‘Zim to export electricity by 2018’

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ZIMBABWE will be a net exporter of electricity by 2018 with current power cuts a thing of the past as the country intensifies efforts to increase power generation, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Energy and Power Development Minister Samuel Undenge last week told journalists in Harare that a combination of initiatives which includes re-powering small thermal stations, introduction of diesel-powered generators and solar generation is expected to produce 720 MW in the next two years.
The 720 MW is over and above the additional 300 MW Kariba South Extension and the 600 MW Hwange units 7 and 8 are producing.
“We have other ongoing projects such as Kariba South Extension which will bring in 300 MW. We expect those units to come on stream in 2018,” said Dr Undenge.
“But again there is the issue of water levels at Kariba Dam. Hwange (units) 7 and 8, we are now at financial closure stage. It will bring 600 MW but it is a medium to long-term project as it will take four years to complete.”
In addition, he said the feasibility study for the 2 400 MW Batoka Hydro Power Plant on the Zambezi River is expected to be complete by June this year.
“This will be shared equally between Zimbabwe and Zambia,” he said.
“The conclusion of the feasibility study will pave way for the next phase of procuring the contractors and securing funding.”
Work to re-power small thermal power stations, which are expected to add more than 220 MW, is expected to start soon while a further 200 MW is expected from the diesel-powered generators in the next two months.
“We have re-powering projects which are ongoing at the three thermal stations. The Bulawayo station was built in 1947, so the machinery is very old. It needs new components and once that is done we will have an additional 70 MW from Bulawayo Thermal Power Station,” Dr Undenge said.
“We have Munyati Thermal Power Station which is due for re-powering.
“Once it is re-powered it will bring in another 60 MW. We have another Bulawayo station which had been closed and will bring in 90 MW.
“The re-powering of the three small thermals would add 220 MW in two to three years,” he said.
“At least for the Bulawayo Thermal Station there is some progress because Zimbabwe secured US$87 million from India so the tendering process is being done in India for Indian companies.”
The project will take 24 months to complete.
The tender for Harare was won by a company called Jaguar Overseas who are now working on the financial side to kick-start the project.
The Harare re-powering project will cost US$70,2 million with 85 percent of the cost funded by India’s Exim Bank.
The project will be completed in 24 months adding
90 MW to the national grid.
He said the fourth project, the Mutare Emergency Peaking plant, would add 120 MW to the national grid.
The project cost would be slightly over US$92 million and the tender was won by Helcro Electrical, he said, adding construction was expected to take 18 months.
“We also have the three solar projects in Gwanda, Munyati and Insukamini which have been awarded and will produce a combined 300 MW. These will come on stream two years from now,” he said.
In addition to Government initiated projects, Undenge said there were several projects that were being undertaken by private players to boost power generation in the country.
He said these projects would go a long way in ameliorating the current power shortages.
These include the 600 MW China Africa Sunlight Energy plant at the confluence of Gwayi-Shangani rivers, the 600 MW plant at Lisulu Thermal Power Station in Binga and the recently concluded 600 MW Lubu Thermal Power Station at Binga, which will involve Sable Mine and CITIC company from China.
Zimbabwe needs about 2 200 MW of electricity but it is currently generating 975 MW.
Low water levels at Lake Kariba have resulted in output at Kariba Hydro Power Station dropping from 730 MW to an average 285 MW while recurrent breakdowns at Hwange Thermal Power Station have seen the plant operating at below half of its capacity.
“So we have to fill the power generation gap through importing power from neighbouring countries and through the introduction of diesel generators for 200 MW at Dema substation,” said Dr Undenge.

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