Kidatu. Major rehabilitation of a 51MW power turbine, which broke down a few weeks ago at the Kidatu Hydropower station is close to completion with tests expected to begin next week.
Kidatu Station manager Anthony Mbushi told reporters at the site last week that the machine has been rehabilitated by four technicians from a Croatian company, which manufactured and installed the turbine in the 1970s in collaboration with engineers from the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (Tanesco).
The turbine, which broke down in October, affected the national grid and left customers in many regions experiencing power outages.
“After the turbine broke down we decided to conduct a major repair of the turbine,” he said.
For his part, the coordinator of the team that is fixing up the turbine, Engineer Rajab Kindunda said after completion of the ongoing work, it would run for the next 20 years without major repairs.
“The last time the four turbines at Kidatu underwent repairs was in 2000. This means that in 2020, we should have conducted checks on whether the machines need repairs. However, this is not to say that we will not assess them in 2020,” he said.
He said repairing the turbine has cost Sh1.5 billion.
Each of the four turbines at Kidatu produces 51MW, thus making the station a major hydropower producer in the country with the capacity of 204MW.
According to control room operator, Eng Nicomed Mhina, the remaining three machines have been running smoothly. “We have not encountered any problem with the remaining machines,” he said. Meanwhile, preparations for a major service of the Hale Hydropower Station in Pangani District are in top gear.
The Pangani Hydro systems manager, Eng Mahenda Stephen Mahenda told journalists who visited the facility recently that the rehabilitation will be financed by Sweden through its development agency – Sida.
“Feasibility studies have been conducted twice, first in 2007 and the second was carried out in 2010,” he said, noting that following the studies, Sweden agreed to finance the exercise.
Eng Mahenda said they have already picked the Consulting Contractor with whom they are working together to finalise the preparations.
He said they have already conducted pre-qualification of contractors interested in the work and that they will finalise bidding documents in a few weeks to enable them to bid for the work.
According to Eng Mahenda, the work at Hale Power Station targets an overhaul of the entire systems and make it modern.
“The machines, which are running at the station currently were installed in 1964… they are very old and it is very difficult to get their spare parts if it happens they break down. Even the company which manufactured the turbines has stopped manufacturing such types of turbines,” he said.
Hale has capacity to produce 21MW of electricity, but currently only one machine is in operation an it produces 4MW only. The other turbine has been grounded because of technical problems.
Eng Mahenda said the rehabilitation work will also involve construction of a tunnel to the underground station where the turbines have been installed.
Currently, the turbines station can be accessed through a 70 metre deep shaft saved with a lift, which can accommodate only four people at a time.
“We are going to construct a big tunnel to enable people to go underground with cars,” he said.