1000MW hydro plant set for Zambezi Devil’s Gorge

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Tinashe Makichi
Government is planning to develop a 1 000 megawatts (MW) hydro power plant at the Devil’s Gorge along the Zambezi River in Victoria Falls.

The project will complement the $6 billion Batoka Gorge power project which Zimbabwe is undertaking together with Zambia.

Energy and Power Development permanent secretary Partson Mbiriri said the country is prioritising power projects to make sure there is enough for power for different sectors of the economy.

“As we move forward it is important that we look at cheaper forms of power and this is why on our programmes we are prioritising Batoka which will give us 1200 megawatts at 3 cents/kwh. After Batoka we are looking at working on the Devil’s Gorge again along the Zambezi,” said Mbiriri.

According to the Zambezi River Authority the proposed Devils Gorge Hydro-electric Scheme is located at the tail end of Kariba Dam, justdownstreamof the Gwayi/Zambezi Rivers confluence.

The earliest detailed studies of the potential of the site for hydro-power development were undertaken by Merz and MacLellan and Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners in 1972; entitled “Power Developments on the Zambezi”. Subsequently, the Batoka Joint Venture Consultants, led by Knight Piesold, undertook further studies in 1992/93 entitled “Batoka Gorge Hydroelectric Scheme Feasibility Studies”, during which the Devils’ Gorge scheme was looked at in greater detail.

Current efforts to address the power situation by Zimbabwe is driven by rising demand for power and calls from industry for Government to reduce the current power tariff.
Chrome smelting companies have been at the forefront, advocating for a sustainable power tariff of around 4 cents from 6, 3 cents.

Mbiriri said Government is however pursuing cheaper sources of power generation as there is no room for power tariff reduction for chrome smelting companies at the moment.
Chrome smelting companies who are currently paying around 6, 3 cents are also pushing for a commodity price linked tariff to ensure growth of the sector.

He said the 4 cents tariff which chrome smelting companies are advocating for is not feasible and adopting a commodity linked pricing structure will leave Zesa Holdings with an egg on its face.

“On chrome smelters, we have tried to adjust to the practically possible charge. Our tariff at the moment is at 6, 3 cents. Chrome smelters would want it to be at 4 cents but it is not feasible at the moment. Going forward we hope the situation will improve. “Commodity linked price, as all developing economies will concede, our primary products have a fluctuating price up to day and down tomorrow. Each time we tried to use commodity linked price, it has left Zesa with an egg on its face,” said Mbiriri.

“At the moment we sit on number three in the region as one of the countries with higher tariffs and we need to do better going forward. When you blend your 3 cents with 6 cents from thermal power stations you will end up with a competitive tariff,” he said.

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