‘Loadshedding to go in three months’

19 Oct, 2021 - 00:10 0 Views
‘Loadshedding to go in three months’ Dr Sydney Gata

The Chronicle

Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
LOADSHEDDING being experienced in the country will be a thing of the past in three months’ time as the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) is employing a number of measures to ensure there is enough power supply in the country.

President Mnangagwa three months ago directed the Ministry of Energy and Power Development to come up with measures to end load shedding within the next two years riding on several interventions and support extended to the power utility by the Government.

The President said the ongoing implementation of the Hwange Power Station life extension project and cumulative operationalisation of mini-hydro, thermal and solar power plants will see the country become energy secure, self-sufficient and a net exporter of power as he urged the power utility company to adopt modern technology to curb vandalism, which is affecting Zesa.

Addressing journalists and Zesa staff during a media tour of Hwange Power Station yesterday, Zesa board chair Dr Sydney Gata said the country will be spared load shedding starting in January as some mitigatory measures being put in place will have started bearing fruits.

The tour was organised by Zesa in partnership with the Zimbabwe National Editors’ Forum (ZINEF) to give journalists from a cross section of the private and public media an appreciation of operational work going on at the power utility.

Dr Gata said the country is also sitting on about 100 independent power producers’ proposals awaiting Government guarantees, which if operationalised can add 300MW to the grid.

Zesa is also working on getting imports from Zambia and Mozambique which together with completion of rehabilitation of the Kariba Dam Plunge Pool and other interventions, will result in adequate supply in the country.

The country is generating about 1 400MW against a demand of 1 750MW.

As a result, some parts of the country are subjected to load shedding as Zesa seeks to control usage of power to close the deficit gap.

“When I returned to Zesa, one of my first assignments was to end load shedding, but there was the biggest of all problems which was low staff morale. The whole of the first year was devoted to dealing with this as we invested in staff morale boosting. There were about 600 disputes at individual and company level, some going back to 2012, and we have reduced this.

“Going forward, I am not saying we are ending load shedding, but come January you will see drastic change coming from improved operations in Hwange and maintenance of the plunge pool, which is nearing end at Kariba and by December we will be finished with it,” said Dr Gata.

He said Zesa recently signed an agreement with Zambia and will soon be getting 100MW and another 200MW in January.

Dr Gata said Zambia has excess power as they are currently commissioning the Kafue power generation project.

“Next month we will pay Cahora Bassa. We owe them US$88 million and we will be paying US$60 million in two weeks and we will get 180MW that should end load shedding. We have about 100 Independent Power Producers (IPP) projects which are mostly renewable. If they are given guarantees, we might have 300MW from IPPs alone,” said Dr Gata.

He said there is also a project funded by Germany on energy efficiency, which if the country applies, its recommendations could gain about 200MW next year and even have surplus power to export.

Today the delegation will tour Insukamini Power plant near Bulawayo.

As for Hwange Unit 7 and 8 expansion project, project engineer Forbes Chanakira said progress is now at 72 percent and behind schedule.

He said from commencement in August 2018, the project was supposed to take 42 calendar months, but is now on 39 months.

Unit 7 and 8 will inject a combined 600MW to the grid.

Unit 7, which should be up by now, was now expected to be completed in September next year, said Eng Chanakira, saying Covid-19 was the biggest hindrance to the project. — @ncubeleon

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