Oliver Kazunga Bulawayo Bureau
Zimbabwe requires an additional 9 000 megawatts of power to support economic activities that will drive the country towards achieving an upper middle-income economy by 2030, according to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, Dr Gloria Magombo.
At present, the country’s demand for power hovers around 2 000MW. However, due to ageing equipment, existing power plants are generating far below the national requirement. This has prompted Government to embark on extension works at its major power stations.
Hwange Power Station extension works, for instance, involves construction of Units 7 and 8, which would see the plant adding 600MW into the national grid.
This week, Zesa is expected to add 160MW to the national grid following the successful refurbishment of Unit 5 at Hwange, while a further 160MW from Unit 6 is expected within the next three months.
Unit 6 has been down since March.
Dr Magombo said meeting energy requirements was critical for attainment of Vision 2030.
“For us to meet the country’s energy requirements in line with the national vision of transforming Zimbabwe into an upper middle-income economy status by 2030, we need another 9 000MW. So, we have power projects that we have lined up to provide that difference,” she said.
Dr Magombo said at the moment the biggest setback facing Zimbabwe was the prevailing drought conditions that have led to low dam levels at Kariba Hydropower Station.
“Had it not been because of the drought, we couldn’t be talking of the existing load-shedding,” she said.
Dr Magombo said Government was in the process of expanding Hwange Thermal Power Station through the addition of Units 7 and 8 and the project would see an additional 600MW into the national grid by 2022.
She said Government has also lined up projects to re-power all the country’s three small thermal power stations namely Bulawayo, Munyati and Harare as part of an initiative to boost power generation in the economy.
“And soon after the expansion works at Hwange are completed, we are coming to Bulawayo Power Plant and already funding for the project has been secured as a soft loan from India EximBank,” she said.
Re-powering of Bulawayo Thermal Station will improve the plant’s generation capacity from 30MW at present to 90MW.
The power plant was built in 1947 with an installed capacity of 120MW but because of obsolete equipment its generation capacity has over the years plummeted. As of yesterday, the Zimbabwe Power Company indicated on its website that Bulawayo Power Station was not generating anything.
There is also the Batoka Gorge Electricity Project that the Government in partnership with Zambia is looking at developing. The Batoka project will generate 1 200MW.
Government has also licensed renewable energy projects such as solar by Independent Power Producers. The projects are at different stages of implementation across the country. This comes as Government recently said it was considering revoking licences of Independent Power Producers failing to kick-start their projects as it moves to reduce the power deficit grappling the country.
In an interview recently with Sunday News after a tour of Bulawayo Power Station last Friday Energy and Power Development Minister Advocate Fortune Chasi said there was a need to ensure that all the licensed power projects are started as soon as possible.
“We need to quickly advance the execution of projects by all those who are licensed. I have asked Zera (Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority) to examine the status of each licensed project to see exactly where we are with each of them. We need to understand if there are specific challenges each particular licensee is facing,” he said.
Adv Chasi said failure by any licensee to justify the reason for non-operating, the ministry would be compelled to revoke such a licence.
“If we are satisfied that there is unjustified pilgrimage around implementation of the projects then the necessary action will be taken. We cannot have a long list of licenses which are not productive.
“Everything has to be legal. The licensees must be given the right to explain themselves around the issue of non-performance because at the end of the day, we cannot hang onto people that keep licences for speculative purposes,” he said.
Zera has also expressed dismay at the rate at which most of the IPPs are taking to operationalise their projects as the country grapples to reduce its power deficit.
The energy regulator has to date licensed 61 IPPs with a combined capacity of contributing 6 671,886 megawatts (MW) to the national grid.
However, only 16 projects are operating contributing 131 276 (MW) to the grid.