The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
THE imminent rehabilitation of Bulawayo Thermal Power Station is expected to play an immense contribution to the downstream industries, an official said.
In an interview with Sunday News Business after a tour of Bulawayo Power Station by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Energy and Power Development last week, power plant manager Engineer Tom Chuma said the latest technology known as the Circulating Fluidised Bed Combustion (CFBC), which entails the use of limestone as a sorbent of emissions was expected to play a huge part in the growth of various industries across the country’s economic sectors.
“We are negotiating limestone supply agreements because the plant will be using the CFBC technology, which requires the use of limestone. So we are negotiating with PPC and the negotiations are at an advanced stage in terms of supply of limestone, which we are going to be using for the plant,” he said.
Limestone would be used as a sorbent to control emissions from the plant. Circulating fluidised bed is a relatively new technology with the ability to achieve lower emission of pollutants. Extensive research has been conducted on this technology in the past 15 years due to increasing concerns over pollution caused by traditional methods of combusting coal and its sustainability. The importance of this technology has grown recently because of tightened environmental regulations for pollutant emission.
“Use of the CFBC technology will enable us to comply with Ema (Environmental Management Agency) regulations on emission in line with climate change regulations. It helps to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions,” said Eng Chuma.
He said the CFBC process will culminate in the production of gypsum, which is used in the production of fertilisers as well as in the manufacturing of bricks and tiles.
“The CFBC combustion processes results in the formation of gypsum, which can go on to be used in the fertiliser industry including the production of other products such as bricks and tiles and in a way this will be value addition because at the present moment we are just throwing away the ash (realised through the process we are using at the moment). We will also be able to use poor quality grade of coal through use of the CFBC technology, which will mean reduction in cost of production,” said Eng Chuma.
He said the rehabilitation and repowering process would see the plant being non-functioning for two years.
“We expect the plant to be out for 24 months . . . it takes time to construct boilers and other various infrastructures, it takes time and we will also have some of the machinery going to India for refurbishment . . . ,” said Eng Chuma.
The rehabilitation work would see the demolition of cooling towers and part of the plant. He said the company has already carried out an Environmental Impact Assessment, surveys and signed water supply agreement with the Bulawayo City Council.
He said the power station was facing operational challenges which were making it difficult to operate at full capacity.
“We have only one available 30 megawatts (MW) turbine and three serviceable boilers, while the other two are awaiting critical spares so that we have five boilers in total. Our generation levels are therefore being suppressed. The installed capacity for the power station is 90MW and currently we’re producing about 25MW.”
ZPC was allocated $87 million from India-Exim Bank for the repowering project in 2015 and the financial institution recently extended an additional $23 million line of credit.