Minimal load-shedding expected this winter

19 May, 2024 - 00:05 0 Views
Minimal load-shedding expected this winter

The Sunday Mail

Debra Matabvu

ZIMBABWEANS can expect significantly limited load-shedding this winter season owing to considerably improved national grid stability that followed the commissioning of new generation units at Hwange Thermal Power Station, optimised generation at Kariba Dam and increased contributions from independent power producers (IPPs), a Cabinet minister has said.

Traditionally, winter months often see a surge in electricity demand due to increased usage by domestic, commercial and winter wheat farmers, resulting in extensive power cuts.

However, the successful commissioning of 600 megawatts (MW) of additional capacity at Hwange last year has substantially improved the national grid’s stability, with power imports from the region also expected to bolster supplies.

While water for power generation at Kariba remains low, impacting overall generation capacity, the authorities are strategically managing power generation at the station by utilising Zimbabwe’s allocated water optimally.

This involves prioritising high-level generation only during periods of depressed supply from other sources, such as Hwange.

This approach has ensured efficient use of the available water resource, while maximising power generation when needed most.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Energy and Power Development Minister Edgar Moyo said load-shedding this winter will be minimal and will not exceed “Stage One”.

Stage One refers to the least severe level of power cuts, where outages might last up to four hours during peak demand periods.

“We have made several plans to ensure that the winter power supply situation is better than expected and we are not expecting to exceed Stage One load-shedding despite the power crisis in the region,” said Minister Moyo.

“As you can see, despite the challenges, we have managed to minimise load-shedding for several months now.

“We are anticipating reduced load curtailment owing to maximum generation at the Hwange Units 7 and 8, which are consistently producing over 600MW; Hwange Units 1-6 are performing fairly well, producing an average of 300MW from the enhanced maintenance and prioritisation of critical spares.

“Kariba dispatch is being optimised to produce an average of 250MW, with peak supply up to 400MW.

“We have several existing import arrangements with our counterparts, and ZETDC (Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company) will also be actively involved in the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) Day Ahead Market to access any excess power from the region.”

These short-term import initiatives, he said, will help address the power requirements this winter when needed.

Minister Moyo said IPPs were expected to feed close to 100MW into the national grid this winter.

“Independent power producers are producing an average of 50MW, while solar net metering capacity is at 24MW and an additional 16MW are expected this winter,” he added.

“We have ring-fenced 100MW for the winter wheat programme to secure national food security.

“Other key economic sectors such as mining, industry, commercial, water pumping, hospitals and critical institutions are key sectors being prioritised alongside winter wheat farming.”

Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority general manager (stakeholder relations) Dr George Manyaya said Stage One load-shedding means power cuts will be minimal.

“The load-shedding will be very minimal; maybe four to six hours a day,” he said.

“We cannot quantify our stages of load-shedding using the South African way of quantification because of the difference in economy and population.

“So, in our case, Stage One simply means minimal load-shedding.

“This is different from the 18 hours a day load-shedding that households used to endure.

“However, the country will have minimal load-shedding compared to other countries in the region.”

On Friday, the Hwange Thermal Power Station was producing about 844MW, while Kariba was churning out 550MW.

IPPs accounted for 46MW that was being fed into the grid.

The Government plans to refurbish Units 1-6 at Hwange after securing a US$310 million loan from the Export-Import Bank of India.

Zimbabwe generally imports power from Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa.

Share This: