ENERGY and Power Development minister Soda Zhemu (pictured) says the nation will now rely on power imports, among other sources, to avert the energy crisis worsened by the fast-receding water level at Kariba South Hydropower Station.
The Kariba South Bank plant provides the nation with around 70% of electricity and has been producing significantly less than its capacity of 1 050 megawatts in recent years due to a declining water level caused by droughts.
Addressing the media in Harare yesterday, Zhemu said the country, through the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa), will import electricity from the region.
“The ministry has come up with measures through its utility Zesa and IPPs (independent power producers) to mitigate the challenges. In the immediate term, Zesa is currently negotiating for additional imports from the current suppliers. More power will also be secured through SAPP (Southern African Power Pool) market,” said Zhemu.
The Kariba plant has been generating 572 megawatts (MW) of the 782MW of electricity produced in the country, according to the website of the state-run Zimbabwe Power Company.
Although imports were the first of the many measures announced by the minister, Zimbabwe has a bad record of settling power import debts from South Africa.
In March 2020, Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube paid the last US$890 000 of a US$3 million debt to Eskom.
Other measures announced by Zhemu include increasing production from local power generation installations.
“ZPC will ramp up production at Hwange Power Station to average 400MW, small thermals to produce a combined total of 45MW, support will be given to IPPs to enable them to produce at maximum capacity,” said Zhemu.
He added that Hwange Unit 7 will start contributing to power supply later this month and the commissioning of Unit 8 would follow.
“Unit 7 of Hwange is undergoing commissioning and will start feeding power into the grid. Soon after, commissioning of Unit 8 will follow,” he said.
Zhemu urged consumers to reduce consumption for this period.
“The ministry urges all consumers to reduce load by employing energy conservation and efficiency measures. Lights must be switched off in all offices at night and other measures like right sizing of equipment, use of energy savers,” he added.
The government will also embark on a solar power plant at Caledonia Mine/Blanket 12MW, Richo Solar 1.3 MW and Guruve 1.2MW.