THE rehabilitation and extension of Kariba South 7 and 8 power units is expected to commence after financial closure of the project by next month, an official with the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) has said.
REPORT BY KUDZAI CHIMHANGWA
The Kariba South project is anticipated to produce an additional 300MW to the national grid to ease the country’s power deficit.
This will be at an estimated cost of US$500 million. The Kariba hydro project is the only power station operating at installed capacity as it is generating 750MW.
Zera chief executive officer, Glora Magombo said the construction and commissioning phase is expected to begin in two months’ time.
“Our hope according to the information availed to us is that in two months’ time the deal would have reached financial closure before the implementation stage,” said Magombo.
Financial closure occurs when all project and financing agreements have been signed and all requisite conditions contained in them have been met.
This process enables funds to begin flowing so that project implementation can actually start.
Financial closure will mark the end of the engineering phase leading into Phase 3 which is the construction and commissioning stage.
Magombo said although the infrastructure was already in place, the construction work needed to be done which would take an additional three years before the country sees actual results.
Magombo said while the power shortages characterised by load-shedding would continue for some time, the authority was seriously exploring renewable forms of energy.
“We have already submitted a proposal to the Ministry [of Energy and Power Development] focusing on suggested incentives. We have currently engaged consultants to develop Renewable Energy Feed in Tariffs for policy adoption” she said.
The project framework factors in the cost of the various forms of renewable energy, mini hydro projects, solar power and wind maps for viable wind production.
By the end of October this year, there will be a stakeholder’s workshop where a preliminary presentation on the findings on the potential of such projects will be made.
A Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff (Refit) is a policy instrument that makes it mandatory for energy companies or utilities responsible for operating the national grid to purchase electricity from renewable energy sources at a pre-determined price that is sufficiently attractive to stimulate new investment in the renewable sector.
The authority contends that Zimbabwe has great potential for producing biofuels such as ethanol from sugarcane in the low-veld, as well as biodiesel from jatropha.
Zimbabwe also has significant potential to generate electricity from bagasse and timber waste. The country’s biogas potential from animal waste is estimated to be 5,83GWh per annum.
The Refits are to be developed for the available renewable energy technologies in Zimbabwe.
SOUTHERN REGION FACES CHRONIC POWER CUTS
Zimbabwe is currently facing a chronic electricity shortage which dates back to the year 1992 when Zimbabwe started facing a net power deficit where demand exceeded supply.
In 2007, the situation worsened when the Southern Africa Power Pool also began experiencing a net energy deficit.