Golden Sibanda recently in Hwange
The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) is targeting to ramp up power generation at its Hwange Thermal Power Station to 700 megawatts from 484MW in preparation for higher demand during the winter period.
Hwange Power Station general manager Engineer Joshua Chirikutsi said ZPC is engaging all its coal suppliers with a view to increase coal deliveries to enable it to build stock levels from just over 200 000 tonnes to about 300 000 tonnes.
The thermal power station requires a minimum of 115 000 tonnes from each of its two major suppliers, Hwange Colliery Company and Makomo Resources, for its normal consumption.
As such, it is engaging the coal miners to request them to seek ways to increase supply to 150 000 tonnes each per month in order for the power plant to build sufficient stock ahead of the beginning of winter in two months when demand is higher.
ZPC would also want each of the smaller suppliers such as Coal Zim and Coal Brick to double deliveries to the power station from about 10 000 tonnes per month to around 20 000 tonnes to help build the reserves.
Demand for power increases in winter due to more usage by farmers for the winter wheat farming, but also due to higher usage by domestic consumers who require energy for heating purposes.
Hwange thermal power station, with installed capacity of 920MW, can only produce to a maximum of 700MW as its capacity is now constrained by the advanced age of equipment at the station, which requires regular servicing as it has outlived its design lifespan.
This also comes against the backdrop of acute shortage of power with production currently averaging 1100MW against peak period demand for power of 2200MW. The deficit is bridged through imports from the regional utilities.
“We are here as the board to familiarise ourselves with the operations and challenges the station is facing especially as they seek to increase production ahead of the winter period,” said ZPC board chairman Engineer Stanley Kazhanje on Thursday last week.
Engineer Chirikutsi said the engagement of major coal suppliers comes as the suppliers are facing production challenges emanating from prevailing cashflow constraints.
He said working capital challenges had seen the major suppliers delivering only about 100 000 tonnes per month instead of the required 150 000 tonnes to build the stocks amounting to 300 000 tonnes ahead of the winter period stretching from June to July.
Along with plans to build stocks Mr Chirikutsi said the power station was also in the process of servicing its power generators with all six units to be refurbished before the beginning of the winter period. The servicing of the generators is key for the power plant to hit its generation target of 700MW.
He also pointed out that one of the major problems the power station is facing in its effort to ramp up power is limited cashflows.
Zimbabwe is facing serious shortage of power as it has not invested in new generation capacity after completing units 5 and 6 in the mid-1980s.
Government is working on a number of new power projects including extension of 750MW Kariba South by another 300MW and Hwange thermal station by 600MW.
This will bring the country to excess generation by 2018 in line with its medium economic policy, Zim-Asset, targets to be self- sufficient.