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Hydropower in Ethiopia

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A 1.1 mile long 509 foot tall concrete dam spanning the Blue Nile River is set to become the largest hydropower plant in Africa. Under construction since 2011, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is expected to produce around 16,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually when fully complete in 2023 providing power to 60% of Ethiopia's estimated 115 million people.

An initial filling of the Ethiopian Reservoir can be seen in the 2017 Landsat image. The water level then dropped before the first phase of reservoir filling began in the summer of 2020. The 2021 image was acquired in April during the dry season.

This curved shape southwest of the main dam is referred to as the Saddle Dam and hints at the reservoir's eventual capacity of 74 cubic kilometers. That's about twice the volume of Lake Mead which supplies water for irrigation and human consumption in the southwestern United States.




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