French group plans to commission 2,000MW Zimbabwe thermal plant by mid-2019

French group plans to commission 2,000MW Zimbabwe thermal plant by mid-2019

HARARE, July 1 (The Source) – Pan-African Energy Resource (PER), the French developers of the 2,000 megawatt coal-fired power plant in Binga, western Zimbabwe, plan to commission the first phase of the project by mid-2019, according to a revised project schedule tabled by the southern African country’s energy regulator on Wednesday.

The project, at completion of its four phases, would be sufficient to meet Zimbabwe’s current peak power demand. Zimbabwe currently generates just over 1,200MW, half of what it requires, resulting in rolling power cuts that have crippled mining and industrial operations, while keeping households in the dark for hours.

The $3 billion PER Lusulu Power project, was licenced in 2010 with an initial plan to complete construction within four years, according to the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA).

However, the firm has since applied to change the project timeline, which will now see the first 500MW phase of the project coming on stream around July 2019.

The project’s financial closure – when all conditions have been fulfilled and draw downs can commence – is now slated for March 31 next year. The commissioning of the last phase of the project is seen 72 months after financial closure – March 31 2022.

Zimbabwe currently has two major power plants – the hydroelectrical 750MW plant in Kariba, completed in 1977 and the thermal 920MW Hwange station commissioned between 1983 and 1987. As of June 30, the two plants were generating 606MW and 545MW, respectively.

The Zimbabwean government has embarked on a $500 million China-funded project to add 300MW to the Kariba plant. The expansion project is expected to be complete in the first half of 2018.

The PER Lusulu Power station, to be sited on the southern side of Lake Kariba, is within Binga’s Lusulu coal fields, with an estimated resource of 1,2 billion tonnes. The power plant is estimated to have an annual demand of seven million tonnes of coal, creating the need for feeder mines.