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Nation helps Guinea achieve electrical stability

By Hou Liqiang | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-13 07:09

Nation helps Guinea achieve electrical stability

A bird's-eye view of the Kaleta Hydropower Station in Guinea.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Power failures were common. When night fell, diesel generators clattered, yet it was a luxury to have a light on before going to bed. Using an air conditioner was extravagant.

This is Chen Xingliang's memory of his first visit to the Republic of Guinea in 2011. Chen is a senior engineer at Yellow River Engineering Consulting Co, which helped design the Kaleta Hydropower Station.

At first, the whole world seemed gray, he said, using a term that refers to intermittent power. A colleague who accompanied him wanted to return home shortly after arriving.

That "gray" country, however, has been transformed into a colorful one, he said. "It came alive when we arrived in March last year. The Guinean people gave us a warm reception once they know we were the builders of the Kaleta station.

"When we go shopping, the shop runners often say: 'Look! The electricity we use here is from Kaleta!' " he said.

There is more for Chen and his colleagues to be proud of. In honor of the project, Guinea printed images of Kaleta Hydropower Station on its 20,000 franc bank note, the largest note in the country.

The 240-megawatt hydropower station, located on the Konkoure River in west-central Guinea and about 165 kilometers from Conarky, the capital, was commissioned on Sept 28, 2015, increasing Guinea's hydroelectric generating capacity from 128 MW in 2012 to 368MW.

With an average annual generating capacity of 946 gigawatt-hours, the facility has provided stable electricity to Conarky's residents - more than 1.7 million people-for the first time.

The plant helps alleviate the energy shortage in the country, said President Alpha Conde during the commissioning ceremony.

He added that 30 percent of Kaleta's output goes to the country's neighbors, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.

Guinea has abundant natural resources, including bauxite, iron ore, diamonds and gold. The country has 25 percent or more of the world's known bauxite reserves. Kaleta Hydropower Station is expected to promote the country's metal output.

China International Water& Electric Corp built the project at a cost of $446 million. China Export-Import Bank provided 75 percent of the funds with a preferential buyer's credit, and Guinea funded the rest.

Construction began in April 2012 and was completed a year ahead of schedule in 2016. Operations were interrupted by the largest Ebola outbreak to date, which hit West Africa from December 2013 to January 2016.

Yin Dewen, director general of Yellow River Engineering's Overseas Project Engineering Institute, said Chinese workers stuck to their posts even though employees of another foreign company involved in the project all left the country over safety concerns as the epidemic raged.

"Kaleta Hydropower Station was built to rid the country of power shortages," said Sun Quansheng, a senior official at the institute. "We're not in Guinea to make money and then go. We're here for the sustainable development of the country.

"While working on another hydropower station - Souapiti - we have done overall planning for future hydropower development."

Nation helps Guinea achieve electrical stability

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