Gilkes Hydro have received an order from Mulanje Renewable Energy (MRE) for the supply and commissioning of 2 Pelton Hydro Turbines and associated electro-mechanical package for the Ruo Hydroelectric Project in Malawi. Although the scheme at the foot of Mount Mulanje see's Gilkes re-enter the Malawi market for the supply of new equipment, Gilkes have a long history in the region.
The new scheme on the Lujeri Tea Estate will eventually replace all existing turbines and powerhouses on the estate. Lujeri currently has 2 power houses situated on the Lujeri and Ruo rivers with 5 turbines in total, 4 of which are original Gilkes manufacture. The first turbine was installed in the Ruo powerhouse in 1934 to supply power to the factory and for domestic use. With a further 2 turbines being installed in 1946 and 1957. The 4th machine was installed in the Lujeri powerhouse in 1957.
In 2010 Gilkes were approached by the present owners of the tea estate, PGI, with a view to modernising the original Gilkes supplied equipment in both powerhouses on the Lujeri Estate. The tea estate employees had maintained the equipment during this time, however many parts were over 25 years old and in need of replacement. Gilkes responded by sending engineers to the tea estate to carry out a full site survey, finding extensive wear to 1 runner, and oil pressure governors in completely non-functional conditions. Excessive wear meant more water flow was required to generate power and the full power output was not maintainable. The Gilkes engineers were the first suppliers to visit the tea estate, demonstrating their responsiveness and commitment to working in Africa. This next phase of hydropower development on the estate will result in an increase in power generation from improved head and flow due to the relocation of the powerhouse.
This new contract and previous support of the Tea Estates demonstrates Gilkes depth of experience and lasting relationships with customers in Africa, to not only re-enter and open up new markets but continuing to support areas that have a long history of hydropower.
Gilkes Head of Sales for Africa, Andy Eaton said: It's exciting for Gilkes to be back in Malawi and again open up another region within Africa! Our team have worked tirelessly to win this sizeable contract and we hope it's the start of many orders to help electrify some very remote parts of Malawi, where people have never had power before.
Gilkes have supplied 13 turbines to Malawi since 1901, with the last being in 1968. Once commissioned the new scheme will produce in the region of 6MW which will be exported into the National Grids.
With the increasing demand for rural electrification of communities in Africa, small hydropower plays a vital role in the energy mix. Gilkes long standing relationships built over many years and experience of working in remote locations throughout Africa make them a trusted partner for tailored hydro solutions. The following are a selection of Gilkes Projects in Africa over the last 12 months:
Kupinga, 1.6MW, Twin Jet Turgo, Zimbabwe
Kaptega, 230kW, Twin Jet Turgo, Kenya
Ruo, 6MW, 2 x Twin Jet Pelton, Malawi
Tsanga B, 2.8MW, Twin Jet Turgo, Zimbabwe
Ndolela, 792kW, Twin Jet Turgo, Tanzania
Sadiola, 176kW, Twin Jet Turgo, Mali