Golden Sibanda Senior Business Reporter
The Zimbabwe Power Company can sustain power generation at the revised permissible level of 285 megawatts after Zambezi River Authority reduced water allocation for the utility’s Kariba Power Station. Zesa Holdings generation unit downgraded output from the previous production level of 475 megawatts to the current average of 285MW after ZRA reduced allocation due to falling water levels in lake Kariba.
Two power utilities generate power on the Zambezi River, ZPC on southern bank and ZESCO of Zambia on the Northern bank and at the current generation levels, the lake level falls 0,5 cm to 1 cm per day.
ZRA regulates activities on the Zambezi River, which feeds into Lake Kariba, from which the power utilities have their hydro power stations, which are also their biggest and most reliable power plants.
ZRA chief executive Mr Munyaradzi Munodawafa said while it was not expected that there would be much improvement in the lake water level this year, current generation level can be maintained until the next rains.
“The situation is still not good; the situation we have is very bad. The current trend is slightly above what we experienced in 1995 where the lake levels went worse than what we currently have.
However, in 1995 there wasn’t much generation than what we are having that is why we were at least not worried.
“However graphs are going up in terms of the water flow upstream of the Zambezi River, like in Chavuma we have about 2000 cubic metres per second of water passing and flowing across into the Zambezi River from the Angolan side flowing into Zambia.
“That water has to pass through the Barotse plains. But the Barotse were very thirsty and all that water is being gabbed in the plains and when the plains are satisfied they will release the remainder.
It is expected that the Kariba Lake water levels will increase by at least 1,3 metres this year in addition to the 1,6 metres level, which is the remaining head between the lake level and minimum level at which generation on Kariba can be sustained, although the lake will still have vast amounts of water.
“We are doing 285 megawatts today because of low water levels in the dam,” Kenneth Maswera, general manager for Kariba Power Station.
“This level was last seen in 1992. We didn’t shut down the stations we only reduced our consumption. Water flows come in between March and May, but for now there are no significant inflows”
“We are using 0,51cm to 1 centimetre of water per day. In the worst scenario that we don’t get any inflow, this will give us an extra 165 days, but once the inflows come in, we would last for another year”
ZESA spokesman and stakeholder relations manager Fullard Gwasira said rather than waiting for water inflows to improve and lake water levels to rise to increase generation, interventions have been put in place to stabilise generation and import power.
“It’s a fact that we don’t have enough water, but we’ve put in place interventions to import 300 mega watts from Eskom. We are pre-paying $6,5 million to Eskom for the power imports” Mr Gwasira said
Mr Gwasira also said that negotiations were ongoing with Lusefwa of Zambia for additional imports of 56MW to commence in August as well as 40MW from EDM of Mozambique to augment the power that is being produced by local power plant.
He said revenue collection measures had been put in place, for supply side management, to make sure availability of financial resources to purchase the power. “In January, we collected $24 million from the prepaid platform and this to a large extent has made funding available”
“We are also negotiating to import 40 mega watts from EDM and from Aug, we will be getting an additional 56 mega watts from Lusefwa in Zambia” All these interventions and the current power supply situation can only be sustained given a tariff increase.