The Kinguele Aval hydropower plant in Gabon, being developed by Meridiam and FGIS, has reached financial close. Mott MacDonald is the technical, environmental and social advisor on the project on behalf of the project lenders: the International Finance Corporation, African Development Bank, Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund, acting through its duly authorised agent Ninety One.
The 35MW run-of-the-river Kinguele Aval hydropower plant on the M'Bei River, 90km east of Gabon's capital Libreville, will bring low-cost, clean power generation capacity to the city. It is expected that the plant will generate 203GWh of electricity, amounting to approximately nine percent of the country's current total output.
The plant will comprise of a 48m high, 250m long conventional concrete gravity dam with 210m long embankment dam, diverting water to a surface powerhouse, containing 3x12MW vertical axis Francis turbines, with a maximum flow rate of 90m³/s.
The hydropower plant underscores Gabon's ‘Plan Stratégique Gabon Émergent’ that commits the Gabonese government to provide its people with affordable electricity. The government is also aiming for energy transition, displacing expensive and polluting thermal power through demonstrating a commercially viable and sustainable way of developing the country's hydro potential.
As part of the project’s “social contract” in the Local Community Development Plan, the plant will provide electrification for the local communities of Alen Komo, Andock Foula, Makabane and Madouacka. It will also set up a local development fund for small local community projects in healthcare, education and culture.
The Kinguélé Aval dam will be constructed in the buffer zone of the Monts de Cristal National Park, while the reservoir will cover about 2% of the national park’s surface. The project will provide financial and logistical support for a de facto extension of the national park by enabling protection of approximately 2000ha of adjoining land.
Mott MacDonald carried out technical due diligence on the hydro plant which included a review of the plant design including aspects such as geology and geotechnical, hydrology resources and energy yield forecasts, as well as a review of the broader project commercial basis. In addition, Mott MacDonald undertook detailed due diligence on all environmental and social aspects, including review of proposed project environmental and social management plans. Due to potential project impact, biodiversity aspects were reviewed in great detail, including several versions of the project’s strategies for managing biodiversity including the project Biodiversity Action Plan, Offset Feasibility Study, and protections for the wide range of fauna and flora including great apes, located within the park.
Ajay Chaudhary, Mott MacDonald’s project director, said: “We are very happy to have been involved with and continue to work on the Kinguele Aval hydropower plant that will help Gabon’s commitment to providing affordable electricity. The plant will serve 32,000 customers and save more than 90,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year.”
Construction is due to begin in Summer 2021. Mott MacDonald will continue to monitor construction.