Zesa warns of more electricity cuts after shutting parts of Kariba, Hwange power stations

Zesa warns of more electricity cuts after shutting parts of Kariba, Hwange power stations

HARARE, September 1 (The Source) – Zimbabwe’s electricity shortages are set to worsen after the power utility on Tuesday reduced output at its two main plants, Kariba hydro and Hwange thermal, due to low water levels and maintenance.

Last week, the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) said it will cut electricity generation by a third to 475 megawatts (MW) at the Kariba hydro power plant due to low water levels, but ZESA Holdings said some units at Hwange are scheduled to undergo annual statutory maintenance beginning Tuesday.

Hwange, the country’s oldest coal-powered station, is producing about 578 megawatts from an installed capacity of 920 MW, with five out of six units in operation.

While the shutdown at Kariba is necessitated by lower water levels before the start of the rainy season in November, Zesa said in a statement published in the national press on Tuesday that ZPC will also carry out maintenance at the power station until January 28 next year.

The maintenance of units at Hwange is expected to be complete by October 7, it added.

Kariba and Hwange account for 95 percent of Zimbabwe’s 1,300MW daily power output and the shutdown at the latter means the country will produce about a third of its demand which peaks at 2,200MW, worsening electricity shortages in the southern African country, which is already in the throes of a deficit that has seen industry, mines and households go for hours without power.

Chinese company Sino Hydro is adding another 300 MW to Kariba, a project which should be completed by the end of 2018. A $1,3 billion project to increase Hwange’s electricity generation by 600 megawatts by the same company is awaiting financial closure, with completion also expected in 2018.