#EDELIVERS SECOND REPUBLIC MILESTONES : Repowering of Hwange to boost power generation

THE Government is stepping up the repowering of Hwange Units One to Six as part of efforts to find a lasting solution to the electricity problem in the country and is working on funding modalities as well as courting local and foreign investors interested in redoing the units.

This comes amid subdued power generation capacity at Kariba Power Station which has been caused by a decline in water levels.

An update by the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) last week revealed that the volume of water in Lake Kariba has been steadily decreasing due to low inflow and reduced rainfall activity on and around the lake.

ZRA noted that the usable live storage volume is 8,8 billion cubic metres (bcm) which is way lower than the 13,9bcm that was available during the same period last year.

Commenting on the developments and their effects on electricity generation in the country, the Minister of Energy and Power Development, Edgar Moyo, said the Government was aware of the subdued power generation at Kariba and was putting measures in place to ensure electricity was available.

He said while they complied with the ZRA allocation, the Government was working on funding modalities to repower Hwange Units One to Six for it to realise its full potential which is 920 megawatts.

Minister Moyo said the six units which were commissioned between 1983 and 1987 have seen their equipment aging and were frequently breaking down and compromising power generation.

“We are keeping to the limit of the water allocation as given by the ZRA which is eight billion cubic metres allocated to Zimbabwe and the same to Zambia. This allows us to generate about 214 megawatts which is way below our installed capacity at Kariba which is 1 050 megawatts.

“What it means is that we have lost 800 megawatts capacity which is almost 50 percent of our requirement as a nation.

“We now have low generation at Kariba but not all is lost because we continue to conduct refurbishments and repairs on Units One to Six to improve the capacity at Hwange Thermal Power Station.

“The repairs are temporary, they keep us going, but the long-term solution is to re-do or repower them so that they reach their full potential. By repowering, we mean that we will be installing new equipment,” said Minister Moyo.

He said several investors have expressed interest in taking up the project but could not give the timelines saying they were subject to the availability of funds.

“We cannot give specific timelines. Currently, we are working on the funding. You will be aware that these are huge projects which require capital injection which we may not have the capacity to provide. We are also exploring funding through partnerships with local companies if they express interest. It is an open programme; it’s not confined to a specific funder. Whatever comes and suits our purpose it will be done.

“Several investors have also expressed interest, they have come to inspect and we still await their feedback in terms of taking up those units. Two weeks back, we had investors coming from China. This came after I led a delegation to China in January scouting for investments in the different sectors of the energy sector and the company which came two weeks ago  expressed interest. It made a follow-up visit to come and see the Hwange Power plant and other projects.

“They also want to do 200 megawatts of solar. So it is an ongoing thing that we continue to engage, explore and once we sign a deal, you will be advised,” said Minister Moyo.

Herald

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