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First unit being assembled at Karuma station

As the 600 MW Karuma Hydro Power Project edges towards completion, a crucial milestone is currently underway – the installation of hydro mechanical and electro-mechanical equipment.

This set of equipment includes the turbine and associated parts like the bottom ring, head cover, wicket gate, turbine shafts, rotors and stators.

Aerial view of Karuma dam

“We are currently assembling the rotor for the first turbine unit on site after successful hoisting of the bottom ring for the same unit last month,” Deng Changhyi, the project manager of the contractor, Sinohydro Corporation of China, said recently.

This is a major stride towards the goal of ensuring that the first unit is ready for generation at the end of 2018, he added. The generator unit is composed of the turbine blades, shaft, rotor, stator, the turbine governor system, ventilation and cooling system and generator auxiliary system.

The generation of electricity from this system is a cascading combination of energy changes from water’s kinetic energy that moves the turbine and all the other moving parts, creating an electromagnetic field from which current is produced and conducted away to the transformers, hence electricity.

“We are mandated to carry out acceptance tests on all equipment, grant delivery permission, arrival acceptance and subject the equipment to detailed assembly programmes,” he added.

This is done not just by the contractors but by all the parties on site namely the client Ministry of Energy, the government implementing agency UEGCL and the owner’s engineer.

Karuma has an underground powerhouse, which shall receive water to move the turbines through a mosaic of tunnels and ducts, making it the first of its kind in Africa.

The authorities confirm that there is a total 26.5 km of underground tunnelling and other civil works so far. Civil works on the dam and water in-take sections is almost complete with the installation of radial flood control gates recently completed.

Once complete, each of the six turbine units shall have an installed capacity of 100MW. Uganda’s current installed capacity is estimated at 890MW.

The total project cost for Karuma is $1.7 billion and includes the generation and transmission components. The project shall have three major transmission lines evacuating the power produced. These are the 400 KV Karuma-Kawanda line that is 248km long; 400 KV Karuma-Olwiyo 55km and the 132 KV Karuma-Lira 75km.

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