Tanzania Shuts Down Hydropower Plants Due to Excess Energy Surplus

Excess Electricity Forces Closure of Five Major Stations in Tanzania

by Ikeoluwa Juliana Ogungbangbe

Tanzania has recently shut down five of its hydropower stations because of an extraordinary amount of excess electricity on the national grid. Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa verified this extraordinary situation, emphasizing the excess output mainly from the Julius Nyerere Hydroelectric Station, which by itself is capable of powering large towns like Dar es Salaam.

The rationale for this severe action was given to BBC News Africa by a representative of Tanesco, Tanzania’s state-run power company: “We have turned off all these stations since the demand is now low and the electricity production is too great; we simply have no allocation now.” This decision is a historic first for Tanzania, a country that produces over 45% of its electricity through hydropower.

The current abundance of hydroelectric power is part of a broader act towards boosting Tanzania’s energy reserves. Earlier in February, the government announced that the Julius Nyerere Hydropower Project had begun operations, contributing an initial 235 megawatts (MW) to the grid. The Minister of Water, Energy, and Minerals, Shaib Hassan Kaduara, noted that the plant’s total capacity reaches 2,115 MW.

Tanzania’s ambitious power master plan, which includes attempts to connect Tanzania’s grids with those of neighboring nations like Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia, is anchored by the Julius Nyerere Hydropower Project. With a reservoir capacity of 34 billion cubic meters, it will be Tanzania’s largest power plant when it is fully operating.

Looking forward, Tanzania’s peak electricity demand is projected to quadruple by 2025, reaching around 4,000 MW. To meet this growing demand, the country aims to increase its installed capacity to 10 gigawatts (GW) by 2025. Furthermore, Tanzania is working towards nearly doubling its electrification rates, setting a target of 75% by 2033.

These hydroelectric plants’ temporary closure is evidence of Tanzania’s changing energy environment, which has moved from managing a surplus of energy to dealing with persistent shortages. This change not only signifies a major advancement in the country’s energy industry, but it also presents new difficulties in coordinating energy production with varying demand.

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