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'Zimbabwe turns to Zambia for power bailout'

by Staff reporter
30 Nov 2022 at 05:07hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE is reportedly negotiating with neighbouring Zambia for additional power imports following indications that the country's Kariba Power Station could soon be switched off due to low water levels.

There has been panic among citizens who are enduring rolling power outages lasting several hours amid a spike in prices of solar products and back-up fuel generators in the last few days.

During a post-Cabinet briefing yesterday, Acting Information minister Jenfan Muswere said deliberations had been made and Energy minister Zhemu Soda would update the nation soon.

Highly-placed sources, however, told NewsDay that government had gone with a begging bowl to Zambia to utilise part of its remaining water allocation until year-end.

"We have started the talks with Zambia and an update should be available soon," a source close to the negotiations said.

"Otherwise, this is nothing new. It has happened before whereby Kariba has had four out of six turbines running."

Apart from the Zambia deal, Zimbabwe is banking on the coming in of Hwange unit 7 with an additional 300 megawatts (MW), hopefully next month.

Tests are reported to have been run although indications are that after the formal commissioning, the plant will run gradually until it optimises.

Zambia and Zimbabwe have a combined generation capacity of 2 130 megawatts at Kariba, which is on the Zambezi River that separates the two countries.

In July, Zambia declared that it had a surplus of about 1 000 MW.

According to the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) website, Hwange Power Station  is generating just 245MW, while other power stations Harare, Bulawayo, Munyati and Kariba are generating 11MW, 0MW, 14MW and 854MW, respectively, to give a total of 1 124MW, against a peak demand of 2 200 MW.

In a statement, Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) chief executive officer Munyaradzi Munodawafa said Zimbabwe had exhausted its 2022 water allocation necessitating the shutdown of the Kariba South Bank Power Station.

"If the current water utilisation above allocation at Kariba South Bank Power Station continues, the remaining water for power generation at Kariba will run out by mid-December 2022 or much earlier," Munodawafa said.

"ZRA is left with no choice, but to firmly guide the ZPC/Kariba Hydro Power Company Limited immediately ensures that generation activities at the South Bank Power Station are wholly suspended henceforth, until January 2023 when a further review of the substantive hydrological outlook at Kariba will be undertaken which will include consideration of the total reservoir live storage build up which would have resulted from a shutdown of the Kariba South Bank Power Station generation operations."

However, former Finance minister Tendai Biti said Zimbabwe needed a fresh 2 000MW on its national grid to meet rising demand.

"You should just strike off Kariba, forget about it and look at new projects such as Batoka which can give you 2 000MW split in half between Zimbabwe and Zambia," Biti said in an interview.

"Batoka is the solution to bring in 1 000MW and the balance comes from alternative sources, which are your wind, solar and independent power producers."

Source - Newsday Zimbabwe