Zambia forced into load-shedding
ZAMBIA is introducing load-shedding while optimising power generation at its hydro-power stations following the directive by the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) to reduce power generation at Kariba, as water levels are continuing to drop.
The country and Zimbabwe share Lake Kariba for power generation and have stations that have a combined capacity of 2 080 megawatts (MW).
This week, the ZRA called for suspension of power generation at Kariba South Power Station, which is run by Zimbabwe, due to a fast-receding water level, which can be detrimental to power generation.
The Zambian government has proposed a load-shedding schedule from 15 December, while scaling up power generation, to avoid shutdown of its hydro-power station.
Zimbabwe, on the other hand, has already been on a long load shedding schedule which has seen residential areas going for over 18 hours without power.
“The low water level situation in the Lake Kariba threatens the power generation for both the Kariba North Bank Hydropower station (Zambian side) and Kariba South Bank Hydropower station (Zimbabwean side).
“ZESCO will implement a load management regime aimed at rationing power generation at the Kariba Complex to avoid a complete shutdown. This will be done with the view to minimise the impact on key economic sectors as well as preservation of the integrity of generation units at the Kariba Complex.
“We anticipate that based on the water levels, this will translate into a load management regime starting on 15th December 2022 of up to a maximum of six hours daily until the water levels improve,” said Peter Kapala, Zambian energy minister, while addressing Parliament.
Kapala also said Zimbabwe’s northern neighbour will fast-track power generation projects to back up the hydro-power station while increasing resilience to climate change which has seen suspension of operations on the south bank power station operated by Zimbabwe.
‘‘Projects such as the Global Energy Transfer Feed in Tariff (GET FiT) Zambia that has a bankable portfolio of six solar Photovoltaic (PV) projects amounting to 120MW peak and the recently advertised 3x50MW peak of solar power plants.
“We shall also tap from existing generation which are operated by private players with the view to optimise power dispatch to mitigate the impact of the reduced generation from the Kariba Complex. Additionally, should the situation warrant it, consideration shall be made to import power from the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) when available,” he said.
Kapala said Zesco will optimise generation at all its hydro-power stations in Zambia to (Kariba North Bank, Victoria Falls, Small Hydros, Kafue Gorge and Kafue Gorge Lower power stations).
‘‘It is expected that this will complement the generation from the Kariba Complex to Mid-January 2023 when the water inflows are expected to start improving in the Kariba reservoir,’’ he said.
Lake Kariba is the largest man-made reservoir in the world, with a holding capacity of 181 billion cubic metres of water.
In 2022, the ZRA allocated a combined total of 45 billion cubic metres (45 BCM) of water to Zesco and ZPC for power generation at the Kariba Complex, which has been shared equally between Zesco Limited and Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) with each utility to utilize 22.5 billion cubic metres of water respectively for the year 2022.
After depleting its allocation, Zimbabwe is likely to endure a dark Christmas, with energy experts predicting a return to normalcy in March after a projected increase in water inflows into Lake Kariba, and completion of the Hwange Thermal Power Station expansion project.