US$7,1 billion to address Zesa power shortages

14 Nov, 2021 - 00:11 0 Views
US$7,1 billion to address Zesa power shortages Dr Sydney Gata

The Sunday News

Harare Bureau
INCESSANT power cuts  bedeviling the country are a passing phase, as power utility Zesa Holdings will invest US$7,1 billion in the next 10 years to simultaneously address current challenges and invest in the long term.

Existing power shortages are being caused by recurrent electric faults due to ageing infrastructure, particularly at Hwange Power Station, a situation that has left customers to endure long periods of load shedding across Zimbabwe.
As of Friday, Zesa was generating a paltry 1 095 Mega Watts (MW) against a demand of 2 030 MW with Hwange

Power Station being the most underperforming, having lost most of its units to faults.

Partly, the current shortages were predicted beforehand, due to Covid-19 disruptions and other factors. Zimbabwe is not the only country in Southern Africa facing electricity shortages with Zambia and South Africa also affected.

Explaining the power situation and the interventions that the power utility is implementing, Zesa executive chairman  Dr Sydney Gata on Friday told our Harare Bureau:
“In addition to ageing infrastructure, the obtaining electricity shortage in the country is being caused by a combination of factors which include a non-cost reflective tariff, a high debtors book and liquidity challenges.”
Dr Gata said Zesa was working on the solutions.

“ZPC (Zimbabwe Power Company) is currently implementing a number of projects to increase the supply capacity and meet the demand. The projects portfolio includes a mix of thermal, hydro and solar power plants to be implemented to meet the Vision 2030 national goal of an upper-middle-income economy. Apart from the green field projects, ZPC is also refurbishing its existing plants which are now old.”

Dr Gata said Zesa was also undertaking interventions such as the intensification of prepaid metering and smart metering installation to enhance revenue collection as well as network rehabilitation programmes. While the power utility is working round the clock to ease the immediate challenges, the future bodes well for Hwange Power Station, as next year, an additional 600 megawatts are going to be added to units 7 and 8, which are currently almost 80 percent complete, will be up and running.

Part of the US$7,1 billion will be allocated to address current faults affecting the country’s major power stations, as the utility looks to replace ageing infrastructure but the bulk of the kitty will be allocated to 12 new power generation projects in the next decade.

According to Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP), limited maintenance during Covid-19 lockdowns compounded by the logistical challenges of bringing in spares also contributed to frequent power outages in the region.

SAPP Executive Director Mr Stephen Dihwa, however, said his organisation was coordinating efforts to improve the power situation in SADC. He said countries in the SAPP are looking to commission up to 10 000 MW in the next three years.

“A total of 2,480 MW  of generation capacity was commissioned in the SADC Region in 2020 contributed by Angola, DRC, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania,” he said.

Several projects including the Harare and Bulawayo Thermal Stations repowering, as well as Hwange Life Extension, are some of the major projects that Zesa is working on. The new projects will increase electricity generating capacity from the current 2280  MW to about 5177 MW by the year 2030.

Another 2400 megawatts is expected to be added to the national grid, as a result of the construction of the US$ 4, 6 billion Batoka Hydro Power Station, expected to commence in the next two years.

In the long term, Zesa is also working with its Zambian counterpart for the Zambezi-Kafue (10 Gorges) Hydro Power Projects which have a potential of 14 000 MW. Most of Zimbabwe’s power stations have outlasted their lifespan with some of the infrastructure commissioned as far back as 1957, hence the need for constant repairs.

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