Kenya’s largest single hydroelectric power unit at the Gitaru underground power station has just entered commercial operation. The 80MW vertical Francis turbine/generator was installed with help from Mott MacDonald on a fast-track programme just 23 months after the contract was awarded to German consortium Siemens-Voith in December 1997.

The addition of this third unit to the Gitaru station, which was originally built in 1978 comprising two 72.5MW units, increases station capacity to 225MW and will provide the Kenya Electricity Generating Company with year-round peaking power and operational flexibility. Mott MacDonald’s role as engineering consultant, along with subconsultant Knight-Piésold, involved overseeing all civil works plus the installation of the generating unit and ancillary equipment, including one 95MVA 15/220kV transformer, 9km of single circuit 220kV transmission line and extensions to the existing Gitaru and Kamburu switchyards.

Commenting on the success of the scheme Mott Mac-Donald’s project manager Andrew Webb said that installation of the 80MW unit at Gitaru in such a short period of time is a very significant achievement. ‘We’d normally be looking at a 30-month timescale at least but everyone’s commitment to the fast-track programme — client, consultant and contractor together — has meant that we’ve been able to complete the project successfully.’