Charles Nkwawir Shiynteng, Technical Director at Mekin Hydroelectric Development Corporation.
Can you give us an update on the Mekin project?
Construction started in June 2012 and had to last for three years. The project is the first among projects that will be undertaken by Mekin Hydro Electricity Development Corporation. It was carried out by the China National Electric Engineering Corporation. In 2015, we had a problem with the Chinese that caused work to be suspended for over seven months. However, the first 5MW were released from here same year when work resumed. In 2016, we had all the civil engineering construction works completed. The next task was to connect the project to the load points where users of electricity in homes and industries would start consuming the energy. So we started mechanical tests also known as non-load tests; checking hydro mechanical components to ensure they are functioning well. We did that and everything was good. Then we moved to the load tests; bringing out energy and supplying to artificial loads. The turbines functioned well and gave out the expected energy. One of the turbines produced 5.3MW instead of the expected 5MW which indicates we can have more energy than expected during favorable conditions of rainfall which is the main component of production (water).
How will you overcome hurdles that have delayed distribution of the energy to users?
When we injected our hydro electrical energy into ENEO lines, we realized they had broken electricity poles, obsolete equipments and structures. Each time we sent electricity we had problems. In some instances it came back to us and had a negative impact on our turbines at the production center. To solve the problem, we agreed on a stand-alone mode. This means ENEO would give us the D-34 line; cutting off the current line from Mbalmayo and leaving it for us to supply energy on the line. The maximum energy consumption at peak periods on this line is 7MW but we are producing 15MW which means we cannot maximize our plant on a stand-alone basis. So we have carry out studies to integrate our power into ENEO networks and when we are through, we will carry out interconnection proper. With interconnection, we can dispatch the maximum amount of energy from the plant. In this case, even at low periods, ENEO will be able to transport energy to other load points which need energy. We will be able to send any amount of energy they require. All this will be done following a power purchase agreement which will permit us to sell our energy. We also have another potential buyer of our energy, a company which produces rubber. Also note that besides electricity, the corporation is working on implementing other projects in the South region in collaboration with the Ministry of Livestock Fisheries and Animal Industries and the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife.