Consortium awarded electro-mechanical contract for Nachtigal, Cameroon

A consortium led by GE Renewable Energy with Spain’s Elecnor has been awarded a contract worth a combined US$ 157 million for the supply, installation and commissioning of the electro-mechanical equipment for 420 MW Nachtigal hydropower plant on the river Sanaga in central Cameroon.

GE Renewable Energy announced on 26 February that it is to supply seven 60 MW Francis turbines under a contract worth US$ 87 million, while the US based engineering group’s hydro division will be responsible for the coordination of the project, including the design, the manufacturing, the erection supervision and the commissioning of the turbines and generators, the control system and the mechanical Balance of Plant. The contract will be managed by GE Renewable Energy’s Centers of Excellence located in Belfort (France) and Tianjin (China). Elecnor will manufacture, install and commission seven generators, the evacuation substation and the auxiliary systems, under a contract valued at US$ 70 million. It will also manage the powerhouse finishing works as well as the erection on site, according to a separate statement issued on 26 February.

The Nachtigal Amont (upstream) scheme, which will cost an estimated US$ 1.44 billion, is being developed on a build, own, operate and transfer basis under a 35-year concession by Nachtigal Hydro Power Company (NHPC), whose shareholders are EDF international (40 per cent), the IFC (20 per cent), the Government of Cameroon (15 per cent), Africa50 (15 per cent) and Stoa (10 per cent). A consortium of Belgium’s NV Besix, French engineering company NGE Contracting and Société Générale des Travaux du Maroc will undertake the civil works under an engineering, procurement and construction contract awarded in August 2018 (see H&D Issue 3, 2018). Bouygues Energies & Services will build a 50 km 225-kV transmission line that will connect the run-of-river project to the Nyom II substation to supply power to the capital, Yaoundé. Nachtigal will comprise a 1455 m-long, 13.6 m-high RCC dam, which will impound a reservoir with a storage capacity of 27.8 x 106 m3, a 3.3 km-long headrace tunnel that will feed a powerhouse, with seven 60 MW units able to operate either as a run-of-river or an intermediate peaking plant, a secondary 4.5 MW plant to generate from the environmental flow and, transmission infrastructure.

The scheme, which will boost the country’s installed capacity by 30 per cent, will help meet projected demand growth, as well as the country’s goal of providing access to electricity to 88 per cent of the population living in electrified localities by 2022. In addition, Nachtigal will be a key part of the Government’s effort to reduce the cost of electricity. The plant, which is expected to generate 2.9 TWh per annum when it starts operating in 2023, will supply the grid through a 35-year availability-based power purchase agreement with privately owned distributor Energy of Cameroon at a rate of €0.061/kWh, among the lowest tariffs for any generation project in Sub-Saharan Africa.