Kenya Electricity Generating Company Limited's (KenGen) Kiambere hydro power station upgrading project has begun contributing 12 megawatt (MW) to the national grid with one machine in commercial operation. The full upgrade of the station is set to inject up to 24 MW of the more affordable electricity. The output from Kiambere is expected to increase by between 20 MW and 24 MW from the current 144 MW at the end of this project. One unit was put in commercial operation on February 14, 2009.

The site erection and commissioning works for the second machine is expected to end in September 2009. Apart from the upgrading contracts, other works include new power cables and installation of a new main transformer.

The company is financing the upgradation through internal resources at a cost of KES972 million.

M/s Norplan Consultants are the project engineers while Voith Siemens Hydropower Generation, Inc. is undertaking the works.

KenGen said that the project employs technological advances in turbine and generator design introduced over the past 20 years to increase output and enhance the efficient use of water.

The project, at present, produces a third of the country’s hydro output, equivalent to 1,000 gigawatt hours. The project was commissioned in December 1987. It was the fifth station to be put up at the Seven Forks Hydropower Complex.

Two machines with capacities of 72 MW each located in a powerhouse at a depth of 150 m underground exist in the plant.

The first phase of the project included design and manufacturing followed by site erection and commissioning works.

“Design and manufacturing of the new equipment was completed at the end of 2007 and used advanced methods like computational fluid dynamics for turbine design and the revolutionary X-Blade runner,” KenGen said.