Zimbabwe’s recent spate of load shedding is expected to worsen for the next two weeks after the state-owned power utility announced plans to resume work on the Kariba Dam Rehabilitation project.
Zimbabwe is supposed to get 1050MW from Kariba Hydro Power Station but the power plant has been averaging 650MW in recent days. The work on the Kariba rehabilitation project will result in even more reduced power generation capacity, and therefore more supply woes for the country.
Zimbabwe has a total installed capacity of 2382MW but as of Tuesday, the power stations were generating a combined 1055MW resulting in load shedding that is crippling industry and plunging households into darkness.
Another 920MW is supposed to be generated at Hwange Thermal Power Station but the old power plants have been averaging 350MW against a maximum demand forecast of 1650MW.
The Kariba project had been temporarily shelved in December last year, resulting in minimal load shedding during the festive season.
“Following the Zambezi River Authority’s request to reduce generation levels at the Kariba North and Kariba South power stations, some units at the Kariba South Power Station will be taken out of service daily to allow for completion of critical works on the dam wall, resulting in reduced generation levels and load curtailment,” the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) said on Tuesday.
The project was first announced in 2015 and according to the World Bank will cost a total $294 million (about R4.5 billion). This was after more than 50 years of providing power for the Southern African Region. The program is to be implemented over ten years, taking into account the need to continue operating the dam safely with minimal interruptions to power generation.
The project involves re-shaping of the Kariba Dam plunge pool to address safety deficiencies as well as the refurbishment of six flood gates to enhance operational control of reservoir releases.