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The maps of south east Albania need to be redrawn as the landscape has changed. In the Devoll valley, a new 16km long reservoir with a surface area equivalent to 2000 football pitches has been created with the construction of the hydropower plant at Banja, located 65km from the capital Tirana. Started in the 80's, then abandoned with the collapse of the communist regime, it re-started in 2013.
The project's clay core embankment dam is itself an impressive landmark, measuring 960m long, 80m high and 370m wide at its base. The volume of material needed to build it, some 4.7Mm3, is twice that needed to construct the Great Pyramid of Giza. The power intake leads to the headrace tunnel and steel penstock to convey water to the surface power house to generate 73MW and on to the tailrace, returning water to the river.
A spillway, 50m wide x 375m long will control downstream flooding to 400m3/s using the reservoir buffer levels. Mott MacDonald was the lead firm in a joint venture with Coyne et Bellier of France that supervised the plant's design and construction, provided project, commercial and quality management services, and assisted with the delivery of commissioning. With all works having to be completed in little over three years, the schedule was intense and relentless.
Mark Gill MBA BSc DIS CEng FICE MAPM
Mark is a Senior Project Manager with Mott MacDonald who started his engineering career in Structural Steel in Northern Ireland. He went to Nepal for a one year's experience in 1983 and left only in 2013. During that time, he worked on hydro projects from 1kW to 60MW, living in remote areas of the Himalaya up to 4 days walk from the nearest road. He founded the ICE group in Nepal and was a lead reviewer for ICE South Asia.
In addition to hydro, Mark has served in other development roles in Hospitals, Schools, Disabled Children's Centres and wider economic development. After joining the hydro team in Mott MacDonald's Brighton office in 2013, he was appointed Owner's Engineer Representative and Team Leader for the Banja HPP.