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New power supply for Bulawayo

by Staff reporter
14 Dec 2021 at 22:49hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT has commenced the construction of a 360km electricity transmission project linking Hwange Thermal Power Station and Insukamini Substation in Bulawayo.

The project is part of the on-going US$1,5 billion Hwange Units 7 and 8 Expansion Project, which is 76 percent complete and is expected to add 600MW into the national grid by 2022.

With an installed capacity of 920MW, Hwange Power is the largest coal-fired power station in the country comprising of 4x120MW and 2×220 MW units.

The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) officially commenced expansion works at Hwange Power Station in August 2018, which will result in a third stage being added to the station with 2x300MW units being constructed.

The expansion project will increase Hwange's generation capacity from the current 920MW to 1  520MW, according to ZPC, which will help address perennial power outages in the country.

At present the country is generating about 1  300MW mainly dominated by Kariba Hydro Power Station producing about 900MW alone, with deficit being covered by imports from regional producers.

Given the massive nature of the project, developing adequate transmission infrastructure capacity is critical in enhancing energy efficiency in the economy.

In that regard, energy experts have stressed the need for both the expansion and transmission infrastructure projects to be concluded simultaneously to ensure positive impact on the market.

This comes amid concerns that the power utility could be losing 20 percent of energy due to poor transmission infrastructure.

In an interview in Bulawayo on Friday, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, Dr Gloria Magombo said the expanded power transmission project was being pursued with urgency in the same manner as the Units 7 and 8 expansion focus.

"The overall project progress stands at 76 percent completion. Commissioning of the first 300MW unit, (unit-7) is targeted for October 2022 and unit 8 (300MW) end of January 2023.

"The project is financed by China Exim Bank and disbursements are made against certified progress. A total of US$360 million has been disbursed to date," said Dr Magombo.

"The transmission scope includes construction of a 360km long power line from Hwange to Insukamini Substation in Bulawayo.

"Construction of the line involves civil works for the tower foundations, installation of the towers and stringing of the overhead conductors."

The energy secretary said civil works have already been completed and that 674 of the 875 towers have been installed.

She added that the stringing of the conductors, which commenced in September 2021, had by last week Friday (10 December 2021) completed 190km of the 360km.

"It is projected that by mid-April 2022, stringing of the entire line will be complete," said Dr Magombo.

"This programme is in line with the commissioning of the entire project."

Citing the massive roll-out of new energy projects being implemented by the Government and independent power producers, Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) chief executive officer, Dr Thomas Zondo-Sakala, has stressed the need to invest more in transmission infrastructure.

"We all know there is power deficit in the country and there are different players engaged in power generation," he said in a recent interview.

"It's important for the Zesa group to start to work in developing transmission capacity, otherwise its going to be a bottleneck."

The country is implementing several new power projects covering solar, hydro and renewable segments, whose completion should result in output jumping to above 5 000MW, which will see Zimbabwe exporting excess energy into the region.

Source - The Chronicle
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