Ethiopia builds Africa’s first energy plant that converts trash into electricity

Ethiopia, in the Horn of Africa, is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Along with economic growth comes growth in waste generation, not least in the densely populated capital of the country, Addis Ababa. So far, the waste generated by the more than 5 million inhabitants has been disposed of at an uncontrolled landfill.

To ensure sustainable management of the waste generated in Addis Ababa, the state-owned utility Ethiopian Electrical Power (EEP) decided to build a modern waste-to-energy facility. The facility is now in operation, and it will provide treatment for 1,400 tonnes of municipal waste per day, while at the same time generating 20 MW power to the grid. Also, it will transfer knowledge to the Ethiopians and serve as an inspiration to other cities in Africa.

The USD 120M EPC contract to build the plant was signed in 2013 between EEP and Cambridge Industries Ltd (CIL) (with its partner China National Electric Engineering Co. (CNEEC)). Subsequently, in 2014 Ramboll won an international bid for the Owner’s Engineer role, including review of the contractor’s designs, site supervision and assistance in the management of the EPC contract. Since the project was initiated, a total of about 30 Ramboll experts have been involved in the project, delivering 15,000 hours on site in Ethiopia and about 3,500 hours from home office in Denmark. 

The facility has been designed and built to operate according to European emission standards.

Project facts

  • Capacity: 400 000 tonnes per annum
  • Waste: Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)
  • Furnace/boiler: 2 grate fired lines, vertical economizer section
  • Energy production: 20 MW power 
  • Steam parameters: 60 bar/420˚C
  • Flue gas treatment: SNCR, dry FGT system (lime milk in reaction tower), baghouse filter
  • Procurement: EPC
  • Commissioning: 2018


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