RISING economic activity and depressed supplies from Hwange and Kariba power stations have caused power challenges in Zimbabwe over the past few weeks. Our Correspondent Wallace Ruzvidzo (WR) spoke to Energy and Power Development Zhemu Soda (ZS) on the current power situation, among other issues in the energy sector.
WR: Can you give us a brief outline of the current power situation in Zimbabwe?
ZS: The current power supply available ranges between 1,295-1,563 MW. Forecast system maximum demand is 1,850 MW. This results in a shortfall of 367 MW after considering Nampower 80MW firm export commitment. Currently there are more than 82 players on net metering platform. There are also a number of private players who are producing electricity for their own consumption. The graph here will give you a detailed explanation.
WR: You mentioned recently that obsolete power generation equipment at Hwange thermal power station was behind depressed power generation. Can you outline Government's plans to modernise this equipment?
ZS: Hwange Power Station (HPS) has consistently generated an average of 400 MW from four units out of a total of six units. The load restriction on the units emanates from an aged plant, unavailability of auxiliary plant, and unavailability of spares at the appropriate time to revive the stand-by plant. The low plant availability which has been primarily due to breakdowns on the boiler plant and turbine auxiliaries is a worry to ZPC. ZPC has thus made a strategic decision to carry out a plant revival plan and extend the life of all the Stage 1 and 2 units.
The Hwange Life Extension (LIFEX) project aims to achieve plant availability of 80 percent, an output of 120MW for Stage 1 and 200MW for stage 2 units, as well as life extension of 15 - 20 years
Expected benefits after implementing the project are high and there will be sustained availability of the power station for maximum output. This will lead to increased power availability, reduced load shedding and reduced imports. Other benefits are reduced auxiliary power consumption to improve net power availability, which means increased profitability and reduced consumption of chemicals and consumables from existing generating facilities, meaning reduced costs and foreign currency demand.
The summary scope includes:
Boiler 1 - 6 general overhaul and upgrade
Turbine 1 - 6 general overhaul and upgrade
Boiler and turbine auxiliaries' refurbishment
Refurbishment and upgrade of balance of plant (BOP)
Plasma Ignition and Combustion System (PICS)
Deka Extension (water adequacy measures)
The project was estimated to cost US$450 million in the year 2015. In 2020, a US $310 million Line of Credit (LoC) from India was secured. WAPCOS Limited (India), in consultation with ZESA Holdings and the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, has been appointed as the Project Management Consultant for the project.
WAPCOS is currently updating the Detailed Project Report (DPR) which will develop the techno-financial parameters of the project. The DPR will unlock utilisation of US $310 million LoC facility and pave way for project execution using Indian contractors. LIFEX works are expected to commence in the fourth quarter of 2023 and be completed in the last quarter of 2028.
WR: What kind of impact will commissioning of Hwange Units 7 and 8 have on the power situation in the country?
ZS: Hwange Units 7 and 8 are expected to add 300MW in November and another 300MW in the first quarter of 2023. Hwange extension supply shall assist to cover the prevailing deficit as well as to reduce over-utilisation of Kariba Water.
WR: We understand there are discussions between ZESA and Mozambique's EDM for additional power imports. How much power is the country looking to import from Mozambique and how have discussions progressed?
ZS: ZESA and EDM signed a 200 MW Power Supply Agreement in March 2022 comprising 50MW firm and 150MW non-firm.
EDM has been supplying the 50MW firm, withholding the 150MW additional supply because of outstanding arrears not paid by ZESA.
Negotiations are progressing with the aim to unlock the 150MW additional power from EDM through roping in Intensive Energy Users Group with financial capacity to meet EDM's expectations.
WR: How much is the country spending on power imports and where else are we getting power from?
ZS: From January to date, expenditure on power imports stands at US$72, 3 million (giving a monthly average of USD12,1 million).
WR: Is the Mola anchor project in Kariba still on course to be commissioned next month?
ZS: Yes the Mola anchor project is projected to be complete before end of September.
WR: Can you outline long term projects in the pipeline that Government will implement to guarantee power self-sufficiency?
ZS: ZESA mandated to carry out 'system planning for long term capacity' in accordance with the Electricity Act.
This mandate is implemented by ZETDC, the Transmission and Bulk Supply Licensee. Development of power generation capacity is done by ZESA through ZPC and Independent Power Producers.
The current power system development plan addresses power supply solutions through implementation of medium to long term projects. The current projects under the System Development Plan (SDP) are outlined in the second table.
The current power deficit is about 600MW. A total capacity of 1100MW (Hwange Expansion and Solar PV) from ZESA driven projects and various contributions by private players, most of them being 'prosumers', conditions have been set for them to generate electricity in the next three years. These projects would have significantly reduced the power deficit.
WR: Does Zimbabwe have a comprehensive energy policy and what does it entail?
ZS: Zimbabwe has a comprehensive National Energy Policy which was developed in 2012. This was followed by the National Renewable Policy in 2019 and currently an Energy Efficiency Policy is being developed. In brief, the Energy Policy provides a framework for exploitation, distribution and utilisation of energy resources to achieve the following: Increase in access to affordable energy services to all sectors of the economy optimally; Stimulate sustainable economic growth by promoting competition, efficiency and investment in the energy sector; Improve the institutional framework and governance to enhance efficiency in delivery of energy services; Development of the use of alternative renewable sources of energy to complement conventional energy sources; Promote research and development in the energy sector
The Renewable Energy and the Energy Efficiency polices are specific policies to address the broader National Energy Policies outlined above.
WR: What are Government's plans to expedite Zimbabwe's transition to clean energy?
ZS: Government has committed to carbon dioxide reduction through signing the Paris Agreement and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). ZESA has embraced the national NDCs as the largest contribution to reduction with several renewable projects planned. These include: Batoka Hydro Project, Solar PV on grid solutions and Solar PV Off-grid solutions.
WR: What other measures is Government putting to ensure fuel prices remain affordable for most Zimbabwe in light of the conflict in Eastern Europe?
ZS: The blending of petrol with ethanol is itself a measure that reduces petrol prices when internal fuel prices are high. Government is encouraging all sectors of the economy to pass realised savings to the consumer through reducing prices of goods and services in line with the decrease in fuel prices we have witnessed in the past few weeks.
On its part Government through the Regulator will always respond timely to international prices movement.