The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development has commissioned Australia-based SMEC to provide analysis and design services and construction supervision for a hydro power development in a remote part of Mongolia.

The 11MW Taishir hydro power project is located on the Zabkhan river in the western area of Mongolia at the border of Gobi Altai and Zabkhan provinces. Feasibility studies conducted in 1998 concluded that the project was technically feasible and economically viable. SMEC has now been engaged to conduct additional site investigations, prepare a detailed design and supervise construction. Transfer of expertise in all aspects of the project to the state-owned Energy Authority is central to SMEC’s role.

The power system in Mongolia was developed during the period of Soviet influence and is based largely on coal-fired power stations. Remote regions are beyond the national grid and dependent on local power sources. The needs of the Taishir project region are currently met by diesel generators. However, due to lack of funds, shortage of spare parts and inadequate maintenance the local system can no longer meet peak load demand. In addition, the existing generators will need to be decommissioned in the next few years.

The Taishir project will provide renewable and low cost electricity to the provincial capital of Altai (with a population of 20,000) and the surrounding districts on a long-term basis. The project includes 340km of transmission lines for distribution of the power.