Gilgel Gibe III Hydroelectric Power Project

The 1,870MW Gilgel Gibe III (Gibe III) hydroelectric power project was constructed on the Omo River in Ethiopia's Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region State (SNNPRS).

Plant Type

Hydro electric



Installed Capacity


Project Commencement Date



Gilgel Gibe

The 1,870MW Gilgel Gibe III (Gibe III) hydroelectric power project was constructed on the Omo River in Ethiopia’s Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region State (SNNPRS).

It is the largest hydroelectric power plant in Ethiopia with an estimated production capacity of 6,500GWh a year.

The project includes a 243m roller compacted concrete dam, the first of its kind in Ethiopia and one of the tallest in the world.

Gibe III was launched in July 2006, with the first unit starting its trial-running generation in September 2013. It was fully commissioned in December 2016.

State-owned public utility enterprise Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) is the developer of the project, which cost €1.47bn (approximately $1.83bn).

Gibe III hydroelectric power project details

"The project includes a 243m roller compacted concrete dam."

The Gibe III project is located within the Omo Gibe River Basin, approximately 450km south of Addis Ababa. It is used for floodwater regulation and maintenance, as well as power generation.

Gibe III enables Ethiopia to become self-sufficient in power generation and helps it export energy to neighbouring countries through a regional interconnection transmission system.

The 243m-high Gibe III dam has a crest length of 610m and was constructed at an altitude ranging between 650m and 1,650m above sea level. Its reservoir has a total storage capacity of 14.7 billion cubic metres.

The surface powerhouse is located on the left side of the river and contains ten vertical-axis Francis turbines each with a nominal power output of 187MW. It also includes two power tunnels both 11m in diameter. Each tunnel is connected to five generator units using two penstocks and manifolds.

A switchyard is installed with ten step-up transformers of 200MVA to convert the voltage from 15kV to 400kV. It includes a double bus-bar scheme linking five three-phase 400kV transmission lines.

Gibe III hydroelectric project construction

The Grand Renaissance Hydroelectric Project is being developed on the Blue Nile River in the Ethiopian state of Benishangul-Gumuz.

Major works at the project included construction of the dam, powerhouse and two diversion tunnels, as well as excavation of temporary access tunnels.

Other works included construction of twin pumping tunnels, coffer dam, intake structures, horizontal tunnels, and four vertical wells and two distributors.


The Ethiopian Government provided approximately €448m through the EEPCo.

EEPCo and Tebian Electric Apparatus (TBEA) signed a $34m contract for construction of the transmission lines in July 2009. Chinese EXIM bank provided 85% of the financing.

Power transmission from Gibe III

Power is transmitted to the national grid by two 400kV transmission lines. The first line of the double circuit is 50.3km-long, while the 51km-long single circuit second line transfers electricity from the Gibe III switchyard to Wolaita Sodo substation.

Contractors for construction and engineering services

"Power is transmitted to the national grid by two 400kV transmission lines."

EEPCo awarded a $1.7bn engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to Salini Costruttori, an Italian company. Salini also signed an agreement for construction of a 66kV electrical power line from the Sodo-Wolayta substation to the plant site.

Studio Pietrangeli was contracted by Salini to provide engineering services for the feasibility study, basic design, final design and technical supervision during construction.

A joint venture of ELC Electrocosult and Coyne Et Bellier acted as EEPCo’s representative for the quality control of the design and construction phases.

EEPCO hired Tractebel Engineering and ELC to review the design and assist in the EPC tendering, and act as the owner’s engineer for the project.

Shanghai Electric Group was awarded a contract for the design, manufacture and commissioning of two 400kV substations at Wolayta Sodo and Akaki. This also included the extension work at the existing Gilgel Gibe-II and Sebeta-II 400kV substations.

Chinese company TBEA signed a deal to install power transmission lines running from Gibe III to the Wolayta substation.

NRI Energy Technology

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