$1,5bn Hwange power plant project gets rolling

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Pros­per Ndlovu

THE $1,5 bil­lion 600MW Hwange Ther­mal Power Sta­tion ex­pan­sion project has started rolling with pre­lim­i­nary agree­ments in place ahead of fi­nan­cial clo­sure by Oc­to­ber this year.

With the fall in wa­ter lev­els in the Zam­bezi River due to drought and the re­sul­tant loss of gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity at the Kariba Hy­dro-Power Sta­tion cou­pled with low power gen­er­a­tion in the four ther­mal sta­tions, Zim­babwe has re­sorted to im­ports to bridge the en­ergy sup­ply gap.

En­ergy and Power De­vel­op­ment Min­istry Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary, Mr Pat­son Mbiriri, told Busi­ness Chron­i­cle in Bu­l­awayo on Fri­day that the much an­tic­i­pated project was “cer­tainly on course”.

“Most prob­a­bly we will con­clude fi­nan­cial clo­sure by Oc­to­ber to Novem­ber. That’s our tar­get.

“This is a big project and a lot of money is in­volved, you’re talk­ing of up to $1,4 bil­lion and you can­not ex­pect that to be in place within a short space of time,” said Mr Mbiriri.

“Most agree­ments for the project have been ini­ti­ated, we are cer­tainly on course. Some ini­tial cost­ing is un­der­way and geo­phys­i­cal works have started.”

De­spite con­cerns over per­ceived de­lays in the project im­ple­men­ta­tion, the Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary said the Gov­ern­ment was sat­is­fied with progress made so far.

He said: “We have made agree­ments with coal and lime­stone sup­pli­ers as well as wa­ter. All that work is be­ing done.

“We will need to put a sec­ond pipe­line from the Zam­bezi River at Deka con­flu­ence.

“Our ini­tial tar­get was to con­clude fi­nan­cial clo­sure by the first half but we are happy with progress made”.

The mas­sive power project is a key com­po­nent, among other cru­cial in­vest­ment projects, of the Zim­babwe-China de­vel­op­ment mega deals that were sealed by Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe dur­ing his State visit to the Asian gi­ant in 2014.

The es­ti­mated con­struc­tion pe­riod for the new power project is 42 months from com­mence­ment, ac­cord­ing to the Zim­babwe Power Com­pany.

Upon com­ple­tion, the project will add 600MW (2x300MW) into the na­tional power grid through units 7 and 8.

At the mo­ment Hwange Ther­mal Power Sta­tion gen­er­ates an av­er­age of 500MW against its in­stalled 920MW ca­pac­ity.

It is the largest coal-fired power sta­tion in the coun­try com­pris­ing 4x120MW and 2x220 MW units and is the 14th largest sta­tion in the South­ern African re­gion.

The 4x120MW units were com­mis­sioned be­tween 1983 and 1986 while the 2x220MW were com­mis­sioned in 1986 and 1987.

Due to age­ing equip­ment, the ex­ist­ing sta­tion has been sub­jected to fre­quent break­downs, which has com­pro­mised ef­fi­ciency and re­duced its ca­pac­ity.

The con­tract for the ex­pan­sion of Hwange units 7 and 8 was awarded to Chi­nese firm Sino Hy­dro, which also landed the ten­der for ca­pac­ity ex­ten­sion of the 750MW Kariba Hy­dro Power Sta­tion.

The Gov­ern­ment, through Zesa Hold­ings, is work­ing on in­creas­ing do­mes­tic power gen­er­a­tion to bridge the gap be­tween power sup­ply and demand.

The coun­try gen­er­ates about 1,100MW against peak demand of 2,200MW.

To bridge the gap Zim­babwe is im­port­ing over 300MW from South Africa’s Eskom to ease its power deficit while dis­cus­sions are in progress with other re­gional util­i­ties.

Sev­eral li­cences have also been is­sued to in­de­pen­dent power pro­duc­ers to com­ple­ment at least nine projects ZPC is work­ing on, which will see Zim­babwe achiev­ing ex­cess ca­pac­ity and ex­port­ing to the re­gion from 2018 and be­yond.

@Pros­perNdlovu

Hwange Ther­mal Power Sta­tion Mr Pat­son Mbiriri

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