Michael Tome Business Reporter
HWANGE Power Station units 7 and 8 expansion project, launched by President Mnangagwa at the beginning of August this year, has commenced with a number of civil works now underway.
The project will cost $1,48 billion and is expected to deliver an additional 600 megawatts; 300W from each unit, on top of the average of 450MW the old power station is currently able to generate.
Hwange power station has installed power generation capacity of 920MW, but is only able to churn out 450-500MW due to the advanced age status of the power plant, which was built in the early 80s.
The new project encompasses construction of a 600MW base-load power plant and high voltage transmission lines spanning over 350 kilometres from Hwange to Insukamini and Marvel sub-stations in Bulawayo.
The scheme is one Zimbabwe’s power projects financed under a loan facility from China Export Import Bank. State power utility Zesa Holdings, through its generation arm, is implementing the project.
ZESA spokesperson Fullard Gwasira told The Herald Business that initial construction works were already taking shape particularly geo-technical surveys and excavations for the main power island buildings.
“Works in progress include the construction of campsites, project offices, detailed geo-technical investigations, excavations for boiler and turbine house, setting out of the transmission lines, excavations for the sub stations and finalisation of detailed,” said Mr Gwasira.
As a result of the developments evacuation of families whose places of residence fall under construction sites has already started. Consequently, ZESA’s power generation unit, the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) will resettle the affected households especially those situated along transmission lines.
“ZPC is also implementing the Resettlement Action Plan for all people affected by the new transmission lines and we recently completed extensive consultations with key stakeholders and affected parties,” he said.
With a projected duration of 42 months from 1 August this year, the Hwange expansion project demonstrates government’s drive to spur economic growth through implementation of infrastructure projects.
The project will result in massive socio-economic transformation through increased power supply to the mining, agricultural and manufacturing sectors and has to date created about 260 jobs at the Hwange site while a further 4 000 people from surrounding communities will get jobs.
Zimbabwe is draining limited foreign currency reserves through electricity imports, hence the need to prop up local power generation.