ZIMBABWE is currently facing huge power deficits.
The disruption in power supply has caused serious inconveniences to domestic, commercial, industrial and farming consumers.
Power cuts drastically affected the conduct of business nationwide to an extent that some operations that require uninterrupted power supplies had to shut down or limited the scale of operations, while others resorted to expensive and unsustainable alternative power sources such as diesel power generation.
It has been established that power is critical to economic development and that there is a positive correlation between reliable power supply and growth in gross domestic product (GDP).
Mining houses and other heavy industries are the worst affected by these power cuts as they require higher and uninterrupted power supplies in order to operate viably.
For example, chrome furnaces have high energy demands as temperatures reaching 1 200 degrees celcius are required to produce high carbon ferro-chrome.
Chrome smelting companies like the Zimbabwe Iron and Smelting Company (ZIMASCO) in Kwekwe require 16 megawatts (MW) for a single furnace and if ZIMASCO operates all its five furnaces simultaneously that will require 90MW.
Smaller thermal plants such as Munyati (currently producing 30MW) will not be able to meet ZIMASCO’s requirements at those production levels.
The main national grid power production (excluding small private power producers) as at February 17, 2016, posted on the ZESA website is as shown in Table 1.
Our power currently is generated from two sources namely thermal and hydro with Hwange Thermal Power Station and Kariba Hydro Power Station, respectively being the main power producers.
With industry operating at between 25 percent and 30 percent capacity, our requirement for energy is estimated at 2 200MW.
Assuming that industry grows its capacity to 70 percent in the next five years and that mining and agriculture continue to grow at current paces, the demand for energy in Zimbabwe could double to 4 400MW in the next five years.
Incapacity to meet current and anticipated future national power requirements will cripple our economic recovery efforts unless massive power investments are made.
ZESA’s generation capacity, as at February 17, 2016, was only 845 MW: Against a projected demand of 2 200 MW, this results in a deficit of 1 355 MW or 62 percent deficit.
Although the installed capacity of Zimbabwe power stations is 1 940 MW, we are producing 845 MW which is only 44 percent of installed capacity.
According to ZESA statistics as at February 17, 2016, Hwange has an installed capacity of 900MW, but was producing 476MW, which is 56,33 percent of national power output. At times, Hwange produces much lower power due to frequent equipment breakdowns.
Kariba with an installed capacity of 750 MW is producing 285 MW, which is 33,73 percent of national power output. This is due to the current lower water levels on Lake Kariba and other technical challenges.
Combined Hwange and Kariba are producing 761 MW, which is 56,33 percent and 33,73 percent, respectively or 90,06 percent of total power output of 845 MW.
At our current national power production levels, it goes without saying that unless there is strong political will and significant investments in rehabilitation of existing power plants and in new power generation, our economic turnaround endeavours will remain like “a pie in the sky”. They will not be realised.
Currently, our power deficit is being met by expensive power imports from ESCOM, South Africa, Cahora Bassa, Mozambique, and Sinai, the Democratic Republic of Congo at an average cost of US$0,155/kWh. This is economically unsustainable as ZESA sells the same power to consumers at a subsidised rate of US$0,986/kWh.
As at February 17, 2016 ZESA national grid statistics, actual thermal power generated in Zimbabwe was 66,27 percent of the total power output of 845MW, split as Hwange (56,33 percent) and the smaller thermal power stations: Harare (3,55 percent), Bulawayo (2,84 percent) and Munyati (3,55 percent).
The installed capacity generation of thermal power stations in Zimbabwe is 1 190 MW, which is 61 percent of the country’s installed capacity of 1 940MW.
Zimbabwe is endowed with enormous coal resources. According to geological experts, Zimbabwe has coal reserves amounting to 30 billion tonnes and at current levels of exploitation; it will take more than 100 years to exploit all coal reserves.
Zimbabwe can use these coal reserves strategically to generate its power requirements and to create excess power for export. What Zimbabwe needs to do is to invest in environmentally sustainable technologies that reduce carbon emissions. Advanced technologies that capture carbon emissions and use the gas for other commercial activities have been developed in some countries which rely on thermal power.
