Preliminary work on the expansion of the Kariba South hydro power plant has begun with the topographical survey already finished.
Zimbabwe Power Company operations director Mr Wonder Magura confirmed that operations had started at the power plant.
“The geological investigation of the project site has started while the topographical survey has already been completed,” he said.
He noted that findings from the surveys would feed into the preliminary designs which were being done.
ZPC last year signed an engineering, procurement and contraction contract for the project with Chinese firm, Sino Hydro Corporation Limited.
But the US$400 million power project deal was hanging in the balance after Sino Hydro demanded that the US$27 million debt owed to Export-Import Bank of China (Eximbank) be cleared first before work began.
The debt was cleared in March paving the way for the project to commence.
Mr Magura said the project would be completed in four years and would significantly narrow the gap between demand and supply.
The expansion is expected to add 300 megawatts to the national grid.
|Fast facts about Kariba South Extension:|
|Location||Along Zambezi River, next to existing 750MW installed capacity Kariba South power station|
|Additional Capacity||300 MW (2x150MW)|
|Estimated Construction Period||42 Months|
|Estimated Project Cost||US$500 Million|
|National Project Status||Granted|
The country has an electricity shortfall of 600MW, with the national power utility, Zesa, only able to generate around 1 400MW against a national peak demand of 2 200MW and has to import electricity from Mozambique to reduce the deficit.
ZPC recently announced plans to increase power output from the existing capacity by 520 megawatts to reduce power deficits that have resulted in electricity rationing to balance supply.
Closing the gap between current generation and installed capacity at existing power stations will also involve re-powering small thermals at Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati and extending the life of Hwange Thermal Power Station.
The power stations are operating below capacity with Munyati currently generating only 31 megawatts while the Harare plant generates 15MW. Bulawayo generates 10MW while Hwange and Kariba are generating 562MW and 730MW respectively.
Revival of the Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati thermal stations would add a further 310MW to the national grid while the possibility of developing the Batoka hydropower project,which can generate 800MW, would also contribute to covering the deficit.
Date: 17 June 2013