Load shedding will be a thing of the past


The Sunday Mail

POWER supplies have improved significantly over the last few weeks following the commissioning of two new units at the Hwange Thermal Power Station, which will ultimately add 600 megawatts (MW) to the grid. The Sunday Mail’s DEBRA MATABVU (DM) spoke to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) Holdings consultant (international business), ENGINEER CLETUS NYACHOWE (CN), on this and other issues.


DM: What short-to medium-term measures are you putting in place to guarantee stable power supply in the country?

CN: You are aware that we already have Units 7 and 8 at the Hwange Thermal Power Station that have been synchronised and are undergoing commissioning.

In total, these units produce 600 megawatts (MW).

Engineer Nyachowe

They will provide some relief to power consumers while we refurbish Units 1 to 6.

You may also be aware that ZESA is looking at working with independent power producers (IPPs), who are generating power from solar.

We will be accelerating this programme over the next few years so that we harvest more energy from our solar through IPPs.

DM: We also understand that there is a plan to repurpose ZESA’s smaller thermal power stations such as Munyati, Harare and Bulawayo. Take us through what that programme entails.

CN: These small thermal power stations are our oldest power generation assets.

They are 70 years old, or over, in some cases.

These stations have become very expensive to run.

You will note that all of them are quite some distance away from our source of coal, which is Hwange.

Consequently, by the time the fuel, which is coal, gets to these power stations, which have very limited output because of the old machines, the whole exercise becomes very pricey.

With the coming in of Units 7 and 8 at Hwange, we have had a relook at these small thermal stations.

We have concluded that refurbishing them in their current form will not yield commercial operation.

So, what is required now is called repurposing.

This is where we onboard new power generation technologies and use new fuels to generate power.

For instance, we have an option of repurposing the stations to use gas.

We are looking at working with the private sector to facilitate the repurposing and not to just refurbish them in their current form.

DM: The Kariba South Power Station has been generating around 900MW per day over the last few weeks. Do you not run the risk of using up Zimbabwe’s entire water allocation before year-end?

CN: The Zambezi River Authority, which manages water in Kariba Dam and allocates a certain amount of water to ZPC (Zimbabwe Power Company) and ZESCO of Zambia for power generation, has given us the latitude to vary our power output from Kariba on condition that our overall water condition is maintained within its set limits.

Another point you may want to note is that when you see us generating between 800MW and 892MW at Kariba, that power output is probably on for an hour or less.

During the day, it is regulated up and down as and when required.

So, normally, that maximum output is only generated during peak demand periods.

We are operating Kariba very carefully and within our water limits.

DM: The Government has set an ambitious wheat production target for the current winter season, which requires a significant amount of power to attain. Does ZESA have enough power to guarantee uninterrupted supply to farmers this winter season?

CN: The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development and associated farmer organisations work very closely with our subsidiary, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC).

All our strategic planning with regard to winter wheat production is done through our subsidiary.

What we can say is that even before planting of the wheat commenced, there were very extensive consultations among all stakeholders, and ZESA pledged to support the winter wheat programme.

The farmers have confidence in our pledge and have delivered
by planting on the targeted hectarage.

Initially, we had problems with electricity supply countrywide but, as you can see, the situation has greatly improved.

Now, we do not have any form of load shedding affecting wheat farmers.

We have also increased our level of support, in terms of rapid response to reports of faults.

Farming communities have set up groups that communicate directly with key persons within the utility.

So, farmers are getting the energy they need and irrigating as they wish.

We expect increased output from their fields.

DM: Last year, Zimbabwe secured a US$310 million loan to fund the renovation of Units 1-6 at Hwange. Can you outline the progress you have made regarding that project?

CN: To enable disbursement of the US$310 million, the lenders would like to know the exact scope of the work that needs to be done, and that comes in the form of a detailed project report (DPR).

So, ZESA, together with our consultant, the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), have produced that DPR, which has been submitted to the financiers and they are looking at it.

Once the report has been cleared, then disbursement will start.

However, as ZESA and ZPC, we have been proactive; even before the disbursement of that US$310 million, we have started the refurbishment programme, with Unit 5 already undergoing an overhaul.

Work has already started using our internal resources and we should be through with the first unit during the third quarter of 2024.

To give a bit of detail on this refurbishment process, once it starts, we will be taking out one unit at a time.

It will take an average of five to six months to refurbish each unit over a period of five to six years.

So, you can see, it is quite an extensive project, which will not be finished in the short-term, but will proceed over five to six years.

DM: Can you outline progress made on development of the Deka pipeline project?

CN: There has been a lot of progress that has been registered on this project, which entails setting up two pipelines to the Hwange Thermal Power Station.

The project is now 95 percent complete.

We are quite happy with the progress.


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