Hy­dro power gen­er­a­tion un­der threat

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Oliver Kazunga Se­nior Busi­ness Reporter

HY­DRO-POWER gen­er­a­tion is un­der threat in Zim­babwe due to fre­quent droughts whose neg­a­tive im­pact is ex­pected to per­sist in light of cli­mate change, a Cabi­net Min­is­ter said yes­ter­day.

En­vi­ron­ment, Wa­ter and Cli­mate Min­is­ter Op­pah Muchin­guri-Kashiri said this in her key note ad­dress read on her be­half by the Direc­tor of Wa­ter Re­sources, Plan­ning and Man­age­ment, En­gi­neer Ti­nayeshe Mu­tazu, at the Wa­ter, San­i­ta­tion, Hy­giene and En­ergy Expo in Bu­l­awayo. The two-day expo ends to­day. “A par­tic­u­lar em­pha­sis has to be placed on in­creas­ing the wa­ter use ef­fi­ciency in en­ergy pro­duc­tion that is essen­tially pro­duc­ing more kilo­watt hour per drop of wa­ter.

“Our own Kariba is pre­car­i­ously low that the hy­dropower gen­er­a­tion is un­der threat.

“Apart from the highveld, large parts of the coun­try are semi-arid, and are char­ac­terised by fre­quent droughts whose neg­a­tive im­pacts will worsen in the wake of cli­mate change,” said the min­is­ter.

“Dur­ing the 2015/16 rain­fall sea­son, Zim­babwe was af­fected by the worst El Nino phe­nom­e­non in 18 years. The na­tion’s wa­ter se­cu­rity for do­mes­tic, in­dus­try, power sup­ply and agri­cul­ture re­mains un­der se­ri­ous threat.”

She also said the coun­try’s wa­ter re­sources were be­ing threat­ened by hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties such as de­for­esta­tion, veld fires, gold pan­ning and stream bank cul­ti­va­tion.

As of yes­ter­day, the Zim­babwe Power Com­pany in­di­cated on its web­site that Kariba Hy­dropower Sta­tion was pro­duc­ing 600 megawatts against an in­stalled ca­pac­ity of 750MW.

From all its power sta­tions, the coun­try, which has an es­ti­mated na­tional de­mand of 2 200MW, yes­ter­day gen­er­ated a to­tal of 966MW.

“The Gov­ern­ment will need to im­port ad­di­tional power, but this will only be pos­si­ble if we pay our en­ergy bills. Switch­ing off switches, us­ing energysaving bulbs are some of the ba­sic small prac­tices that will give us huge pos­i­tive re­sults,” said Min­is­ter Muchin­guri-Kashiri.

She chal­lenged do­mes­tic and com­mer­cial con­sumers to find in­no­va­tive ways and means of stretch­ing the life of wa­ter to get pos­i­tive out­comes.

“As Gov­ern­ment, we have set up a Drought Re­sponse Team to lead in the de­vel­op­ment and im­ple­men­ta­tion of mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures re­quired to en­sure wa­ter se­cu­rity for the var­i­ous uses un­til the next rain­fall sea­son,” the Min­is­ter said.

The cur­rent elec­tric­ity short­ages are due to lack of in­vest­ment in power gen­er­a­tion.

Since 2010, the Zim­babwe En­ergy Reg­u­la­tory Author­ity (Zera) has li­censed over 20 In­de­pen­dent Power Pro­duc­ers (IPP) with in­ter­est in de­vel­op­ing hy­dro, ther­mal and so­lar power plants across the coun­try.

Zera has said the power projects are at dif­fer­ent stages of im­ple­men­ta­tion.

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