Hwange Unit 7 testing in final stages Hwange Expansion Project successfully completed the rolling of steam turbines of Unit 7 on November 15, 2022 for the first time.

Business Reporter
THE commissioning of Unit 7 at the Hwange Thermal Power Plant is “almost complete,” with engineers now finalising works on the protection system that allows evacuation of power to the grid, Energy and Power Development Minister, Zhemu Soda, said yesterday.

Commercial production was initially expected to start at the end of December 2022.

But there were challenges in mobilising technicians from the Chinese company, ABB, to conduct the testing on the evacuation protection system following the resurgence of Covid -19 in the Asian country.

“The testing of the power plant was done and passed,” said Minister Soda in an interview. “We are only left with the testing of the protection system that allows for the evacuation of power to the transmission system and a team from China only came into the country during mid-December when we initially expected them in November.

“There was also a delay in them understanding all the systems; we are now expecting them to complete the test in three weeks and to have the plant run by end of this month.”

Unit seven will produce 300MW and unit eight, to be commissioned later in this quarter will also have the same capacity.

“We don’t expect to take much longer to commission unit eight because we have learnt many lessons from the current unit,” said the Minister.

After the commissioning of the Hwange 7 & 8, Zesa intends to start major rehabilitation of the existing units to restore their capacity to 930 MW. Already, the Government has secured US$310 million from the Export-Import Bank of India for the exercise.

The rehabilitation will be done in phases.

The Government contracted Sino-Hydro to fund the expansion of Hwange in a deal worth US$1,2 billion.

On the power supply situation, Minister Soda said the power utility successfully negotiated for additional imports from EDM of Mozambique for 100 MW and 200 MW from Eskom of South Africa through the Southern Africa Power Pool.

ZESA also ramped up production at Hwange thermal plant and after bringing online two more units. The plant is currently producing an average of 440 megawatts.

There was also an improvement of power supplies from mini-hydro plant due to improved rains received so far.

In a related development, Green Fuel recently started supplying 8MW onto the grid from power generated at the ethanol production plant.

“We are hoping to get more water allocation for Kariba hydroelectric plant after the review of the hydrological situation at Kariba Dam on 15 January,” said Minister Soda.

Late last year, the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), which manages Kariba Dam, ordered ZESA to stop production at the Kariba Hydroelectric Plant because of low usable water levels.

Kariba is the country’s largest power plant, with the capacity of producing 1 050 MW and has been the most reliable energy source. Hwange thermal plant, the country’s second-largest plant has become so unreliable because most of its equipment is obsolete.

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