By Kudzai Chimhangwa
THE Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) has urged the manufacturing industry to take advantage of the excess power available at night after peak power demand hours for production.
Speaking at a media briefing last week ZPC chairman Richard Maasdorp said industry must take advantage of the abundant electricity available during the night to produce goods and commodities without disruptions.
“This will go a long way towards saving the energy available and providing industry with the electrical power they need,” he said.
Manufacturing companies have for long bemoaned the incessant power cuts saying they were disruptive to their business.
Speaking at the same event ZPC general manager for projects, Engineer Washington Mareya said the company had embarked on expansion projects for the Hwange and Kariba South Extension un
its in a bid to meet current and future electricity demand.
However, funding has proved to be a major hurdle as investment has not been forthcoming.
Mareya said Zimbabwe faced an acute power shortage which dates back to the year 1992 when the country began facing a net power deficit.
“The situation worsened in the year 2007 when the Southern African Power Pool also began facing a net energy deficit,” he said.
“Because our demand far outstrips our generation capacity, it is imperative that we embark on an aggressive generation expansion drive in order to meet demand.”
The projects are being implemented in four phases namely review phase, engineering phase, construction and commissioning phase and the warranty phase.
Hwange 7 and 8 units are expected to be upgraded to 600 MegaWatts (MW) at a cost of US$1,83 billion while the Kariba South 7 and 8 units would be upgraded to 300MW at a cost of US$771 million.
However, funding has continued to be a major stumbling block towards the timely completion of projects.
Mareya said that the mini-hydro power plants would be prioritised under public-private partnerships.
These include the Gairezi to produce 30MW at US$90 million, Mutirikwi to produce 5MW at US$10 million and Manyuchi to produce 1,4MW at US$3 million.
The review phase which involved feasibility studies was completed as at June 2011 while the engineering phase started concurrently with part of phase 1.
“Evaluation of tender documents is in progress and selection of suitable contractors is expected to be finalised in October 2012. Contract negotiations are expected to be concluded in December 2012 to January 2013,” he said.
The construction and commissioning phase is expected to begin around mid- 2013 and is projected to take three and half to four years.
The World Bank recently recommended that government launches an electrical power demand-side management programme designed to encourage consumers to use less energy during peak hours.
The bank also encouraged users to move the time of energy use to off-peak times such as nights and weekends.
The energy crisis has negatively affected the country’s hopes for a sustained economic growth, as load shedding and high tariffs have caused disruptions to productivity in the manufacturing and mining sectors.
Thermals at most of the power stations in the country are more than 40 years old while the last power station ever put up in the country was in the 1980s.