was inaugurated on January 14, 2010.[4]

Tunnel collapse and repairEdit

About ten days after the project was completed, about 15 m (49 ft) of the 26 km (16 mi) headrace tunnel collapsed. The collapse may have been attributed it to structural failure caused by expedited construction and a lack of proper studies.[5] The official statement of the construction firm Salini Costruttori, released two weeks after the official inauguration was that "an unforeseen geological event provoked a 'cave in' and a huge rock fall involving about 15m of the 26km headrace tunnel."[6][7] The tunnel was repaired and the station operational again on December 26, 2010.[8]


In 2004, the Government of Ethiopia secured €220 million from the Government of Italy for construction. The total cost of construction is €373 million with €50 million provided by the European Investment Bank, and the remaining €103 million from the Ethiopian Government.[1]


The financing of the power plant was controversial within the Italian government. It was granted despite objections raised by the Directorate General for Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economy and Finance. They argued against the loan because the contract was awarded without competitive bidding in breach of Italian law, because its unusually large size meant that less funding was available for other development projects, no costs for environmental impact assessment of monitoring were included, the project was not commercially viable due to low electricity tariffs in Ethiopia and because it was inappropriate to burden such a poor country with more debt at a time when it had just received debt relief from Italy. There were also parliamentary questions concerning the project which were left unanswered by the Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Luigi Mantica. In March 2006 the Prosecutors’ Office in Rome instigated criminal proceedings concerning the Gilgel Gibe II hydroelectric project.[9]

See alsoEdit


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  1. ^ a b c "Gilgel-Gibe II Hydroelectric Project". Italian Development Cooperation. Archived from the original on 20 March 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  2. ^ "Pelton turbine design of Gilgel Gibe II" (PDF). Voith Siemens. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  3. ^ "Collapse of headrace tunnel after grand opening". Tunnel Talk. February 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  4. ^ "Ethiopia: Did the rush to complete Gilgel Gibe II for the election result in its collapse?". Gadaa. February 15, 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  5. ^ International Rivers: Ethiopian Dam Suffers Tunnel Collapse Days After Inauguration Archived 2010-12-27 at the Wayback Machine Published 5 February 2010. Accessed 13 June 2010.
  6. ^ Tunnel Talk Collapse of Headrace Tunnel After Grand Opening Published February 2010. Accessed 13 June 2010.
  7. ^ "Ethiopia to Export Power to Sudan Beginning October". Ethiopian Journal. September 9, 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  8. ^ "Gilgel Gibe II resumes operation". ERTA News. 28 December 2010. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  9. ^ "The Gilgel Gibe Affair: An analysis of the Gilbel Gibe hydroelectric projects in Ethiopia" (PDF). CRBM - Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondial / CEE Bankwatch Networ. 2008. pp. 14–15. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 April 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2011.