The Sunday Mail
ZIMBABWE’S biggest power generation plant, Kariba South Power Station, will resume operating at full capacity this week, in a development that is expected to ease the crippling power shortages that have afflicted the country since December.
Rehabilitation work on the Kariba Dam plunge pool is set to be completed on Tuesday paving the way for two power generation units at the station, which for weeks were operating for just six hours a day, owing to the restoration works, to resume generating power without limitations.
Power generation at Kariba South, which currently stands at 765MW, will immediately increase by 250 megawatts with the recommissioning of the two units.
Last year, the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), directed Zimbabwe and Zambia’s power utilities to limit power generation at selected units to six hours a day to allow for the construction of a cofferdam under the plunge pool reshaping sub-project of the Kariba Dam Rehabilitation Project (KDRP).
ZRA is a bi-national organisation mandated to manage the river on behalf of the two countries.
On Tuesday, ZRA will give the two power utilities — Zesa and Zesco — the green light to commence generating power at previously agreed levels, in line with the organisation’s water allocation schedule.
Energy and Power Development Minister Zhemu Soda told The Sunday Mail yesterday that the development will help ease power shortages.
“I think you are aware that ZRA had requested that we shut down Unit 5 and 6 at Kariba saying they are discharging a current which was making it difficult for those working under water to put cement,” said Minister Soda.
“Now that they have announced that we can resume operations at the units, it is a major milestone to curtail power shortages.
“The two units have a capacity of 125MW each and the addition of 250MW will go a long way in easing the power shortages.
“Since the units were closed, we experienced load shedding whenever we failed to import power.
“Now that they said work on the cofferdam is due for completion on January 25, we are optimistic that we will generate more power.
“With the two units back on, that will ease our electricity problems and load shedding.”
Rolling power outages were adversely affecting both domestic and industrial consumers, who had to endure a punishing load shedding schedule lasting for hours daily.
Affected businesses last week called on the Government to immediately address the power situation, which they said threatened to negatively affect key economic gains garnered during 2021.
Zesa Holdings general manager (stakeholder relations, communications and welfare) Dr George Manyaya said work on the dam wall was on course for completion by Tuesday.
“It is ZRA which gave the directive on power generation. Work on the plunge pool is on course for completion on January 25,” he said.
Zesa is currently generating about 1 185MW at its five power stations against a national demand of 2 200MW.
The power utility has also engaged Mozambique and Zambia to negotiate the importation of up to 400MW as part of measures to end the power crisis.
In a statement, ZRA chief executive officer Mr Munyaradzi Munodawafa confirmed the authority will withdraw its directive to limit generation to the power utilities this week.
“During the last quarter of 2021, the authority requested Zesco Limited and Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) to reduce power generation levels for six hours only, on a few selected dates to facilitate cofferdam construction works under the plunge pool reshaping sub-project of the Kariba Dam Rehabilitation Project (KDRP).
“In doing so, the utilities were expected to implement measures that would mitigate the resulting reduction in power generation levels at Kariba.
“The specific works under the pool reshaping sub-project that called for this need have since advanced and are due to be completed by January 25, 2022, thereby ending the authority’s request to the two power generation utilities.
“Going forward, the remaining works of the KDRP will not result in the two utilities seeing reduced generation levels at their respective Kariba power stations.”
The KDRP, which is aimed at assuring the long-term safety and reliability of Kariba Dam, is scheduled for completion by 2024.
Mr Munodawafa said the water levels at Kariba Dam had begun rising on account of the increase in rainfall since the beginning of the month.
The authority, he said, is preparing to undertake the 2022 first quarter hydrological review that will inform the water allocation for power generation operations at Kariba this year.