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Alternative Investment

COMMENT: Zimbabwe needs much more investment in alternative energy

The Chronicle

CURRENT electricity shortages are a major wake up call to all Zimbabweans as the country diversifies its energy mix to combine hydro, solar, wind, and biogas in keeping with global climate change mitigation efforts.

Although Zimbabwe has about 26 billion tonnes of unmined coal, which can last over 800 years, world leaders have agreed to clean up the electric grid and many countries have already ditched fossil fuels.

The diversification of the energy mix has never been more urgent for Zimbabwe. Much investment is needed in alternative energy in order to power the country and attract new investments in manufacturing, mining and farming.

Although Zimbabwe has about 26 billion tonnes of unmined coal.

The country has of late experienced serious power shortages leading to long hours without electricity in homes, while for Bulawayo residents it was double trouble as the crisis also led to water shortages.

Fortunately, load shedding eased over the holidays as the output from Hwange Thermal Power Station increased to 430MW following the repair of broken-down units.

The increase pushed the total electricity generated in the country to 681MW, which is still, however, far short of national demand. Hwange is the largest coal-fired power station with 920MW installed capacity which comprises 4x120MW and 2x220MW units.

Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC)

According to the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), Hwange is now producing 430MW, Kariba Hydro 233MW, Munyati 18MW while nothing is coming from Bulawayo and Harare thermal stations.

“Our engineers and technicians have been working frantically to ensure increased power generation. Consequently, we have increased generation at the Hwange Power Station by getting the broken-down units back up, resulting in five of the six units being currently operational, which has increased supply to the national grid,” said Zesa in an update.

“This will help ease the demand-supply gap during the festive break as we also anticipate reduced demand from the business sector during the period.”


In the short-to-medium term, Government is fast-tracking swift completion and commissioning of the US$1,5 billion Hwange Units 7 and 8 expansion projects, which are set to bring an additional 600MW to the national grid. The expansion project will increase Hwange’s generation capacity from the current 920MW to 1520MW.

Already, test runs are underway at Unit 7 and preparations for the imminent commissioning are well on course.
“It is pleasing to see that the technical tests are progressing well and the utility expects the first additional 300MW from Unit 7 soon,” Zesa said.

Hwange Power Station

Unit 7’s commissioning will be a much welcome development, but not a panacea to the real problem. Diversification of the energy mix is the only solution. Eventually, Zimbabwe will also move away from coal.

The “crazy” plan to generate 14 500MW from the 10 gorges on the Kafue-Zambezi catchment complex may be exactly what the country needs — this and other out-of-the-box ideas.
As the climate changes, so should our ideas for the future.

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