ZPC granted licence to increase generation by 600MW

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) has been granted a licence to begin Hwange Power Station (HPS)’ expansion project aimed at increasing power generation capacity by 600 megawatts (MW).

Its spokesperson, Fadzai Chisveto, said the thermal power producer had applied for a new licence that enables it to construct, own, operate and maintain HPS.

The licence, granted by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority, also allows the company to supply electricity to any transmission, distribution or supply licensee who purchases electricity for resale.

The station, the country’s largest coal-fired power plant, is currently using six units and the expansion would see the addition of two more units, with a combined generation capacity of 600 MW.

However, construction work at the power station was delayed after China Machinery and Engineering Company (CMEC), which had been awarded the tender failed to provide a funding plan to get the project off the ground, 14 months after winning the bid.

This forced the government to re-award the tender to another Chinese company, Sino Hydro Corporation (Sino Hydro) — which in September last year started constructing two generation units at the Kariba hydro power station to add 300 MW.

CMEC tendered its bid at $1,38 billion while Sino Hydro’s bid price was $1,17 billion.

Experts say the project, due to take 42 months to complete, will significantly improve the power situation in the southern African country.

Zimbabwe produces 1 200 MW of power against peak demand of 2 200 MW, which means industry and households have to endure regular power cuts.

To close this energy gap, government has been working on re-powering small thermals at Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati.

Zimbabwe is also working with the Zambian government to build the Batoka Gorge power station which is expected to generate 1 600 MW of electricity to be shared equally by the two countries when complete.

The Hwange Thermal Power Station has a design capacity of 920 MW, but produces less than half that due to ageing equipment and years of inadequate funding to maintain the plant.

ZPC is owed more than $900 million by debtors and over the last three years has been introducing pre-paid meters, where customers pay in advance for their power.

Josh Chifamba, the chief executive of ZPC’s holding company Zesa

Holdings, recently said that to generate more revenue, the pre-paid meters would be introduced to industry and farmers, who are some of the biggest consumers of electricity.

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