Govt Mulls Emergency Power Imports

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Government is mulling the importation of power from the region in 2016 to supplement local production, a government official has said.
Zimbabwe used to import power from Eskom (South Africa), Zesco of Zambia and Electricidad de Mozambique (EDM) before the countries cut off supplies for non-payment. The region has a power shortfall of 8 247 megawatts, resulting in limited access to power imports.

Energy and Power Development minister Samuel Undenge said the country was negotiating with other power utilities from the region and independent power producers (IPPs) to access emergency power and the supplies would come on line next year.

“There is a possibility of importing emergency power from the region. Discussions are underway for possible imports to resume in early 2016. However, it should be noted that emergency power is not cheap. It comes at a premium,” Undenge said.

Undenge said the Kariba Power Station was generating at an average of 475MW and Hwange was producing about 578MW from an installed capacity of 920MW, but government could not augment supplies through imports.

Zimbabwe is a member of the Southern African Power Pool (Sapp), a cooperation of national electricity companies from 12 Sadc member countries.

Sapp coordination centre manager Lawrence Musaba said the regional average electricity growth rate stood at 4,6% per annum against a consumption rate of 400 kilowatt per hour.

He said Sapp had an installed capacity of 58 608MW but the available capacity was at 52 589MW against an operating capacity of 46 910MW, leaving a shortfall of 8 247MW.
Zimbabwe’s electricity generation yesterday was pegged at 1 077MW against a national requirement in excess of 2 200MW.

Undenge said government had identified medium quick-win projects which would be implemented in the next three years.

“You will agree with me that energy is the main enabler of Zim-Asset goals. We are, therefore, making every effort to increase its availability. The measures I alluded to above are immediate. We have also identified medium quick-win projects which we are vigorously pursuing and are well on the way to being implemented. These should add 340MW to the national grid within the next 36 months,” he said.

He said they would repower the Bulawayo Thermal Station and government had already secured a line of credit valued at $87 million from India. The repowering works, expected to take 24 months, would add 60MW onto the grid.

The Harare repowering project will cost $70,2 million with 85% of the cost promised by the Indian Exim Bank. The project will take 24 months to complete and will add 90MW to the grid.

The Munyati repowering project went to tender and adjudication of the bids is currently taking place. The construction period is 24 months and additional power to the grid will be 70MW. The Mutare Emergency peaking plant running on diesel or gas will give an output of 120MW. The project cost is $92 million and the tender was won by Helcraw Electrical Pvt Ltd. Construction is expected to take 18 months.

Undenge said Kariba Hydro Power Station was already being expanded.

“This work is already well underway and on target with completion of the first and second units expected end of 2017 and early 2018 respectively,” Undenge said.

He said the financial closure for the 2x 300MW expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station was expected before year-end, with works commencing in the first half of 2016.

On the 30MW Gairezi Small Hydro Power plant, Undenge said the project had gone to tender and the winner should be announced before the end of the year.

“I have heard that some of you are thinking on planned future investments in your sector as you are not sure whether there will be enough power. Please go ahead and plan for any size project as I am assuring you that going forward, power shortage will be a thing of the past. Consider these planned projects,” he said.

Commenting on the Batoka Power Plant, he said the feasibility study for the 2 400MW Batoka Hydro Power Plant on the Zambezi River was about to be completed and this would be shared equally between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

He said the conclusion of the feasibility studies would pave way for the next phase of procuring the contracts and securing funding.

Apart from the government projects, Undenge said there were independent power producers working on a number of projects, which included the 600MW China Africa Sunlight Energy plant at Gwayi, the 600MW Southern Energy Thermal Power Station at Hwange and the 600MW Lusulu Thermal Power Station at Binga.

He said the licensed small hydro power projects which had been developed included Pungwe A 3MW, B 15MW and C Duri and Nyamingura, adding there were other small independent power producers scattered around the country.

He said energy was also being produced from Bagasse at Chisumbanje for 18MW and at Triangle and Hippo Valley 78MW.

“The planned projects will utilise conventional sources of energy such as coal. As they say, we can’t keep all our eggs in one basket, we need to broaden our sources of primary energy. One area we have decided to vigorously pursue is the use of solar energy. Zimbabwe has enormous solar energy potential which, if exploited, can supply approximately 10 000gigawatt hours of electrical energy per year,” he said.

The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) has licensed IPP solar projects with a total installed capacity of around 155MW which are at various stages of development.

Undenge also mentioned the three solar plants which the government intends to construct in Gwanda, Insukamini and Munyati. “We hope that at least one of these can now be implemented as soon as possible in order to alleviate the power shortages,” he said.

The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) managing director Noah Gwariro said ZPC required about $6,5 billion to fully fund all the ZPC projects.

“Funding these projects has proved challenging when ZPC presents Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company [Zetdc] as the off-taker. Most financial institutions feel that ZETDC is not a credible off-taker,” he said.

“Given the legacy loans on the ZPC balance sheet, most institutions prefer a clean entity, hence the formation of an SPV for the Kariba project.

“For security reasons, revenue from existing power plants is ring fenced to the expansion or refurbishment of that particular power plant, leaving Greenfield power plants like solar and CBM to be project financed,” Gwariro said.

According to ZETDC’s System Development Plan, the power demand forecast is expected to reach about 3540MW by 2018.

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