The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s energy infrastructure – 99 percent hydropower — is in desperate need of refurbishment and the 260 MW Nseke hydropower plant is no different. Located on the Lualaba river in the extreme south of the country, Nseke was originally commissioned by GE in 1956 but has been operating at a reduced capacity for some time.
Not only is this electricity needed for the DRC’s approximately 80 million inhabitants but also to power the critical mining sector which provides most of the country’s export income. The DRC is the world’s largest producer of Cobalt ore and has the world’s second largest copper reserves.
AS GOOD AS NEW
GE’s job is to refurbish the plant, getting it back to its original operating condition and output. GE’s scope of work included refurbishing 4 x 65 MW vertical Francis turbine and generator units, balance of plant and hydro-mechanical and lifting equipment.
GE adapted to Nseke’s remote location by building workshops onsite for machining and generator pole refurbishment, including the capability of safely removing asbestos.
One of the world’s largest transport aircraft, the Ilyushin Il-76, was called upon to deliver a new 32 ton, 9 m generator shaft that was manufactured and delivered in only ten months, giving new meaning to special delivery.
The SNEL team has been trained on the new equipment and three of the four units are in operation with the fourth slated to go online in early 2018. NSEKE is another step in the DRC’s path of economic growth.
Since then, GE signed two additional refurbishment contracts in the DRC for four units at Inga.