$23 million for substations

AN African Development Bank managed fund is rehabilitating four local power substations with a capacity of generating, transmitting and distributing 324 megawatts of electricity to the national grid at a total cost of US$23 million.
Complete with modern circuit breakers that insulates them from blowing up, the biggest of the four is in Bulawayo. On completion, it will have a capacity of 140 megawatts. The other three are in Gweru, Mutare and Kwekwe.N African Development Bank managed fund is rehabilitating four local power substations with a capacity of generating, transmitting and distributing 324 megawatts of electricity to the national grid at a total cost of US$23 million.

The project, named the Emergency Power Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project, is divided into two phases.

Phase one saw the rehabilitation of seven substations at a cost of US$39, 61 million, including automating the Ash Plant at Hwange Power Station.

The current phase two is a follow up to this.

“We are rehabilitating four substations in phase two as a follow up to the seven we did in phase one,” said Mr Emmanuel Nzabanita of ZimFund, who runs the project on behalf of African Development Bank (AfDB).

“We are putting a huge transformer, with a capacity of 140 megawatts, at the Bulawayo substation and in some countries this is the biggest they have. We are also doing three more in Gweru, Mutare and Kwekwe.

“Very soon the grid will enjoy the benefits because work is ongoing at two of the sites which we expect to be complete by June this year,” said Mr Nzabanita.

“For those two (in Bulawayo and Gweru), the required transformers have already been purchased and are currently in Durban awaiting the requisite clearances while for the other two (in Mutare and Kwekwe), we are still at tendering stage but again we will be done with them in 2019,” he said.

The rehabilitated substations, according to ZimFund, will benefit a target population of about five million from areas like Harare, Gweru, Bulawayo, Kwekwe, Masvingo, Mutare and Hwange.

Zimbabwe, through power utility Zesa, has been working on boosting power reliability and in December last year, Energy and Power Development Minister Simon Khaya Moyo announced that work had been completed on Unit 7 of the Kariba South extension project, which added 150 megawatts to the national power grid.

Work on the Kariba South Extension Project, which is being undertaken by a Chinese State-owned hydro-power engineering and construction company, Sinohydro, began on 10 November 2014 in fulfilment of ZimAsset’s Infrastructure and Utilities Cluster and is anticipated to be completed in March 2018 with the commissioning of Unit 8.

Its completion will go a long way in substituting Zesa’s import bill from South Africa’s Eskom. The country is importing 300MW to meet national power requirements of 1 400MW for industrial and domestic use per day, against its generating capacity of about 900MW.

With Government having embarked on a re-industrialisation drive since President Mnangagwa’s inauguration, the power utility will need to up its act in order to meet new industrial requirements.

A number of dormant mines are being lined up for reopening while those already up and running are looking at ways of boosting capacity and this could increase pressure on the country’s power requirements.

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