ZIMBABWE last week lost 160 Megawatts of power after one of the only reliable generation station Hwange Unit Five went down, further crippling power supply at a time authorities are battling to secure more imports from regional power suppliers.
The latest development saw power company Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) implementing increased load shedding times, a week after the programme was eased after the country struck a deal with South Africa power generator Eskom to improve supplies.
Zesa agreed to pay $890 000 per week towards settling its debt with Eskom estimated at US$23 million.
In an interview yesterday, Zesa acting chief executive officer Engineer Patrick Chivaura said the Unit was likely to be back on the grip this week and ease electricity shortages. Eng Chivaura said the fault developed last Sunday and engineers have been working tirelessly to bring the unit back to fire.
“We lost about 160MW from Unit Five at Hwange Power Station on 18 August 2019 and returning today (yesterday) for service in the evening and we should see an improvement,” he said.
Eng Chivaura said once Unit Five was back on line this would reduce load shedding hours in the affected areas. According to power update by Zimbabwe Power Company, Hwange Power Station was only producing 323MW of electricity by Friday out of the total 709MW that the country was producing.
At full throttle, Hwange Power Station, the largest coal-powered power station in the country, has capacity to generate 920MW
Eng Chivaura also allayed fears that Zesa has been failing to service its debt with Eskom. He said Eskom has been honouring its commitment to supply Zimbabwe since the latest deal was struck.
“We are getting power from Eskom, South Africa continuously as contracted, there has been no curtailment. The maximum from Eskom is 400MW,” he said.
Eng Chivaura said the country was also getting power from Hydro Cahora Bassa (HCB) of Mozambique to ease power shortages in the country.
“We are receiving 50MW from HCB according to our contract at US6cents /Kwhr flat rate. There are no conditions given save an expectation for the outstanding debt being paid. HCB has been sympathetic to our plight and I give props to them,” he said.
Zimbabwe has been battling serious power shortages that have seen some areas across the country going for more than 20 hours a day without power. The situation has been made worse by the decreasing water levels in the Kariba dam which powers the country’s hydroelectric power station — Kariba.
Apart from the issues surrounding water levels, almost all power stations in the country are generating below capacity due to ageing equipment.