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Zimbabwe power outages a reflection of subdued generation

by Staff reporter
10 Jan 2024 at 05:37hrs | Views
Many of the recent power outages have arisen from faults since generation capacity is up and many private businesses have reduced their demand on the grid by installing solar panels, Energy and Power Development Permanent Secretary Dr Gloria Magombo has said.

Speaking to The Herald in response to the recent power outages she said it was not an issue of power inadequacy. But in response to the outages, likely caused by faults, Government now requires a detailed report from ZESA, explaining the problem and strategies they are employing to ensure there is no recurrence.

There has been an increase in demand for electricity uptake from the improved economic activity in the country under the Second Republic, but Dr Magombo said a lot has been done to ensure there is no shortage.

Medium-term solutions included the completion of the Hwange power generation units seven and eight, now both back up after maintenance checks, while the long-term solutions include, but not limited to the Batoka Gorge hydropower station a 2.4GW run-of-the river hydroelectric project planned to be developed on the Zambezi River, plus the proposed gas station using the recently discovered reserves in Muzarabani.

Dr Magombo also commended companies who have invested heavily in solar energy, lifting the weight on the national grid.

"As Government what we have been working on in the short-term is to ensure that ZESA is viable as a company. The viability of ZESA is quite critical in ensuring that they collect sufficient revenue to ensure that repairs and maintenance of their system is done on time," said Dr Magombo.

"Both Hwange units seven and eight are now back after maintenance and we are very happy about that. Obviously we have other challenges which are beyond us as individuals because of issues of climate change, where the water allocation has been reduced for Kariba. But we are encouraging more independent power producers to come and do solar so that at least during the day they can provide the additional capacity which we need to keep our system going.

"We have also seen the rise of what we call commercial and industrial systems where industries on their own have installed industrial systems on roof tops, including storage and that for us is very good because as Government we have allowed for duty free importation for these renewable energy systems which are being installed by industry.

"So, we have encouraged industry to be also part of the solution by installing these systems. We have a number of companies which have installed them.

"There are a lot of other initiatives which are being done by consumers to complement the challenges which we are facing but also to ensure energy security for both national and also for self-supply and we are encouraging that," said Dr Magombo.

An increase in capacity from the older Hwange units one to six commissioned in the was now expected, although unit five iswas still out on a long outage which will include the repowering and installation of new equipment on that unit.

Dr Magombo said Government is cognisant that there will be need to increase on some of the imports to complement the internal supply given that Kariba South is on a reduced capacity because of the low inflows.

She said authorities will also continue monitoring the situation at Kariba if there is or there are no any improved inflows.

"If you remember we announced last year that we were looking at giving some Government support agreements for some IPP projects which will be announced very soon," said Dr Magombo.

"A number of projects have been identified and we are working closely with the Ministry of Finance, we will be announcing the projects and also what capacity which has gone through the due diligence process.

"We are not sitting back. There is a lot of work which is being done to complement and increase the power generation capacity especially over the next two years," said Dr Magombo.

She also gave an update on the recently reported power outages across the country.

"From a policy point of view, we have an energy policy, we have a renewable energy policy where we are working very hard through the regulator to bring in the private sector to also complement the supply," said Dr Magombo.

"But the day-to-day operations of the system are done by Zesa so if there is a challenge, they should be able to explain that challenge to you. These are not everyday challenges; some of them are just once off things which just happen because there is a fault which then affects other things,"she said.

"I think it's important to know that at times there is a system fault which affects the system in a country, it's not a everyday occurrence and that I am aware that ZESA is investigating what is the cause and also to come up with solutions to avoid similar occurrences in future.

"For us as Government, that is what we demand we are saying yes there is a fault but we want them to be able to produce a report with clear solutions to that fault and how they will in future avoid such similar problems so that's an area which as Government we have made our position clear on," said Dr Magombo.

Source - The Herald