Kariba expansion 60pct complete, Hwange set to start next year – Mugabe

Kariba expansion 60pct complete, Hwange set to start next year – Mugabe

HARARE, October 6 (The Source) – Work on the expansion of Kariba South power plant is 60 percent complete with the first 150 MW unit expected to be ready by December next year, President Robert Mugabe said on Thursday.

Expansion of the ageing hydroelectric power plant, which was initially set up in 1962, is one of the several projects the southern African country is embarking on to increase its power generation capacity.

Zimbabwe’s electricity demand stands at 1,400MW while actual generation is around 1,100MW with the balance augmented by imports from South Africa and Mozambique.

Completion of the Kariba South project will bring an additional 300MW to Kariba which already has an installed capacity of 750MW but only generates about 350MW because of declining water levels.

“In the energy sector the prime focus is on boosting local power generation capacity. To this end, I am pleased to note that the Kariba South Power expansion project is now about 60 percent complete with the first unit expected to be ready by December 2017,” Mugabe said in the National Assembly.

Zimbabwe also plans to upgrade its oldest coal fired power plant – Hwange in a $1,3 billion project which is expected to increase generation capacity by 600MW. Currently Hwange is generating about 650MW from an installed capacity of 920MW.

The project has stalled as talks for a $1,1 billion loan from China Exim Bank have dragged on since 2014 but Mugabe said “the Hwange Power Station extension project is expected before the end of this year, thus paving way for commencement of actual work in the first quarter of 2017”.

Mugabe added that government was also crafting a renewable energy policy as well as an Independent Power Producers framework which would help to enhance private sector investment in energy.

“Work is also underway to establish a natural gas powered electricity generating plant and three 100 Mw solar power generating plants,” said Mugabe.