The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) has licenced 12 new power projects, including 9 independent producers (IPPs), that could generate an additional 3,500 megawatts, over three times current production.
“Out of those 12 projects which have not been implemented, three are going to be done by (state-owned) Zimbabwe Power Company,” ZERA chief executive Gloria Magombo told journalists during a media breakfast on Friday.
Of the 12 projects, five are coal-fired plants expected to generate 3500MW, while another five are mini-hydros with a projected output of 24.35MW, of which 15MW will be online in the next two months, Magombo said.
Currently, Hippo Valley and Triangle with a generating capacity of 33MW and 45MW, respectively, are contributing up to 6MW excess power to the national grid.
Other small IPPs also operational include Border Timbers (0.5MW), Duru (2.2MW), Nyamingura (1.1MW), Pungwe A (2.75MW) and Green Fuel (18,3MW) which supplies 4MW in excess power to the national grid.
Zimbabwe, which has five power stations, produces half of its peak demand of 2,200MW but the power utility ZESA is currently undertaking projects to increase capacity at Hwange and Kariba South.
Hwange has installed capacity of 920mw but produces only 500MW due to the antiquated machinery, but there are plans to increase generation by a further 600MW. Kariba, with installed capacity of 750MW, will have an additional two 150MW units by 2017.
On Hwange, Magombo said: “There has been an (Memorandum of Agreement) which has been signed with a contractor and they are now negotiating contract implementation and finalisation.”
The Gairezi IPP had gone to tender and the adjudication was underway, she added.
Other projects in the pipeline are Sengwa (1,200MW), Lusulu (500MW), Shangano (600MW), Gwayi (600MW), Essar (600 MW) and Great Zimbabwe hydro (5MW).
She said Gwayi and China Africa projects had gone through the pre-feasibility and feasibility stages while power purchase agreements have been reached.
Shangano and Lusulu projects, she said, had gone through full feasibility stages and financial advisors had been engaged.
The Sengwa IPP was still courting potential investors and had accessed project preparation funds from the Development Bank of Southern Africa, which is assisting them to package the project.
She said a lot of projects were unable to move forward towards implementation due to lack of funding.
“There is need for someone to fund a bankable feasibility study,” said Magombo, adding that such a study would cost up to US$6 million.
Projects that have been licenced but are not operational are the Osborne Dam, Kupinga and Gwanda. Pungwe B, which generates 2.75MW, was commissioned last month, she said.
“As much as it looks small, it can actually do a lot to bring less load shedding in the country,” Magombo said.
Only one solar project has been licenced, according to Magombo.
Two licences have so far been withdrawn for a waste-to-power project and the Gairezi IPP.
She said some of the IPPs would sell their excess power to South Africa and Namibia.
About 40% of Zimbabwe’s 13 million population have access to electricity, with 90% of available power being used in urban areas, Magombo added.
The Southern Africa
Development Community (SADC) had 24% average connectivity, the least connected in Africa compared to East Africa at over 36% and West Africa at 44%.
A study commissioned by ZERA recently established that the country could save 250MW — about a quarter of the country’s current average generation — by implementing energy efficiency measures in key sectors of the economy.
Potential of making savings is highest among households where 35% of the energy is consumed.