Automation technology company ABB has been contracted by the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC’s) national electricity company, Société nationale d’électricité (SNEL), to partially upgrade its Inga–Kolwezi high-voltage direct current (HVDC) power transmission link.
The $30-million contract forms part of the country’s reliability improvement, rehabilitation and reinforcement of the SNEL production and transport infrastructures, or FRIPT, project, which is financed by Glencore and managed by Congo Energy, a subsidiary of Forrest Group International.
The FRIPT project seeks to increase production capacity and transmit electricity between the Inga site and the town of Kolwezi, a distance of 2 300 km.
The link transmits power from the Inga hydropower station, on the Congo river, to the mining district of Katanga, in the south-east of the country. It also exports the excess power to Southern African Power Pool countries.
ABB will refurbish the original link it built in 1982, which will boost transmission capacity, enhance grid reliability, extend the life span of the line and ensure the efficient transmission of hydroelectricity across the region.
The retrofit will make it possible to increase transmission capacity from 520 MW to 1 000 MW, securing power supplies to the mining region in Katanga and strengthening the power infrastructure in the DRC.
ABB’s project scope includes system studies, the supply of key equipment, such as high-voltage apparatus, and commissioning.
“We are pleased to continue our long association with the Inga–Kolwezi HVDC Link and contribute to the strengthening of the DRC’s power infrastructure. “This upgrade will boost the supply of clean hydropower to industrial and domestic customers,” says ABB power grids division president Claudio Facchin.