Zimbabwe to grapple with power cuts for next 5 years

MugabeMugabe25 August 2013, Harare – ZIMBABWEANS will have to grapple with power cuts for the next five years, until the country completes new generation projects subject to availability of funding, the power generating parastatal said last week.

This comes at a time the power utility, Zesa, has intensified load-shedding as generation capacity is way behind the rising demand, knocking off the wheels of industrial revival.

In an update last week, Zesa’s subsidiary, the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), said the current total generation capacity of 1 530MW was inadequate to meet a demand of around 2 200MW.

ZPC generates electricity at its five power stations located in Kariba, Hwange, Munyati, Bulawayo and Hwange. The quintet has a combined installed capacity of 1 960MW.

ZPC said the power generation gap could be closed by new projects, which can only be completed in four years’ time, once funding has been secured. The power utility has been closing the gap through load-shedding and imports from regional utilities.

“However, because of severe electricity shortages in the region, we cannot import more and ZPC power output will only increase after the generation expansion projects have been completed by 2018 subject to availability of funding,” it said.

ZPC said it was facing challenges in raising adequate capital needed to maintain the existing plant, as well as building more capacity.

ZPC said it was working on electricity generation projects to close the gap between demand and supply, through ensuring that the existing plants operate at installed capacities and expanding Kariba and Hwange power stations to add 900MW.

Only the hydro project at Kariba is operating at installed capacity. Hwange Power Station is operating at 70% of its capacity. The situation is dire for the smaller thermal stations in Munyati, Bulawayo and Harare whose capacities range from 20% to 33%.

The expansion of Hwange and Kariba will cost an upward of US$1,6 billion.

In December, ZPC and Chinese firm, Sino Hydro, signed a contract for the engineering, procurement and construction of two units of 150MW each at Kariba South Power Station. The cost is US$354 million.

“Financial closure is expected to be reached by the end of September and the construction period of the project from the date of commencement is approximately 40 months,” ZPC said.

It said, the addition of two units at Hwange Power Station would generate 600MW, adding that construction would take four years from the date of financial closure.

– The Standard

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