Zimbabweans have to brace for a dark Christmas, with power outages projected to persist until February next year when the water level at Lake Kariba is expected to rise.
Load-shedding has been persistent countrywide, with some residential areas experiencing rolling power cuts of up to 18 hours, following the suspension of electricity generation at the Kariba Hydro-Power Station last week.
The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), a bi-national organisation overseen by Zambia and Zimbabwe, last week ordered suspension of power generation at Kariba Hydro-Power Station, until January 2023, after Zimbabwe exhausted its allocation of water.
The ZRA revealed that the Kariba South Bank Power Station (KSBPS) had utilised 23.89 billion cubic metres (BCM) of water, accounting for 1.39 BCM (or 6.16%) above the 2022 water allocation of 22.50 BCM.
The KSBPS, Zimbabwe’s largest power plant, has been producing less than a third of its total generation capacity of 1 050MW.
Zimbabwe’s power stations, namely Hwange, Kariba, Munyati, Harare and Bulawayo, are hamstrung and were producing a combined 561MW on Thursday, against a demand of 2 200MW.
Hwange was producing 294MW, followed by Kariba at 253MW and Munyati at 14MW, according to statistics availed by the Zimbabwe Power Company, a subsidiary of Zesa responsible for power generation. Harare and Bulawayo thermal stations are not producing any electricity at the moment.
Officials says the country will have to brace for more power cuts, with normalcy being expected in February.
“Unfortunately, that is the situation on the ground,” said an official.
“Kariba is one of our biggest suppliers that could supply us with 1 050MW. There has not been rains, so we cannot produce much from it. So we might start bracing for more power cuts, because we usually start getting water from Kariba at around February and March because we collect from the northern basins like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“That water will stream into the Kariba Dam around January and February, and that is the time our hydro-power electricity generation will improve.”
According to an educational video produced by ZPC, the water intakes for power generation at Lake Kariba are designed at 13 metres below maximum water levels, in order to avoid mud which would clog the power generation facilities.
This means that only a certain amount of water is accessible for power generation, which is also known as live water.
Although power cuts are expected to continue throughout the festive season, they could ease with the injection of electricity from the Hwange expansion project, which is seen adding 300MW into the national grid.
The project, now at pre-commissioning stage, is expected to add 300MW. A further 300MW is expected to be added in March.
“Then, that is projected to make the situation better because in total, we will have 600MW from the new plant, plus the existing 400MW, which will bring the total to 1 000MW.”
Source: The NewsHawks