The Sunday Mail
Golden Sibanda Senior Business Reporter
The Zimbabwe Power Company intends to spend more than $500 million rehabilitating Hwange Power Station units 1 to 5 to guarantee reliability and extend its lifespan by between 15 to 20 years. The project forms part of a multi-faceted approach by President Mnangagwa’s Government to close the gap between current demand and available generation capacity.
Authorities are planning for soaring future demand as economic recovery begins to take root.
Zesa wants to expedite the planned project as it fears the units might suffer catastrophic failure.
It is believed that the thermal power station will be rehabilitated incrementally.
Ultimately, the power utility targets to increase its output potential to 800 megawatts (MW) from the current 450MW.
HPS has design capacity of 920MW but is currently able to generate an average of 450MW-500MW owing to aging equipment.
The Sunday Mail Business, however, understands that the parastatal has not raised enough funds for the project as yet.
Minutes of a recent board meeting gleaned by this publication showed that ZPC required about $510 million for the whole programme, but only $310 million has been committed by an Indian bank.
“The board inquired on the progress on the $310 million loan from India for the Hwange Power Station life extension project. Management in response advised the meeting that there were some limitations as the loan was not adequate to refurbish all the five units, which required about $510 million,” reads excerpts of board meeting minutes.
The board has also expressed concern that there seemed to be slow progress on the plans to rehabilitate the Hwange Power Station despite the urgent need to ensure the project is carried through.
“Management was advised to make sure that they come up with recommendations that would see the project being undertaken in 2019.”
While the unnamed Indian bank has committed to fund the rehabilitation project, it is understood that Zesa has not begun the paperwork to access the facility.
The company will also need to come up with an action plan to mobilise a further $200 million required to complete the rehabilitation exercise.
ZPC believes that the project will be both cost effective and efficient.
Government is in the process of adding new units – unit 7 and 8 – at HPS, which will add 600MW to the national grid.
Sinohydro, which recently increased Kariba Power Station output by 300MW, is undertaking the works at HPS.
Kariba, at 1050MW, is now Zimbabwe’s largest power plant following the capacity extension programme completed in March, but its capacity will be overtaken by HPS once the 600MW expansion is complete.
Water and Power Consultancy Services (Wapcos)’s chief engineer and project manager Mr Sanjay Gupta said recently the rehabilitation will help minimise the power plant’s forced power outages from the current 20 percent to just 10 percent.
Wapcos recently conducted a detailed project report on the life extension at HPS.
Zimbabwe, which generates about 1 400MW, requires at least 1 600MW daily.
The deficit is usually covered through imports from Mozambique and South Africa. Zimbabwe together with Zambia is also jointly developing the 2 400MW Batoka Gorge hydro power project.