Zimbabwe to side-step load shedding in winter

Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
ELECTRICITY users in the country should expect constant power supply during the peak winter season which is characterised by higher demand as Government is not planning any tough load shedding, but this will depend on efficient use of power by every citizen.

Addressing various stakeholders comprising tourism operators, hoteliers, environmentalists, climate change experts and Government departments during a two-day national dialogue on eco-tourism and renewable energy conference on Thursday in Victoria Falls, Energy and Power Development Permanent Secretary Engineer Gloria Magombo called on Zimbabweans to change the way they use electricity and embrace energy efficiency.

Engineer Magombo said intensive work was underway to bring back Hwange Power Station Units 1 and 6 into the grid while winter wheat farmers who are traditionally the biggest consumers during the season have been clustered to ensure consistent supply of electricity.

She said power consumption during winter will rise to about 1 700MW yet the country produces about 1 300MW and the difference will be met through imports and energy efficiency by users.

“We are going into winter which obviously has a much higher demand driven by main consumption coming from heating of homes and hotels where there is running of heating systems.

“We would want to start by saying we need all consumers to remain conscious of the fact that as a country we are still not energy sufficient and we still have to import the balance between what our demand is and what we are consuming and what we are able to produce locally. So it is important to continue to use energy efficiently, switching off where we don’t need power and making sure that for industry they use efficient equipment and load it properly.

“One other issue which is coming up is that we will be having winter wheat which needs to be irrigated and like what we did last year we have put farmers into clusters which are then working closely with ZETDC (Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company) to ensure that the supply of power for irrigation is consistent and they are able to ensure that they have irrigation at the time it is required,” said Eng Magombo.

She said there have been challenges with the ageing Hwange Power Station. However, the country has had consistent supply of electricity in the past year with minimal load shedding compared to previous years. Eng Magombo said there is a long-term plan to service the Units which will mean taking them out one at a time over a period of time for two to three years.

“However, we still have power from Kariba where dam levels are almost 50 percent now and we believe that it will be able to over-up to meet the peak because we are able to provide just over 1 300MW against a demand which will go over 1 500MW to about 1 700MW, so that difference will be met through imports.

“But we are also working with Hwange Units and we have two which we are working on now especially Unit 6 which we expect to be coming back just before we go into winter and Unit 1 which had a challenge with fire and we are hoping that it will also be back just before June. So with all those units coming back online we expect to be able to ride the winter period but energy efficiency remains a key issue which is necessary for us to reduce the cost of power.

“If Hwange stays online consistently, obviously we will be having smooth supply throughout, however, you know we are dealing with an old plant which will come out here and there maybe a day or two where we will have repairs and other challenges and for the time being, we can’t take it away that there might be a day or two where there might be a bit of load shedding but that will only target domestic so that production is maintained all the time for both industry and agriculture,” said Eng Magombo.

She said expansion of Hwange 7 and 8 is 62 percent against a target of about 80 percent as the rehabilitation work was derailed by Covid-19 in terms of manufacturing of equipment and deployment of experts coming into the country. Eng Magombo said there is significant progress being made especially on Unit 7 which will be the first to be commissioned next year as Government expects to still meet timelines. — @ncubeleon

Zimbabwe to side-step load shedding in winter