Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) surpassed the third quarter electricity generation target by 7.69% after having sent out a total of 2,203GWh, which was a general improvement. But, in mid-September this year, Zimbabwe’s power utility company imposed load shedding schedules lasting up to 12 hours.
This comes as industrialists say ongoing power-generation issues could be a drag on growth in Zimbabwe.
The southern African nation’s installed electricity generating capacity is about 2 210 MW, of which 1 050 MW is from the Kariba South hydro power station and the balance is derived from several coal-fired power stations, the largest of which is Hwange, with installed capacity of 920 MW.
In recent years, Zimbabwe’s actual generating capacity has been lower than the installed capacity due to low water levels at Kariba and lack of maintenance at the power stations.
The country needs an average power demand of about 1735MW, but the power utility company’s total power supply currently ranges from 1240MW to 1600MW. This means the power average deficit is 145-500MW depending on imports availability and local generation performance. Zimbabwe imports power from South Africa’s power utility Escom and Mozambique’s Hydro Cahora Bassa (HCB).
In Q3 2021, Kariba Power Station contributed 64% of the total energy production, with 5% exported to Nam Power. Hwange Power Station supplied 33% and the small thermals 3%.
“Generation was constrained at thermal stations mainly because of low plant availability caused by aged plant,” stated ZPC in its quarterly report.
As at the end of Q3 2021 Kariba Power Station had utilised 17.645Bm3 of water leaving 3.355Bm3 for generation for the rest of the year. Zambezi River Authority allocated 30Bm3 to Kariba North and Kariba South Power Stations for generation in 2021. Kariba South Power Station had an annual water allocation of 15Bm3, which corresponds to an annual average capacity of 381MW.
However, the water allocation was later reviewed to 42Bm3 which translates to 21Bm3 per utility. This increased the Annual Average Capacity from 381MW to 550MW. The lake level dropped from 482.70m at the beginning of the quarter to 480.93m at the end of September 2021. This represented a 1.77m decrease in lake level over the quarter. The lake level at the end of the same quarter last year was 479.85m.
The Hwange Expansion Project continues to progress well, having commenced the third quarter at 67.97% and closing at 72.18%, according to ZPC.
“The project is however behind schedule due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic which resulted in low levels of manpower on site as a result of travel restrictions.”
ZPC has also made headway on the Deka Upgradation Project.
“The Contractor has mobilized to site to commence the project, with equipment at ports of entry to Zimbabwe and setting up of the contractors’ camp and other preparations for construction in progress,” it said.
Stringing of the new transmission and distribution line from Hwange to Sherwood substation under the Expansion Project commenced in July 2021, and a distance of approximately 120km out of 360km has been covered to date – Harare