By Elvis Dumba
Kariba – Zimbabweans experiencing long hours of electricity load shedding will have to grapple with more power outages as electricity generation is depleted due to low water levels in Kariba Dam.
The country now pins its hopes on improved electricity generation on the commissioning of unit 7 at the Hwange Power Station which is expected for later this year.
Kariba’s hydroelectric plant has fallen to critically low levels while existing generators at Hwange have been frequently breaking down.
According to ZESA Holdings’ internal statistics gleaned by this publication, the dam level of usable live water for generating power dropped to 6.6 percent last week.
Boiler tube leaks on Hwange’s Power Station’s two units, forced the shutting down of three generators at the plant last Wednesday which were producing 231 megawatts to the plant’s rated capacity of 920 MW.
At Kariba, three units are down for various maintenance works and the plant was producing 475 MW.
Coal shortages in the country’s smaller power plants like Harare, Munyati, and Bulawayo have forced the plants to shut down.
The country is facing a deficit of 612 megawatts with independent power producers supplying a mere 29 megawatts to the grid and Zimbabwe Power Company importing 290 megawatts from Zambia, South Africa, and Mozambique.
Energy and Power Development Minister Zhemu Soda said the commissioning of unit 7 at Hwange is expected to feed 300 MW.
“We are now hoping on Hwange’s Unit 7 commissioning as the existing units at the plants are frequently breaking down, which is not a surprise because the equipment has become too obsolete and we can’t rely on them.”
Unit 8, for an additional 300MW, is expected to come online during the first quarter of next year.
“Although we are concerned about the Kariba dam water level, Zambezi River Authority which manages the lake has advised us that we may continue generating our electricity and are also expecting early inflows to the lake due to the early rains we received some few days ago,” he said.
Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) say they are working tirelessly to normalise power supply.
In Banket, soccer lovers were plunged into darkness whilst glued to television sets for the Qatar World Cup opening match yesterday.