Liberia: British Ambassador Bradley Calls for Solar Energy to Support Mount Coffee Hydro

Amb. Bradley and delegation on a guided tour at the Mt Coffee Hydro Electric Power Plant in Harrisburg

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated from the original content published. FrontPageAfrica had earlier reported that the Ambassador Neil Bradly called on Liberia to prioritize solar energy, instead of hydroelectric power, which is currently the main source of energy in Liberia. This information which was sent to FrontPageAfrica by the Press Officer of the Liberia Electricity Corporation was wrongly attributed to Ambassador Bradley. We regret any inconvenience it may have caused.

White Plains Harrisburg – United Kingdom Ambassador accredited to Liberia, Neil Bradley has commended the development of all forms of sustainable energy in Liberia.

He said, in a climate such as Liberia’s, hydroelectric power was an important source of such energy during the rainy season, whilst solar power could help fulfil Liberia’s energy needs during the dry season.

He said, a combination of the two could provide a cost-effective and climate-friendly way of increasing Liberia’s electricity supply all year round, thus helping to facilitate Liberia’s human and economic development. The UK looks forward to welcoming Liberia’s delegation to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in just over a week, and celebrating Liberia’s efforts in increasing sustainable energy production..

The Mount Coffee Hydro Electric Power Plant has been the major source of energy in Liberia. The facility was destroyed during Liberia’s devastating civil war. With western aid, the plant was resuscitated during the administration of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2016 it is supplying most part of Monrovia and its environs.

However, Amb. Bradley, joined by U.S. Embassy staff on the tour, said to operate a hydro power would require huge and lasting funding, especially taking into consideration regular monthly or yearly routine maintenance.

 He noted that installing a solar energy plant at the Hydro could save the Government of Liberia and donor partners through the LEC management huge sum of money when damage, which cannot be avoided occurs at the plant.

Amb. Bradley, used the occasion to call on engineers and staffs working at the facility to maximize every opportunity including scholarship that is being provided by the UK-Government in order to sharpen their skills and develop their capacity as a way of getting a broad understanding of the energy sector in line with contemporary age. 

He commended the Plant Manager, Engineer Emile G. Karnga, the Operations Manager Decontee Q. Wesseh, as well as operational staff for the level of work done at the hydro.

Giving his impression about the form and manner through which the local LEC-Operators were displaying their skills and talent, the UK Ambassador then expressed his satisfaction seeing Liberians themselves being in full control of the Hydropower Plant. 

Ambassador Bradley’s visit was aimed at acquainting himself with the Mt. Coffee facilities after its rehabilitation and to interact with the LEC-operators at the Power house. 

His toured also encompasses viewing the proposed site for the Solar Project, the expansion of the Power house and the Faulty Unit as a way of understanding the current challenges confronting Liberia’s single largest power source situated in Harrisburg, in rural Montserrado County. 

Also speaking during the guided toured on behalf of the ESBI-Management Contract Team, LEC’s Chief Executive Officer, Paschal Buckley, extended his thanks and appreciation to the UK Ambassador and US delegation for their visit to Mt. Coffee and to see the level of work that is being done by the team.

CEO Buckley pleaded for urgent support for the repair of Unit #1 Generation. “Right now, we have three Units available and with the growing grid demand, we will need the fourth Unit for a support base system. Before the war, Liberia had a total Generation capacity of 130MW and that demand is still around,” Buckley said. 

Predicting the Corporation’s position in not too distance future, CEO Paschal Buckley disclosed that with the expansion of the network and the growing grid demand, the Hydro Power Plant with 88 megawatts installed capacity, will not be able to supply in the near future.

There is a need to invest into another power generating facility that will help Mt. Coffee for future full grid support, he said.

Brief History of the Plant

The Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant was reopened on the 15th of December 2016, under the leadership of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. It is Liberia’s single largest power source. The facility delivers clean and sustainable energy and contributes significantly towards rebuilding a country that has faced incredible pressures in recent history. 

One of its goals is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy for all. The Plant is the key facility to achieve said goal in Liberia, and the project was partly financed by the Norwegian Government. 

The original Mount Coffee Hydro Power Plant was constructed many years and began generation in 1967. The Plant is located approximately 25 km north of the Liberian capital, Monrovia. It operated successfully for twenty-three years until 1990 when, during the first two civil wars, the dam was overtopped and eventually breached over a length of approximately 180 m.

The powerhouse, which housed four Francis turbines with a total of installed capacity of 64MW at the time, was flooded and later stripped of all its mechanical and electrical equipment. The output of the new units is substantially upgraded to 22 MW each.

The project adopted a fast-track approach, but progress halted in 2014 due to the emergence of an unprecedented Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

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