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Three power stations face decommissioning

The government has asked ZESA Holdings to evaluate the efficacy and efficiency of three small thermal power stations, Bulawayo, Harare, and Munyati, and devise a clear strategy on how to move forward.

This may result in the decommissioning of the three power plants which are now very old, with some dating back as far as 72 years ago.

Speaking to The Standard in an interview on the sidelines of the fourth International Renewable Energy Conference and Expo held in Victoria Falls last week, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, Gloria Magombo said:

So, these are old technologies, which are fairly inefficient. Over the years, there were some modifications and investments, which were meant to allow them to extend their life, but with the ultimate view that every asset after a specific time has to be decommissioned and new technologies or alternatively totally new technologies can then be installed.

So, we are in the process where we want ZESA to look at the efficacy, of their efficiency levels and come up with a clear strategy in terms of how they want to move forward on those, which is looking at all options, including decommissioning them.

As government, we are saying look at its use, the cost of keeping them going in terms of a clear cost-benefit analysis and then you advise us as government in terms of the most cost-effective way to continue having them there. They are ailing and it’s expected.

They are really old and they’ve really outlived their time, but we have run them because when we have a critical shortage, every small little megawatt counts.

A typical issue to do with such plans, if you remember they were built during the time when they were really saving the cities at the time.

Magombo said ZESA should evaluate all possible options and then make a recommendation to the government.

She said the government, as the shareholder, would then decide the way forward. Said Magombo:

They’re obviously the most expensive to run at the moment because of the movement of coal.

They don’t use thermal coal like what Hwange uses. Hwange uses what we refer to as thermal coal, but these power stations use special coal, which is much more expensive.

On 24 March 2023, both Bulawayo and Harare were not producing any electricity, whereas Munyati was generating 18 megawatts.

According to the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), Munyati thermal power station originally had a capacity of 120MW but currently operates at a capacity of 100MW.

Harare Power Station currently has a dependable capacity of 50MW, while Bulawayo Power Station had an installed capacity of 120MW which was downgraded to the current 90MW. – (Pindula)

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