Leonard Ncube in Livingstone, Zambia
THE proposed Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme (BGHES) which is expected to generate 2 400 megawatts of electricity will boost power generation at the Kariba Hydropower Station as it will help increase water levels and storage, a top Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) engineer has said.
Tendering for the $4 billion project is expected to start before the end of the year with implementation set for next year, once the feasibility study is completed.
Yesterday, ZRA officials led delegates, mostly potential investors who attended the BGHES investors’ conference in Livingstone on Thursday, on a tour of the dam site.
The site of the dam wall has been pegged on either side of the river while the two power stations will be about 700 metres downstream.
Briefing delegates, ZRA engineers, led by the chief executive officer Engineer Munyaradzi Munodawafa said the Kariba Dam has potential to match generation levels at Cabora Bassa in Mozambique once the Batoka project is implemented.
“The Batoka power station will help boost Kariba Dam power generation as the dam will naturally increase storage downstream. The Batoka Dam will slow down water speed hence increase water levels in the Kariba Dam,” said Mr Munodawafa.
Engineers said this would boost Kariba Dam generation capacity to about 1 200MW from about 750MW.
Eng Munodawafa added: “That’s the beauty of conjecture operations. We will have a situation whereby power generation will be increased and this is how Cabora Bassa manages to have more electricity because the dam relies on Kariba Dam upstream which slows water flow and enhances higher levels and storage downstream.”
Low water levels at the Kariba Dam have over the years led to acute electricity shortage resulting in load shedding as authorities capped generation capacity at Kariba Hydropower Station at below 750MW.
Eng Munodawafa said while the BGHES will take about five years to complete, generation of power will start as soon as construction starts.
“Generation will not wait for the dam to be completed but will start as soon as water levels rise when building of the dam wall starts,” he said.
Engineers said the dam wall will be 180 metres high while the length will be 300 metres, adding that any height above 180 metres would flood upstream up to Victoria Falls by 90 metres.
A bridge will also be constructed downstream as part of the project to facilitate access by construction vehicles as well as enhance ease of travel between Zimbabwe and Zambia thereafter.
African Development Bank vice president Mr Amadou Hott and representatives from Ernst and Young were some of the notable development partners who visited the site.
Zambia Minister of Energy Mr David Mabumba said implementation of the project was critical to both countries who can export excess power while also supplying citizens who have suffered a lot due to power deficit.