ATB in Cameroon to supply the hydro-mechanical package of Nachtigal

Friday, 20 December 2019

The 17 m by 120 tons gates become part of the hydroelectric plant property of NHCO, a company owned by EDF.

ATB in Nachtigal, Cameroon

Once the Nachtigal hydropower plant is fully operational, it will be the largest dam in Cameroon, and will inject more than 420 MW of electricity to the national network. According to the plans, this plant, that is being built in the town of Ndokoa, Lekie Division, on the Sanaga river, and near the capital city of Yaoundé, will start operating within 2023. ATB Group will also contribute to building this important infrastructure. 

A contract was signed a few weeks ago authorising the Brescia-based company to be in charge of supplying the hydro-mechanical package needed so that the dam can start operating. This dam is owned by NHPC, a company currently run by Electricité de France (EDF) and formed by International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Republic of Cameroon, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and STOA Infra & Energy. The project is part of a wider hydroelectric development plan which will allow the African country to obtain the necessary energy for the population, for the industrial activity and also for export. Within the project, ATB Riva Calzoni will be the sub-contractor of the Consortium made up of NGE Contracting (France), Besix (Belgium) and SGTM (Morocco).

«To speed and simply all our moves, as it is usually the case in a situation like this one, ATB set up a company in Cameroon which will be in charge of all the local aspects and works related to fitting the gates», stresses Enrico Camparada, Managing Director of the Hydro-Mechanical Equipment Division. Paolo Zenocchini, Engineering Manager of the HME Division of ATB, is the person in charge of looking deeper into the technical side of the contract. «We are talking about quite large components», he explains. «The gates are 17 metres wide, more than 10 m tall, and weigh approximately 120 tones. For this reason, the works will require space at the facilities and ability to move significant weights».

Another challenging aspect of the project are the programs: «These gates are essential so that the customer can proceed to the subsequent stages», adds the engineer. Besides designing and building the gates, ATB will be in charge of assembling and commissioning them. This last step should be completed by mid-November 2020». 

Another variable, certainly not a minor one, will have to be taken into account during the execution of the works: weather. In the period when the gates will be fitted, humidity levels may reach 100% due to the rainy season. These variables will turn installation into a complex task. «We also bear in mind that we are in a faraway, wild area, with malaria and tropical infections», stresses Zenocchini. «Another particular aspect of the project worth mentioning is the painting cycle; quite a challenging task as it involves the hot metallising of the surfaces and requires qualified operators certified on this type of operations».

In the meantime, a second offer is cooking at the engineering and commercial departments of ATB. This time for the lot that comprises all the penstocks of the hydroelectric station.