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16 January 2019

Nachtigal hydropower plant reaches financial close, Republic of Cameroon

The Nachtigal hydropower plant in the Republic of Cameroon has successfully reached financial close. Mott MacDonald is working as lenders’ technical advisor and environmental and social consultant for a consortium of international lenders and development institutions.

Nachtigal hydropower plant is a strategic project for Cameroon and is being developed by Nachtigal Hydro Power Company, whose shareholders are the Republic of Cameroon, Electricité de France (EDF), International Finance Corporation (IFC), Africa50 and STOA Infra & Energy.

Located 65km north of the capital Yaoundé, at Nachtigal Falls on the Sanaga River, the plant will comprise a 1.5km long roller compacted concrete dam, diverting water into a 3.3km long concrete lined headrace canal to a surface powerhouse, containing 7x60MW Francis turbines, with a maximum flow rate of 980m³/s. The power generated from the plant will be exported via a double busbar generation substation and then a 50.3km long double circuit transmission line. It will interconnect with the national grid at Nyom 2 connection substation.

Mott MacDonald has been involved in the Nachtigal project since June 2017 and carried out due diligence of the proposed plant which included a review of the plant design, evaluation of hydrology, sedimentation studies and analysis of climate change sensitivities. The company has performed a review of geological and geotechnical investigations, project suitability and evaluated the technical aspects of the project. This included use of proprietary in-house software developed specifically for the simulation of energy generation of hydropower schemes.

Neil Underhill, Mott MacDonald’s project manager, said: “The Republic of Cameroon has the second highest hydropower potential in Africa with an estimated capacity of 12,000MW, most of which is located in the Sanaga River basin. It’s fantastic to be able to use this power to meet the increasing demand for electricity in Cameroon as the country strives towards emerging economy status by 2035. This plant will avoid estimated annual emissions of over 1m tonnes of CO2-eq that would be produced by a comparable thermal plant, with an electricity tariff that is among the lowest of any new generation project in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Mott MacDonald will now monitor subsequent construction and operations in an ongoing role. The project is expected to be commissioned by 2023.

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