The Sunday Mail
Zimbabwe’s electricity generation plants are experiencing major breakdowns due to obsolete equipment which is failing to cope with demand and this has resulted in increased load shedding countrywide.
Available information shows that Bulawayo Power Station was shut down last Friday morning after its major boilers broke down.
The country has five critical power-generation plants — Hwange, Kariba, Harare, Munyati and Bulawayo — all of which are constantly breaking down and have not operated at full capacity in years.
National energy demand stands at about 2 200 mega watts (MW) during peak periods, but the stations are only producing an average 1 400 MW at any given time.
Of this amount, 224 MW are exported to NamPower and Snel, the power utilities of Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo respectively.
Zesa Holdings imports between 200 and 300MW from Hydro Cahora Bassa of Mozambique.
According to information from the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), national electricity generation fell from 1 338 MW last Tuesday morning to 1 078 MW on Friday morning.
“The (Bulawayo Power) station was shut down on 5 June 2014 at 0000 hrs (midnight) due to insufficient boiler plants. Boiler 5 (is undergoing) gas passage cleaning.
“The boiler is due for statutory inspection. Boiler 6 is on standby, boiler 7 (9 and 10 are) on refractory repairs, boiler 8 is on tube leak repairs,” said ZPC on its website. Before the shutdown, Bulawayo Power Station was producing an average 20 MW at any given time against its potential of 120 MW.
Hwange Power Station, which supplies 40 percent of national electricity and has a capacity to produce an average of 800 MW, is currently producing as low as 600MW.
The station, which closed one of its units in November last year for major works, is yet to bring the plant back to full throttle.
It has also been established that Kariba, with a potential capacity of about 1000 MW, is producing an average 650MW due to the expansion of Kariba South Hydro Power Station. In an interview last week, ZPC public relations executive Ms Fadzai Chisveto said the expansion project at Kariba South, which is being undertaken by a Chinese-based firm Sino Hydro, would bring a significant 300MW to the national grid.
“I can confirm that the expansion of Kariba South Hydro Power Station has started. The expansion project is targeted at increasing power generation at Kariba South by 300MW,” she said.
Apart from the expansion of Kariba South Hydro Power Station, ZPC is also working on the expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station, and repowering the three small thermal power stations – Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati.
Harare and Munyati are currently producing an average 30 MW each against a capacity of 120 MW.
Zimbabwe, like other countries in the region, is experiencing electricity shortages as a result of increased demand of the resource against little investment in electricity generation.
Zimbabwe witnesses high power demand in winter when consumers turn to high electricity usage gadgets such as heaters, electric jugs and geysers.