Erection of the turbine generating units at Kukuleganga hydro power project in Sri Lanka has commenced, in preparation for commissioning of the 70MW plant in late 2003.

Located about 90km south-east of Colombo, the plant harnesses the Kukule river, a main tributary of the Kalu river, second largest river in Sri Lanka. The run-of-river type Kukuleganga will be the second underground power plant in the Sri Lanka’s hydro dominated power system. The Japan Bank of International Cooperation is funding the estimated project cost of US$212M.

The key elements of the project are

• 16m high, 110m long concrete diversion weir equipped with 4 radial gates.

• 7.5 km long, 5.6m/6.4 m diameter water way system including a 220 m deep, 7.5m/4.8m diameter vertical pressure and surge shaft.

• 52m x 16m x 32m underground cavern housing two 35MW turbine/generator units, along with the 8m x 9m x 31m transformer cavern for two 46MVA transformers.

• 27km long double circuit 132 kV overhead line connecting Kukule to the country’s national grid.

• Infrastructure facilities including two 9.0 km long access roads providing access to the head and tail end of the project and residential camping facilities.

The whole project work is divided among eight contract lots and the main civil works of the project started in July 1999 followed by the other contract Lots subsequently. Excavation of the tunnels was completed in March 2002 and the tunnel invert concreting and lining at identified sections are in progress. The most parts of the 5.7km long headrace and the 1.6m long tailrace tunnels will be left unlined as planned, taking advantage of the excellent rock conditions prevailing in the project precincts.

Excavation of the two underground caverns and first stage concreting has been completed.

At the headworks end, construction works of the diversion weir under river diversion phase 1 is nearly completed. The balance works of the weir site will be completed under river diversion phase 2, which commenced late August 2002. Under diversion phase 2, the river will be diverted over the already completed part of the weir structure.

On completion of installations and erection works, the plant is scheduled for carrying out dry and wet tests towards the later part of next year, with expected full commercial operation by the end of 2003.

Once completed Kukule will add a 317GWh of energy annually to the countries power system, which has been facing with a serious power and energy shortage for several years.