Shire River, Malawi | Photo: Rodrigo Suarez, Multiconsult


Mpatamanga Dam Site, Malawi | Photo: Rodrigo Suarez, Multiconsult

Multiconsult will assess effects of planned power plant in Malawi

Multiconsult has recently signed agreements with SN Power for the technical, environmental and social due diligence and additional studies, for the proposed Mpatamanga hydropower plant, located on the Shire River in Malawi.

29. May 2019

SN Power is participating in the early-stage development of the project as specialist developer for the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Later this year the the government of Malawi will launch a competitive tender process among private developers for the project.

Important role in the energy system
«Mpatamanga is the next large hydropower project, to be developed by an Independent Power Producer (IPP) in Africa”, says Anders Gustav Pettersen, Managing Director of Multiconsult UK.

The project is planned to have an installed capacity of 250-310 MW and be designed to provide peak load capacity. It will be developed with a view to operate at full power twice a day. Much of both the technical and the environmental part is about ensuring a good and safe peak- load management. Many believe that the role of hydropower for meeting peak power demands will be increasingly important in the future, in a system where base-load power will come from other, intermittent renewable energy sources, explains Anders Gustav.

It is therefore exciting to get involved in solving this issue in an environmentally and technically sound manner at an early phase of the project. Also, the project is situated in an area where we have extensive knowledge on the hydrology of the river and existing projects, he adds.

Social development
“Beyond the engineering challenge, Mpatamanga represents an important step towards the development of Malawi. This power plant alone will practically double the installed power generation capacity of the country. For us, it is a great honour to be involved in this milestone in the history of the nation”, says Rodrigo Suarez, Multiconsult’s project manager for the technical due diligence.

“Historically, this region has been reduced to cover its energy needs through the construction of cheaper but extremely polluting power plants resulting in a negative effect on the environment. That is why part of our work is to show that this type of renewable energy at this scale can be competitive from an economic point of view and at the same time, keeping the environmental impact to a minimum, preserving the delicate and unique ecosystem existing in the country. Personally, what gives me most satisfaction is to know Mpatamanga will allow a greater percentage of the population to have access to a stable and reliable electricity supply, boosting the social development and improving the quality of life of a large number of people”, says Rodrigo Suarez.

Long history
With extensive specialist expertise in hydropower development, Multiconsult has worked in the energy sector in the Southern African region for more than 35 years.

Earlier assignments in Malawi include the Shire River Flow augmentation project, Feasibility study for the stabilisation of the course of the Songwe River, and the recent upgrading of the Kamuzu Barrage where Multiconsult prepared detailed design, tender documents and provided construction supervision services for the project. Several Multiconsult staff were also involved in Nkhula, Tedzani and Kapichira hydropower projects on the Shire River.