via Power outages to end — Minister by Fairness Moyana Sunday News 06 October 2013
THE Minister of Energy and Power Development, Cde Dzikamai Mavhaire, has assured the nation that the excessive load-shedding that is being experienced by electricity consumers is set to ease following the acquisition of spare parts that will be used in the restoration of the country’s two major power stations.
Hwange Power Station (HPS) is currently running on five units with Unit 2 undergoing repair and inspection, translating to power being generated at 445MW instead of 738MW at full throttle. The station, which was commissioned in 1984 and 1987 and is nearing its lifespan of between 25-30 years, has four 120MW Stage one units and two 220MW units.
In an interview with Sunday News on the sidelines of a familiarisation tour of Hwange Power Station last Thursday, Cde Mavhaire said the current situation was attributed to breakdowns at both Hwange and Kariba power stations which the power utility was working on.
The visit by the minister comes in the wake of excessive load-shedding that is being experienced in the country leading to operations in industry and other critical sectors being paralysed due to the prolonged power outages.
“The purpose of this visit is to familiarise ourselves with the operations of the station and appreciate the challenges faced by Zesa in providing electricity to the nation as well as put in place intervention measures. As you may be aware that there is a public outcry over the excessive load-shedding being undertaken by ZPC, however, I would like to assure the nation that the situation is being addressed. Load-shedding is set to ease and we will have a fair share of electricity soon,” said Cde Mavhaire.
The minister said breakdowns at HPS had become commonplace due to the aging equipment being used and since power generation was an expensive exercise, financial constraints in buying spare parts were hampering effective maintenance of the plant.
“As you are aware the plant is now old and in some cases major overhauls need to be carried out to ensure that the units work effectively. This of course requires financial commitment. As Government we are working on making funds available for the plant to undergo serious maintenance,” he said.
Cde Mavhaire said investors from China and India had shown interest in bankrolling power generation projects in the country with major expansion projects earmarked for Hwange and Kariba stations which would result in 600MW and 300MW respectively being added to the national grid.
Briefing the ministerial delegation on the challenges being faced by the utility in providing uninterrupted power supply to the national grid, HPS general manager, Mr Arnold Chivurayise said the current power generation was below installed capacity due to the old plant which resulted in an increase in the number of power trips caused by grid disturbances.
Mr Chivurayise said cash flow constraints in purchasing spares was a major hindrance as suppliers were demanding cash upfront before manufacturing the components required by the company.
“Honourable Minister, we are faced with a difficult situation when it comes to acquisition of spares for our aging plant as most of our suppliers demand cash upfront or half down before manufacturing the required spares. When they are done they hold on to the item until the rest of the money is paid and that has adversely affected the operations of the station,” he said.
Mr Chivurayise said ZPC was set to construct a mini-hydro power station at Gairezi which would produce 30MW while technical surveys were under way on the Batoka Gorge project, a joint venture between Zesco and ZPC which would see 1 600MW being produced.