Final Evaluation Brief: Increasing Efficiency of Hydropower Generation in Malawi

Final Evaluation Brief: Increasing Efficiency of Hydropower Generation in Malawi

Investments Improved and Increased Electricity Supply
Published: Sep 30, 2022
Publisher: Millennium Challenge Corporation
Associated Project

Jacqueline Shieh

Kristen Velyvis

Key Findings
  • The Environmental and Natural Resources Management (ENRM) Project contributed to increases in the efficiency and reliability of the three Shire River hydropower plants through weed and sediment reductions.
  • With two new weed harvesters, Malawi’s Electricity Generation Company (EGENCO) removed an annual average of nearly 29,000 tons of weeds between 2019 and 2021, exceeding the 2012-13 baseline weed removal level by 274 percent.
  • Stakeholders perceive that these outcomes can be sustained if EGENCO continues its weed and sediment management (WSM) activities and performs the necessary mechanical maintenance on its equipment.
  • Using the new dredge at Kapichira since April 2020, EGENCO has removed more sediment than envisioned in the sediment management plan, which will necessitate the construction of another site to store excess sediment volume.

Hydroelectricity powers Malawi’s electricity grid. Just three hydropower plants – Nkula, Tedzani, and Kapichira – represent 70 percent of the country’s total electricity generation capacity. However, excessive sedimentation and aquatic weed growth in the Shire River have contributed to substantial disruptions in electricity generation by these plants, forcing shutdowns for repairs and maintenance and ultimately reducing electricity supply and reliability. This report is the second of two volumes that offer the final findings of a six-year evaluation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s $20 million Environmental and Natural Resources Management (ENRM) Project, part of the $347 million Malawi compact (2013-2018). The ENRM project aimed to reduce power plant disruptions and increase electricity generation efficiency by i.) purchasing mechanical equipment to more effectively remove aquatic weeds and sediment to reduce plant shutdowns and repairs, ii.) creating a grant facility to support communities in adopting sustainable land management practices, and iii.) establishing an environmental trust to scale-up grant-making throughout the Shire River Basin after the compact’s close. The findings reported are based on impact and performance evaluation methods used to comprehensively evaluate the ENRM project’s implementation, outcomes, and sustainability.

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