via Crippling power shortage looms – NewsDay Zimbabwe August 28, 2015
ZIMBABWE’s biggest power producer the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) could be forced to shut down for two months in a move that is likely to plunge the country into darkness.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
In a statement yesterday, ZPC confirmed that water level problems being faced by the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) would force generation capacity to go down by almost 50% in the next few months.
“The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) has done an analysis of the situation and made presentations to stakeholders, including the two power utilities namely ZESCO (Zambian electricity producer) and ZPC.
“It has been determined that continuing at current levels of power generation would result in the lake falling below the minimum drawdown level of 475,5 metres before the onset of the next rainy season, hopefully in November 2015, with a possible shut-down of the station for two months,” ZPC said.
“The water allocation was then revised downwards from 45 to 40 billion cubic metres shared equally between ZESCO and ZPC operating the power stations on the northern and southern banks respectively”.
According to ZPC, during the hydrological years of 2014 to 2015, Lake Kariba received significantly lower water inflows “compared to last year and the long-term mean flows”.
“This, coupled with high generation at the Kariba complex, has resulted in the lake level continuing to decline.
The lake level at the end of July 2015 was 480,81 metres above sea level. This is 1,05% or five metres below the lake level for the same period in 2014 which was set at 485,91 metres,” ZPC said.
With President Robert Mugabe’s government grappling with a debilitating economic crisis, the power crisis that has continued to dog the already desperate economic situation is likely to keep investors on the fence.
Early this week in his State of the Nation Address, Mugabe outlined his government’s 10-point plan of action meant to revitalise the economy including resuscitation of the manufacturing sector.
Energy will need to play a key role in this plan and the gloomy situation at Kariba will not help matters.
ZPC said ZRA had allowed Kariba North (Zambia) to generate 305 megawatts (MW), while Kariba South (Zimbabwe) would generate 405MW of electricity down from its current average of 705MW.
Zimbabwe requires just over 2 000MW of electricity at peak consumption.