Salini Group begins work on world’s tallest dam

Italy’s Salini Impregilo Group commences construction of the 335m-tall Rogun dam in Tajikistan

Preliminary earthworks and stabilising reinforcement linked to the Rogun HydroPower Project. (Image: Iran's Tehran-based Ariana Corporation)
Preliminary earthworks and stabilising reinforcement linked to the Rogun HydroPower Project. (Image: Iran's Tehran-based Ariana Corporation)

Work has officially commenced on the 335m-tall Rogun dam – the world’s tallest – in Tajikistan, after an event attended by the country’s president, Emomali Rahmon – a former Soviet official who has held the position since 1992.

The 335m-high dam structure is being constructed on the Vakhsh River in the country’s mountainous Pamir region, where 74 million cubic metres of earth, rock and other core has already been deposited to divert the water course.

“The Vakhsh River was directed towards tunnels on the left side of the mountain, facilitating efforts to dry the area where the dam’s foundations will be built,” said Claudio Lautizi, GM of International Operations for Salini Impregilo. “The project is extremely complex and it involves managing the strength of the river.”

Salini Impregilo was signed as the EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) contractor for the $1.95bn first phase of the hydroelectric power in July 2016 by the state company Rogun Hydropower Project (Rogun HPP).

In a speech, the President emphasised how Rogun HPP is his country’s answer to the global shift towards renewable energy and that the project will reduce the country’s CO2 emissions by hundreds of thousands of tonnes.

Once completed, the Rogun Hydropower Project will include six turbines and produce 3,600MW – as much as three medium-size nuclear power stations – in so doubling Tajikistan’s energy production.

The entire project, in all its phases, will cost $3.9bn to complete, and will reduce winter power shortages in Tajikistan and assist agricultural irrigation efforts, while also providing spare power for export to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Phase one is expected to be completed by April 2019, by which time two of the six turbines should be operational and producing electricity – with one of the six turbines coming online by the end of 2018.

However, it will take another seven and a half years, up to 2026, to complete the entire 61.2 million-cubic metre rockfill structure and claim the record of the tallest dam in the world.

The current tallest dam is the 305m-tall Jinping-I Dam, a concrete arch dam on the Jinping bend of the Yalong River in Liangshan, Sichuan, China.

Tajikistan's Vakhsh River is already home to the next contender and the largest earth-filled embankment dam, the Nurek Dam, which was completed in 1980 when Tajikistan was still a republic of the Soviet Union.

Salini Impregilo is, of course, a major player in the delivery of complex global infrastructure projects, having played a lead role in the expansion of the Panama Canal and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

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