ELECTRICITY supply is set to improve countrywide starting this week following the full restoration of power generation at Hwange Power Station, a Cabinet minister has said.
This follows erratic power supply and load-shedding of up to seven hours daily that had been witnessed in different parts of the country over the past few weeks.
Since August 10, engineers have been hard at work at Hwange Power Station to repair a technical fault that resulted in the loss of 440MW at Zimbabwe’s largest thermal power plant.
The fault at Hwange had resulted in a significant deficit of power supply to the national grid, triggering outrage from domestic consumers and the business sector, which said the shortages were encumbering production.
However, Energy and Power Development Minister Zhemu Soda on Friday told The Sunday Mail that power generation at Hwange had been restored to about 450MW capacity daily, taking national generation capacity per day to over 1 500MW.
“We did not have such a critical shortage as some are saying because despite having challenges at Hwange, our other stations, coupled with imports, have been performing very well,” he said.
“But we are set to witness a significant improvement in power supply from next (this) week going forward because we have recovered from the faults at Hwange.”
Minister Soda said the Government was ready to source more imports whenever there were major faults that affected the national grid.
Zimbabwe’s mainly imports power from South Africa and Mozambique.
Said Minister Soda: “Following the repairs, Hwange now has the capacity to generate 450 MW, Kariba is generating over 1000 MW while small thermal stations and imports are complementing these figures to take us past 1500 MW which is more or less what we need per day. If there are areas that are still being affected by severe shortages, then it may be faults or maintenance exercises going on. I would also want to invite those affected by faults to make reports to the power utility.”
According to the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), the country was generating a combined total of 1269 MW as at Friday.
Kariba had the highest output at 890 MW followed by Hwange at 337 MW. Bulawayo, Munyati and Harare power stations weighed in with 18 MW, 13 MW and 11 MW respectively.
Independent Power Producers also continue to contribute varying amounts of electricity to the national grid.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president, Mr Kurai Matsheza, appealed to the Government to address the power situation saying outages were affecting business at a time when the economy is gaining momentum.
“Electricity shortages are affecting business in a major way because power is a major component in production,” he said.
“We have members who operate on a 24-hour basis and electricity shortages mean low production or high costs of production. So we would like our Government to look into this because it’s affecting business at a time when our economy is on the rebound.”
Despite intermittent power shortages, the future is bright for Zimbabwe’s power sector with the country poised to be self-sufficient in terms of its power requirements as a number of new projects are taking shape.
China’s Sinohydro is currently constructing the Hwange Power Station 7 and 8 units, which are expected to be complete next year and will add 600MW to the grid.
Another 2 400MW project Batoka is being jointly pursued with Zambia and is expected to take off in the next few years.
Furthermore, a number of coal and coal-bed methane projects, predominantly in Hwange, will add up to 2000 megawatts into the national grid in the next few years.
(The Sunday Mail)