Seventy-four percent of power generated in the Southern African Development Community region is from coal (thermal power). Eighty-one percent of coal produced in South Africa is for power generation. South Africa’s ESCOM generates about 77 percent of South Africa power requirements from coal.
At generation levels as at February 17, 2016, Zimbabwe was generating 33,73 percent of its main grid power from water. Kariba is the flagship hydro power station followed by smaller hydro plants at Chisumbanje, Triangle, Duru, Pungwe, Honde Valley to mention a few. Most of the smaller hydro plants do not, however, feed into the main grid.
Hydro generation capacity in Zimbabwe can be doubled from the current capacity of about 850MW through rehabilitation and expansion of generation capacity at Kariba South (a project underway and expected to generate an additional 300MW)and the development of new projects such as the Batoka Gorge Project (expected to generate 1 600MW).
Smaller hydro power stations in Manicaland (i.e. Duru: 2,2MW, Pungwe A: 2,75MW, Nyamingwa: 1.1MW, Triangle: 45MW, Hippo: 33 MW, Pungwe B: 15MW) can be developed to produce an additional 100MW into the national grid.
In order to address the current power challenges in Zimbabwe, we are calling on government to focus not only on fossil fuels such as coal, but on alternative and sustainable renewable power resources such as water, wind, and solar.
Zimbabwe is endowed with sun, water and wind and needs to develop or adopt technology that makes harvesting of power from renewable resources cheaper.
The country has the potential to meet most of its energy requirements from these sustainable renewable resources. Renewable energy resources are sustainable since they can be used over and over again without them running out (depleting).
Renewable power will be produced sustainably at zero carbon emission, thus protecting our environment and reducing global warming.
If water sources at Kariba and in Manicaland are fully developed, Zimbabwe has the potential of producing 1 150MW, which is 52 percent of current national requirement of 2 200MW. (Example: Kariba Main 750MW, Kariba South 300MW, Manicaland hydro-stations 100MW). If the Kariba South and Batoka Gorge projects were to be completed, Zimbabwe could produce 2 750MW and be able to meet all its current power requirements from water at zero carbon emission!
Madagascar has embarked on a rural electrification programme using wind energy. In North Madagascar, for example, four villages comprising of 5 000 villagers, have benefitted from electricity generated from wind turbines. Wind-generated power is being produced at zero carbon emissions. It is expected that 50 percent of villages in Madagascar can be electrified in 10 years through wind energy thus meeting 20 percent of Madagascar’s energy requirements.
Morocco has also embarked on one of the world’s largest solar energy project that will produce 2 000MW by 2020 at an estimated cost of US$9 billion. During this period five power stations will be constructed through the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy.
This solar energy project is a public private sector partnership which on completion in 2020 will contribute 38 percent of Morocco annual electricity generation. The first phase Noor 1, producing 160MW was commissioned in February 2016.
Zimbabwe, like Morocco and Madagascar, is well endowed in renewable energy sources. As part of the global drive to reduce global warming, as was declared at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21, in France in January, 2016, Zimbabwe should seriously consider developing appropriate technology to harness power from renewable resources.
Renewable Energy Feed in Tariffs
As a measure to promote use of renewable energy as an alternative source of energy in Zimbabwe, the government, through the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) is developing a regulatory policy framework on Renewable Energy Feed in Tariffs (Refits). The Refits policy framework once approved into law will make it mandatory for power utilities operating in the national power grid to purchase electricity from renewable energy sources.
It is further reported that ZERA has engaged clean energy consultants, CAMCO, to develop Refit for the county’s electricity supply.
Zimbabwe does not produce power from nuclear sources. South Africa is the only country in Africa that produces power from nuclear energy.
South Africa produces about 2 000 MW from nuclear resources at Koeberg nuclear power plant station in the Cape Province. Nuclear energy contributes two percent to the energy requirements for South Africa.
According to geological reports, Zimbabwe could potentially have uranium deposits. If these deposits are economic to mine, Zimbabwe could in future generate nuclear energy.
Allen Choruma can be contacted on e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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