Felex Share Senior Reporter
President Emmerson Mnangagwa will commission Unit 7 of the Kariba South extension project, with Energy and Power Development Minister Simon Khaya Moyo saying the development was a New Year present to Zimbabweans. Minister Khaya Moyo said Unit 7, which will add 150 megawatts to the national grid, was undergoing performance and reliability test runs. The tests, he said, would end on Monday.
“On December 24, 2017 the Kariba South Extension Project achieved a significant milestone in that Unit 7 was successfully connected to the national power grid. The commissioning of Unit 7 involved tests on turbine, the generator, the unit auxiliaries, the generator transformer and the new switch yard which were done as separate units at low voltages of about 50MW,” Minister Khaya Moyo said.
“This started in November 2017 and was completed on 24 December, 2017. All the units were switched on combined generating at Unit 7’s design capacity of 150MW and this started on 26 December, 2017. As it stands, the said unit is undergoing a seven-day performance and reliability test run which will be completed on 1 January, 2018.”
On the commissioning, Minister Khaya Moyo said: “The commissioning of Unit 7 will take place as soon as the President’s heavy schedule permits. It will indeed be commissioned by His Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa. This development is indeed a New Year present to the people of Zimbabwe. We are very excited.”
Minister Khaya Moyo said Unit 7 would be available for “dispatch” after the completion of test runs.
“Thereafter, the Unit will be available for dispatch, adding 150 MW capacity into the national power grid. The Kariba South Extension Project, which began on 10 November 2014 as a ZimAsset initiative under the Infrastructure and Utilities Cluster is anticipated to be completed in March 2018 with the entry of Unit 8 onto the national power grid,” he said.
The project is being undertaken by Sinohydro, a Chinese State-owned hydro-power engineering and construction company. The project will significantly increase Zimbabwe’s internal generating capacity, curtailing power imports which have seen the country parting with millions of dollars monthly.
Zesa is importing about 350MW from neighbouring countries. The power utility getting 300MW from Eskom of South Africa and owes the firm about $50 million. Zesa is clearing the debt in instalments and the process is taking long since the power utility is also servicing current supplies.
The country needs about 1 400MW for industrial and domestic use per day, but is generating around 900MW, with the balance being covered by imports. Apart from the Kariba South expansion project, Zesa is refurbishing its power stations, while also working on another expansion project in Hwange.