HARARE – The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) requires over $35 million for machine overhaul in its thermal power stations to improve output and efficiency.
This comes after the country continues to import over 35 percent of the required electricity from South Africa and Mozambique at a time when some of the thermal stations are broken down.
Daily national consumption is 1 400MW in summer and 1 600MW in winter but the country has only been managing 1 000MW, relying on imports to bridge the deficit.
In a statement Zesa said:
“Capital investment in the energy sector has not been keeping pace with the growth in demand over the years because of lack of funds.
“We have the electricity challenges as some existing electricity generating plants are not being used to full capacity because of the breakdowns – equipment is ageing and lacks adequate maintenance.
“An improvement of the output of thermal power stations, which are currently operating well below their design capacities due to lack of maintenance and lack of coal, would improve electricity supply in the country.
“This would require approximately $35 million and takes up to 18 months to complete the machine overhauls.”
The continuous breakdowns have seen the country spending extra $1 million on imports monthly, the 68MW decrease in electricity generation and increased load shedding across the country.
The demand for electricity continues to outstrip available supply at all times as Hwange Thermal Station’s electricity generation has dropped from 300MW last year to 285MW due to a number of breakdowns at the station.
Zesa highlighted that load shedding will mainly be done in the morning and evening due to the nature of demand during those periods.
“This is mainly due to the increase in the domestic load during these periods due to meal preparation, water heating, lighting and the switching on of appliances such as TVs, radios, computers, fans, heaters, etc.
“When demand exceeds supply, some customers have to be switched off or shed to balance supply and demand.”
For the short term solution solutions Zesa is calling for energy efficiency improvement which entails a sustained decrease in the amount of energy consumed per unit of industrial production without compromising the quantity and quality.
Besides conserving energy efficiency improvement results in cost competitiveness of Zesa products and services.
The other method that the power utility is employing is demand side management which is a process whereby an electricity supplier influences the way electricity is used by customers resulting in customer bill reduction and release of additional capacity for to meet requirements of all customers.
Under this method Zesa encourages consumers to switch off geysers, stoves and ovens when they are not using them.
Despite these encouragements Zesa merely depends on the high rate of electricity consumption in order to get as much revenues as they can be able to recover the consumers’ debt of close to $1 billion.
As for long term solutions in ensuring the increased power generation, credit lines for upgrades and new power stations were secured from China, the African Development Bank, the World Bank, India’s Export-Import Bank, the European Union and the Zimbabwe Multi-Donor Trust.
Zesa said work on Kariba Hydro, Hwange Thermal and smaller power stations was on course.
“The extension of Kariba South Hydro Power Station by two units (300MW) is now almost 60 percent complete, with the first unit being expected to contribute 150MW to the national electricity grid by December 2017.
“The other unit is expected to contribute a further 150MW to the grid by March 2018 in fulfilment of the ideals of the noble economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation, of achieving security of electricity supply through grid expansion and stability.
“The expansion project is progressing well, is on course and is going to be one of the milestone achievements of the power utility,” reads part of the Zesa statement.
Hwange expansion project is now on course and Zimbabwe Power Company and Sino Hydro are now working on the actual work on the ground.
The parties are now in the final negotiation stage, with financiers that include China Eximbank with the progressive intention of ensuring the project reaches its fruition in line with 2018 deadline.
The expansion project is expected to contribute 600MW to the national electricity grid, a development that will greatly narrow the demand-supply gap of electricity in Zimbabwe.