The Sunday Mail
Eng Ben Rafemoyo
President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week officiated at the ground breaking ceremony of the construction of Hwange Power Station Units 7 and 8. Our Reporter Sharon Munjenjema spoke to Zesa board vice chairperson Engineer Ben Rafemoyo. We publish excerpts of the interview in the engineer’s own words.
The Hwange Power Station extension project is one of the oldest proposals and since the 1990s, Zesa has always wanted to extend from 6 units currently running to 8 units.
Many people are aware of the famous YTL (Power International) deal which failed to materialise and several others thereafter.
We are happy that after so many years of failed attempts, we have eventually found a contractor who is also an investor — Syno-hydro.
The Chinese company is not new to us and it is the same company that successfully conducted the Kariba South extension project that has a capacity of 300 megawatts.
We are confident the company will once again ensure Hwange Power Station adds two more units with a combined 600 mega watt output.
It is important to highlight the importance of Hwange station in technical terms.
With power stations, we have what we call peaking stations. These are the ones like Kariba Power Station where output is moderated based on demand.
What it means is that during peak hours when electricity demand increases, the power station then also ups its electricity generating capacity.
If we have excess electricity, which we do not have at the moment, we can reduce the electricity output from the peaking stations.
Then we have base load stations like Hwange Power Station and these are usually thermal stations.
With the base stations, we would rather have them run continuously because it is costly to turn off some units as they require a lot of energy to get them to start.
So Hwange Power Station will maintain a certain level output and leave the peaking stations to do any adjustments.
That is why we say Hwange Power Station is important because it is the base of our electricity levels and cannot be tempered with, that is, switching it off.
As long as there is enough coal, it will continue running, which is different from Kariba where we can produce depending on demand and amount of water in the dam. The expansion project at Hwange means we are adding 600 megawatts to our base load and this guarantees us of a constant supply of power and once complete, we might not need to import electricity.
It is also pleasing to note that the expansion comes at a time when we have guaranteed sources of coal to run the station. Hwange Colliery Company, Makomo Coal Resources and Zambezi Gas are mining coal.
We used to have issues of coal delivery with Hwange Colliery Company , but that is no longer the case.
In some cases Zesa has been pre paying coal deliveries to make sure producers have no financial problems.
We have informed suppliers to increase production in light of the new project.
We expect that with the new dispensation and economic recovery path we are currently on, demand will continue to creep up.The plant will take about three and half years to complete and we anticipate by then there will be increased and new industrial activities, hence power demand will go up.