Ahead of the 2022 Christmas holidays, power utility ZESA said the much touted Hwange 7 will be switched on soon as its top executives would spend the festive season at the power station where testing was underway.
Indeed, there were reports of the experts at work throughout the holidays and to households and firms that had endured rolling power cuts, this was good news.
To them, this meant less resources allocated for expensive alternative sources like diesel-powered generators.
Despite so much said, two weeks on, Hwange 7, regarded as a panacea to the power crisis, is still to come on board.
The power station will add 300MW to the national grid which will go a long way to ease the power challenges.
This comes after ZESA was ordered to reduce generation at its top power station, Kariba, due to low water levels and also after the power utility had exceeded its allocation for 2022 by 1.39 billion cubic metres.
ZESA and ZESCO were allocated 22.5 billion cubic metres each for 2022.
ZESCO did not utilise allocation.
The situation for Zimbabwe has been worsened by the fact that the three thermal power stations—Munyati, in the Midlands province, Bulawayo and Harare—have underperformed and did not generate electricity yesterday.
Hwange generated 415MW yesterday. The power station is unreliable as its units have aging equipment and suffer constant breakdown.
Kariba generated 163MW from an installed capacity of 1050MW.
In total, ZESA generated 578MW yesterday against demand of over 1500MW which means it has to cover the gap through power imports.
This means Hwange 7 has to come on board as of yesterday to plug the hole.
Hwange 8 which is billed to be switched on this year plus the improvement in water levels at Kariba will result in Zimbabwe attaining
The demand for electricity is set to surge as new mining projects will come on board this year.
Mines and Mining Development minister Winston Chitando recently told Business Times that some of the projects that will be at full throttle this year are Arcadia Lithium Mine, Sabi Star Mine, Bikita expansion and the Manize Steel project.
The four projects will generate about US$5.5bn, he said. As such, they will require regular supplies of electricity. The economy cannot rely on imports as the region is facing power supplies shortages. This means the electricity available will be pricey and allocated to utilities that have firm contracts.
As we reported elsewhere in this edition the Zambezi River Authority is mulling hefty penalties for power utilities that exceed their water allocations at Kariba for electricity generation.
ZRA is a joint venture outfit owned by the governments of Zimbabwe and Zambia responsible for the management of the Zambezi River waters and the Kariba Dam complex which comprises the dam wall and water storage reservoir and other associated ancillary facilities such as lake levels and river in-flows monitoring equipment.
The plans to descend heavily on power utilities that exceed their water allocations comes after ZESA exceeded its water allocation last year.
It will be a low for the power utility if it were to be penalised.