September 15, 2008
Only specialists know about INGA, the site for the biggest hydropower potential in the world, situated on the Congo River, some 200 km downstream from Kinshasa. With its 44 GW, it is able to generate more hydropower than either the Itaipu or the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze, so far the biggest hydropower plants on earth.
If developed, it would be able to supply all of Africa with electricity, without any C02 emissions. Unlike most hydropower plants INGA would not flood either major cities or forests and fertile land, just rocks and barren land.
INGA has been known for decades. The first small hydro plants have been built in the 1970s and 1990s; both need rehabilitation. A third much bigger plant (with an estimated capacity of >4 GW) is in the planning stage. A first feasibility study for the Big INGA been prepared in 1997; in 2007 the African Development has launched additional studies.
Most recently, the World Energy Council has tried to muster political and financial support for INGA. It has organised a workshop on the financial aspects of the power plants and transmission lines. The total financing required might be in the order of at least 30 billion over the coming 10-20 years. So far the G8 has failed to express special interest, despite its political commitment to speeding up Africa’s development.
Nor has the EU, with almost € 2 billion grants and loans annually the main donor to Africa, It does not seem to appreciate the huge contribution INGA might make to African economic integration and to climate change.
When will the EU rise to the challenge?Author : Eberhard Rhein