Energy and Power Development Minister Soda Zhemu has announced that Hwange Thermal Power Station Unit 7 will be back online on Monday, adding 300MW to the national output.
The unit was recently taken off the national grid for further tests, but after completing reliability tests, it is now ready for final commissioning, the minister said.
He said this will significantly reduce load-shedding and boost industrial productivity in Zimbabwe. Hwange Unit 7 was successfully synchronised to the national grid at the end of March.
Responding to inquiries from Senators on Thursday, Minister Zhemu said:
It was being run on commissioning tests where they were testing the turbine running capacity, which was successful and also the boiler hydraulics. What happened is that after running it for the period of the tests, they took it out of the grid in order for technicians to do evaluations before the unit is run on a commercial basis.
Minister Zhemu also announced that during Unit 8 synchronization, engineers found an issue after about three hours, causing the unit to be taken off the grid for attention.
They have been working on the unit and according to what they had pre-determined at a time when they took it off the grid, the unit was supposed to be tied back to the grid today (Thursday).
Minister Zhemu stated that he had not yet received information from the power utility regarding the matter. He also announced that 600 megawatts would be added to the national power grid before the end of the month. 300 megawatts would come from the expansion project on commercial availability and 300 megawatts from Unit 8 on commercial test.
The additional power is expected to improve power availability, especially after Kariba’s power generation increase due to additional water allocation. ZESCO and ZESA met with the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), which manages water resources, to make the allocation possible.
Zimbabwe’s electricity output has improved to around 990MW, compared to below 400MW earlier this year, due to increased water allocations at Kariba Hydro-Thermal Power Station and the Hwange Unit 7 and 8 expansion project. The expansion project cost approximately US$1.4 billion. After the rehabilitation of all six units, Hwange will be able to produce a maximum of 1 520MW, with 920MW from units 1 to 6 and 600MW from Units 7 and 8. The project began in 2018 but experienced unforeseen challenges. – (Pindula)