‘Depressed grid threatens post Covid-19 industry recovery’

THE Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) says there is a need to urgently address depressed power generation in the country to ensure adequate supply when full scale industrial production resumes post Covid-19.

Due to persistent technical faults, the country’s largest thermal power station in Hwange was generating about 172MW as of yesterday against installed capacity of 920MW, according to the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC).

The country’s combined output was at 1 027MW yesterday with Kariba Hydro Power Station producing more at 825MW while small thermals Munyati and Harare stood at 15MW each with Bulawayo at zero.

The Covid-19 lockdown measures have worsened the situation as expatriate engineers are hindered by travel restrictions while importation of spares has also become cumbersome.

Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, poor electricity supply was one of the major drawbacks affecting productivity by the local companies. Despite improvement early this year, the power utility recently announced a return of power cuts, which has left both business and domestic consumers worried.

ZNCC vice president, Mr Golden Muoni, said given the prevailing subdued power generation capacity, electricity challenges facing companies are expected to continue when production returns to normal.

“Right now, given the Covid-19 pandemic there is not much of production happening and obviously there is not much of power consumption except for domestic consumption. But obviously when production is back to normal, it means we are going to have more problems,” said Mr Muoni.

In an update for the second quarter ended June 30, 2020, ZPC indicated that it missed its power supply target by 20 percent to 1384,46 gigawatt hours against a target of 1732,56GWh. The power utility said output for the period under review was 38,64 percent below the output for the same period last year. The supply gap has kept Zimbabwe on the import path for years, which drains scarce foreign currency.

“In the reporting period, ZPC sent out a total of 1384,46GWh against a target of 1732,56GWh. The output is 20,09 percent below target, and 38,64 percent below the output for the same period in 2019,” said ZPC in a statement.

To date the power generation company has sent out 2678,32GWh, which is equivalent to 80 percent of the target for the half year.

“Hwange Power Station generated with an average of three units during the quarter and sent out 618,44GWh of energy, missing its quarterly target by 38,40 percent. This was due to the unavailability of Units 3 and 6, which have been on extended outages due to delays caused by the Covid-19 travel restrictions as well as lack of funding.

“Unit 5 was also unavailable throughout the month of June owing to ID fan problems, thus compromising the station’s output,” it said.

Kariba South Power Station generated an average of seven units during the quarter and sent out 747,69GWh of energy, surpassing the quarterly target by 19,69 percent. Kariba had to ramp up power generation in May and June to compensate for low generation at the thermal power stations.

“This was enabled by a 0,5 billion meters increase in water allocation by the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA).

“The small thermals missed their quarterly target of 103,96GWh by 82,38 percent. Generation was constrained as a result of frequent coal stock outs at Munyati and Bulawayo power stations. Frequent failure of the plant across all the small thermals resulted in low plant availability and potential generation loss,” said ZPC.

The Zambezi River Authority allocated a total of 22 billion cubic metres (bcm) of water for power generation to Zesco of Zambia and Kariba power plant and this translated to 11bcm per utility at an average capacity of 275MW. Improved inflows in Kariba dam led to an upward review of water allocation by 0,5 bcm to each utility effective May 1, 2020, hence raising the water allocation to 11,5bcm.

The annual average capacity was thus increased from 275MW to 294MW. ZPC said it was agreed that the additional allocation be spread during the winter period when demand was high, thus, increasing the target average generation to 337MW.

On the US$1.4 billion Hwange expansion project, the power generation company said during the period under review, the project was exposed to high impact risk events, which affected its progress with Covid-19 having had serious implications on the project as personnel cannot travel to or from China for manufacturing and procurement of equipment. The project is now 47,5 percent complete against a planned progress of 57 percent.

Progress made during the quarter includes design component of the project, which is now 92 percent complete. Reviews for technical specifications and detail designs are ongoing for power plant and transmission and distribution works.

“During this reporting period, Sino-hydro progressed with both excavations and foundation construction work. Concrete construction for Units 7 and 8 structural foundations is now complete. Unit 7 steel structure installation is in progress at 96 percent complete,” said ZPC.–chronicle.co.zw

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *