CAPE TOWN – Zimbabwe’s state-owned Zesa Holdings Ltd. escalated power cuts to as long as 24 hours after losing regional power imports and local generation capacity remains critically constrained.
The power utility has a non-binding agreement to import as much as 400 megawatts of power from South Africa’s Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., which is unable to meet local demand and has implemented rolling blackouts, now in their sixth day in SA.
“Load-shedding is thus being implemented over and above the advertised schedule,” Zesa said in an emailed statement Tuesday.
Zimbabwe has been experiencing daily outages of as much as 18 hours daily owing to a drought that has slashed its hydropower supply. The situation is exacerbated by frequent breakdowns at its main thermal power station, Hwange.
Meanwhile in South Africa, the energy crisis eased as state power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. scrambled to repair broken plants and supplemented supply using gas turbines and pumped-storage facilities.
Load shedding, should be limited to 2,000 megawatts on Wednesday — down from a peak of 6,000 megawatts on Monday — and are expected to end next week, Eskom said in an emailed statement. The outages temporarily interrupted production at several mines, disrupted mobile-phone services and weighed on the rand.
“As the generating plant continues to perform at low levels of reliability, any unexpected shift, such as an increase in unplanned breakdowns, could result in a change in the load-shedding stage at short notice,” Eskom said. “We continue to ask customers to reduce demand.”