The breakdown of five out of six units at the Hwange Thermal Power Plant has compounded existing electricity challenges Zimbabwe is facing with some customers enduring power cuts lasting more than 24 hours.
The country’s power utility, ZESA Holdings, is expected to bring online two new units at the Hwange Thermal Power Plant in the coming weeks to add 600MW to the national grid.
However, due to constant breakdowns at Zimbabwe’s largest coal-fired power station, which has seen output falling to less than 9 percent of its designed capacity of 920MW in recent days, there is little hope that units 7 and 8 will change anything.
An energy expert, Gerald Tasara, told Business Weekly that the new units will not make any big difference in terms of the national power supply. He said:
Ideally Units 7 and 8 should be adding 600 MW to the exiting capacity but the problem is the frequency of breakdown of the existing plant.
Most of the units have already reached the end of their life span.
What will be churned out by the two units will be effectively replacing the current capacity and this won’t make any big difference in terms of delivering additional energy onto the national grid.
This won’t make any big difference in terms of the national power supply.
However, we can take comfort from the dependability or reliability of the new units as this may stabilise the power supply situation.
The new units were scheduled to start operation in November last year, but both are still offline.
The Hwange Power Station comprises six units, four are 120MW units commissioned between 1983 and 1986 and the other two are 220MW units commissioned in 1987.
All six units have outlived their life spans by at least eight years.
A ZESA official was recently quoted as saying the plant is now 38 years old and its designed life is 30 years.
Energy and Power Development Minister Zhemu Soda said that the Hwange Power Station will be decommissioned after commissioning Units 7 and 8. – (Pindula)