THE recently completed Zimbabwe ZhongXin Electrical Energy (ZZEE) thermal power station in Hwange will begin feeding up to 50 megawatts (MW) into the national grid by the end of next week after one of its units successfully underwent transmission capability tests in December.
The beginning of power generation at the coal-fired station will mark the conclusion of phase one of the project, which will generate up to 320MW on completion.
Development of the ZZEE project, which began in 2018, was completed last month.
Energy and Power Development Minister Zhemu Soda said the power station has two generation units.
'In 2018, Zimbabwe ZhongXin Electrical Energy (ZZEE) Pvt Ltd commenced works to construct a coal-fired thermal power plant in Hwange District,' he said.
'The plant has net output 50MW comprising 2x25MW units.
'During the course of the year 2021, ZZEE managed to complete construction works of the power plant for power generation as well as the transmission line that connects and evacuates power onto the national grid.
'By December 2021, the company had concluded all, but one grid connection compliance issues, which necessitated the testing and commissioning of the units.'
He said testing involved commissioning automatic voltage regulators (AVR), synchronisation of individual units and tuning of power system stabilisers (PSS).
'Unit One has so far been successfully tested and up to 23MW was sent to the national grid during the test exercise, and the results of which are being processed.
'The second unit will follow a similar protocol and, all things being equal, will result in plant readiness for commercial production before the end of January 2022.'
The testing and commissioning, he added, was being done by ZZEE's South African consultant, ESP, the original equipment manufacturer of the units, while the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) engineers are overseeing the process.
ZZEE is one of the independent power producers working on key development projects in Matabeleland North province, which are expected to drive increased investments into the region.
In 2020, President Mnangagwa toured the project and expressed optimism that the province was poised to lead in the socio-economic transformation of the country through initiatives such as electricity generation and water projects.
Zimbabwe has been experiencing power shortages due to generation constraints at the Hwange Thermal Power Station and disruptions at Kariba South Power Plant linked to the repairs on the dam wall.
Separately, Minister Soda said expansion of the Hwange Thermal Power Station is now over 75 percent complete.
One of the 300MW units will be commissioned before the end of this year, while the other one will come online early next year.
Several power development projects, which are currently under development countrywide, are expected to increase
local electricity generating capacity from the current 2 280MW to about 5 177MW by 2030.