HARARE – The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) will cut electricity generation by a third to 475 megawatts (MW) at the Kariba hydro power plant due to low water levels, the company said on Thursday, and this is likely to worsen daily power cuts.
Kariba produces half of Zimbabwe’s electricity. The cutback will also affect Zambia which draws water from Kariba Dam.
The southern African country is producing a maximum 1,345 MW of power, half its peak demand, forcing local industries to use costly diesel generators to keep operations running. Electricity shortages have been blamed for keeping away potential investors.
ZPC said in a statement that generating power at current levels of 705 MW would lower water at Kariba Dam below minimum accepted levels before the start of the rainy season in November.
This would result in “a possible shut down of the station for the next two months,” ZPC said.
Chinese company Sino Hydro is adding another 300 MW to Kariba, a project which should be completed by the end of 2018.
PC has previously said Zimbabwe plans to build new power stations to generate 3,500 megawatts at a cost of $5 billion to end chronic power cuts that have damaged the economy. (Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by James Macharia and William Hardy) Energy-starved Zimbabwe will suffer longer and more frequent power shortages for the next 10 years, a senior official said Friday.
The country’s power utility will extend blackouts until it can boost capacity, Patson Mbiriri, secretary for energy and power development told an annual congress of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries.
“By 2022 that’s when we will be able to generate enough power for domestic and industrial power,” Mbiriri said.
Zimbabwe needs about 2,200 megawatts of electricity at peak consumption but generates just below 1,300 megawatts, while relying on imports to fill the gap.
Due to ageing equipment, power generation is often disrupted following breakdowns. In most cases, the generators operate below capacity.
In recent months, Zimbabwe could only afford to import 25 megawatts from nearby countries after major electricity suppliers in the region turned off the switches over non-payment of dues.
“Most of our woes in terms of blackouts will end in 2015,” Mbiriri said.
Energy Minister Elton Mangoma recently said Zimbabwe has whittled its debt to power providers to under $20 million from around $100 million in a bid to resume imports.
There are plans to revamp the northern Kariba hydro-power station and the Hwange thermal power station in the west of the country.