Project Stage 1: Making electricity available for industrial use
PROLASA has done a great effort constructing two hydroelectric power stations. The upper one of the two power plants has been in operation since 2013 and supplies electricity for light and charging cell phones and laptops. However, some problems provide for the electricity not being used industrially to operate machinery, tools and other larger equipment, as originally planned.
Sketch of existing hydroelectric power plants
One reason for this is the roughly 1.3 kilometer-long power line between the upper engine house and the industrial campus. With low voltage (230 V), the current is passed through relatively thin cables, in which a considerable part of the voltage drops due to the length of the cables when used by large electricity consumer. Thus machines, such as those used in the metal workshop or the coffee factory, do not operate properly. Furthermore, the voltage and frequency control does not work accurately, which also causes problems when using machines. Unpaved sections of the water canal make for sand and pebbles beeing carried along in the water, which in the long term can damage the turbine.
Together with our project partners we would like to face the challenges of a reliable, long-lasting and secure power supply and tackle the problems mentioned.
We would first like to take care of the launch of the second power plant. The associated lower machine house is located closer to PROLASA and convinces with a more solid construction than the currently active upper machine house. In addition, it already has a Banki turbine and a 250 kVA synchronous generator, which can be used temporarily for the first project stage.
On the approximately 800-metre long transmission line from the lower machinery house, we are using insulated 3×95 mm² aluminium overhead lines and a new, more stable route of tubular steel masts. At the end of the line, on the edge of PROLASA’s industrial campus, a distribution station follows, from where the individual plants are supplied in a radial pattern.
In addition to the measures on the machine house and line, various hydraulic engineering improvements are necessary. These include the repair of the partially damaged inlet sewer with reinforced concrete. In order to protect the downpipe from mechanical stress and the effects of erosion in the long term, it is straightened and stored in places on newly laid foundation blocks and the course is straightened. In addition, a pressure block is installed just in front of the turbine house, which takes up the loads from the downpipe and thus reduces the load on the turbine. In addition, measures are taken against erosion, such as reforestation.
All components and building materials used can be ordered in the major cities of Goma and Bukavu on Lake Kivu, as well as in nearby Rwanda. Construction plans, circuit diagrams and material lists are prepared in close contact with the project partners and their technicians and made available together with the necessary books and instructions in French or English. Until commissioning, we want to go through maintenance schedules and possible faults so that the plant can be operated independently by the project partners for a long time.