Sakunda Holdings has engaged government to reactivate the Dema diesel power plant to reduce power supply shortages currently facing the country.
BY MISHMA CHAKANYUKA/FARAI MATIASHE
The multi-million-dollar power plant, which was set up in 2016, stopped producing electricity 18 months ago after the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) decided to purchase power from Eskom in South Africa considering costs associated with the Dema power plant.
Recently, ZETDC began rationing power countrywide to curb power shortages following Eskom’s incapacity to continue supplying the country with electricity, while low water levels at Kariba Dam have affected power generation.
Addressing journalists during a tour of the plant by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Energy and Development yesterday, Sakunda Holdings group chief operating officer Mberikwazvo Chitambo said they had stopped producing power because ZETDC was no longer purchasing their electricity.
“Our customer is the government from day one and they saw it fit after mid-2017 to purchase power from other sources and they said to us, they do not require power from us because they had enough. By then Eskom was exporting power to Zimbabwe, and there was no drought,” he said.
“Now there is drought and Eskom cannot export to Zimbabwe, we need to, therefore, continue the discussions which are already underway. We need to reactivate and restart this plant so that it can inject power as quickly as possible onto the national grid.”
Dema power plant had an installed capacity to produce 200 megawatts with 228 generators, but it was later reduced to produce 100 megawatts with 111 generators.
Speaking at the same event, Aggreko Zimbabwe acting operations manager, Greg Rock, said the power plant consumes a lot of diesel to generate electricity.
“We do not run 24 hours. The plant is run five to 10 hours per day basing on the requirements by ZETDC. Twenty-five thousand to 27 000 litres of diesel are needed to produce the 100 megawatts. Diesel is not the cheapest, but there is no option considering it is used as a standby power generator,” he said.
During the time that ZETDC was buying electricity from the plant, it purchased it at US$13,45 per kilowatt/hour.
“This is a project that has been put to waste. The power produced is very unaffordable. It is very expensive, but at the same time, we are at a time when there is no enough electricity. The government will have to make a decision whether to import power or buy locally even though the local power is expensive,” energy committee chairperson Gabbuza Joel Gabuza said.