Construction of KGL Power Station Nears Completion in Zambia
The 750-megawatt hydroelectric power station will be Zambia’s third largest hydropower plant.
The Kafue Gorge Lower Power Station (KGL) is a 750 megawatts hydroelectric power station under construction in Zambia. The site of the power plant is located on the Kafue River in the southern Chikankata district, 90 kilometres from Lusaka, the capital and Zambia's largest city.
The hydroelectric facility is being developed by the Zambia state-owned power company, ZESCO, who are the owner and implementing authority for the project.
The scope of work for the project includes the construction of a 139-metre-high concrete-face rockfill dam with a crest width between 8 and 10 metres and a length of 378 metres. A surface powerhouse with a width of 44.5 metres, a height of 58 metres, and a length of 127 metres will be housing five 150-megawatt generator units.
Construction works on the hydropower plant started in November 2015. In September 2019, construction of the dam and power station were halted due to financial difficulties. In July 2021, one of the five turbines (Turbine Number 2) was commercially commissioned to supply 150 megawatts to the Zambian national grid.
The Zambian President, Hakainde Hichilema, conducted a tour of the project on July 21, 2022.
On completion, the KGL power station will be the third largest hydropower station in the country. The project is being funded through a public-private partnership (PPP) model, and is Zambia’s first major investment under the PPP model.
The project is estimated to cost US$2 billion, which includes engineering, procurement, and construction costs of US$1.58 billion, financing at US$43 million, insurance at US$100 million, and capitalised interest at US$312 million.
The Zambian Government is reported to be funding 15% of the project costs, while the remaining 85% is being funded by the Exim Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.
The power station's dam also includes an environmental release outlet channel, a spillway on the left bank with a width of 64 metres, and a maximum discharge capacity of 6,210 cubic metres per second. The flood release tunnel on the right bank will have a maximum capacity of 1,018 cubic metres per second and a 4.4-kilometre-long power tunnel.
The dam’s floodgate will have five 400-metre-long penstocks. The main feature of the left bank will be a 980-metre-long diversion tunnel with a horse-shoe cross-section of 10 metres x 14 metres.
The generated electricity will be transmitted through a 330-volt switchyard with provision for two outgoing transmission lines, each going to a new and existing 330/132 kilovolt substation. There will also be a provision for a short interconnector to the existing Kafue Gorge Upper power station and five incoming feeder bays.
An engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract for the project was awarded to Sinohydro Corporation in October 2015. CPCS Transcom was appointed as the lead advisor for all transaction advisory services.
Norconsult, a Norwegian consulting engineering firm, is providing project management, design review and construction supervision services on the project.
The latest project update reports four of the five generators commissioned, with the fifth expected by the end of 2022.
Zambia was reported to have an installed electricity generating capacity of 2,800 megawatts as of 2017, of which 85% (2,380 megawatts) was generated through hydropower. 67% of the country's urban population and 4% of the rural population is reported to have access to electricity.
Existing hydropower stations in the country include the 1.08-gigawatts Kariba North Bank Power Station, 900-megawatts Kafue Gorge Upper Station, 108-megawatts Victoria Falls Power Station, 56-megawatts Lunsemfwa Hydro Power Stations, and the 120-megawatts Itezhi Tezhi Hydro Power Station.
On completion, the KGL power station is expected to meet Zambia’s power deficit and ensure a reliable and stable power supply in the country.
Photo: Construction works at the Kafue Lower Gorge Power Station (norconsult)