The Zimbabwe Power Company needs at least US$500 million to extend the lifespan of Hwange Power Station’s aged plant by at least 25 years, the company said yesterday. In a power generation status report, the company said it had started working towards the resuscitation of Stage 1 and 2 units at the plant.
“ZPC carried out life extension studies on the Stagea 1 units and when implemented, the units will generate at the original capacity of 920 megawatts giving it a new lease of life of at least 25 years. A similar study is underway for the Stage 2 units,” the company said.
The station was built in two stages. The 4x120MW Stage 1 units were commissioned between 1983 and 1986 while the 2x220MW Stage 2 units followed between 1986 and 1987.
Although the station’s installed capacity is 920MW, it is able to generate on average about 700MW when all six units available.
ZPC said the greatest challenge at Hwange was that the plant had reached the end of its design life of 25 to 30 years resulting in depressed generation.
“Hwange operates between four and five units continuously while the remaining units are normally on maintenance because of the age of the plant. Efforts are being made to ensure that the plant is reliable,” the company added.
Recently, the Export Import Bank of India extended a US$28,6 million loan facility to rehabilitate the Deka pipeline in order to secure water supply in preparation for the expansion of Hwange Power Station.
The country currently has an energy deficit averaging 700 megawatts due to obsolete machinery and limited investment in the energy sector.
The huge power deficits have impacted negatively on industrial performance and consequently the economy, with the country generating an average of 1 500MW out of a requirement of a possible 2 200MW.
At least 150MW is being exported to Namibia as payment of a loan paid to refurbish Hwange Power Station in 2007.
Kariba South Power Station is the most reliable station in the country at the moment, generating at full capacity 750MW of power.
The smaller thermal stations – Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati – are operating below capacity with high production costs.
ZPC said it would implement new projects that would see the small stations refurbished to increase electricity production and bridge the gap between demand and supply.
“Once refurbished, the small thermals will become a reliable source of power and the cost of generation will be competitive,” the company said.
ZPC said the refurbishment could be completed within two years if funding is secured.
A recent study by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority showed that the country’s electricity generation was expected to improve in 2017 due to increased capacity expected after the completion of expansion works at Hwange.
The report showed that a cumulative capital expenditure of US$2,5 billion over five years was required to improve electricity generation in the country.