What about Hwange 7 & 8
These two new units will add 600MW, but it may not happen as quickly as desperate Zimbabweans may be hoping for.
Magombo, who has commissioned new plants before, explains: “Commissioning of a plant is not an event, it’s a process. When we talk about commissioning Hwange 7, each part has to be commissioned independently and certified as working 100%, before they move on to the next one.
If there’s something not working properly, they have to stop, look at it, and correct it. As they do that, they look at the critical path in terms of when they can put that unit on the grid.”
The other part of commissioning is the transmission – including power lines. A 400km line is being built from Hwange to Bulawayo’s Insukamini sub-station. Extended COVID-19 lockdowns in China have caused delays as engineers were unable to travel to oversee parts of the commissioning phases.
Magombo expects the process of bringing Unit 7 onto the grid to start by month-end, but even then, she cautions, the commissioning phase will continue for a further period to make sure that the power supply is stable.
Next year, Hwange starts refurbishing the older Hwange plant, built in the 1980s. When that project is done, and combined with the two new units 7 and 8, Hwange would have a total of 1 480MW.
Will the two new Hwange units end the pain?
Zimbabwe is currently producing less than 500MW, while demand is at least 1 700MW. Kariba, which for much of 2022 was producing over 70% of Zimbabwe’s power, is now down to under 200MW. To match demand, Zimbabwe would need to import at least 1200MW, which is not available in the region.
The extra 600MW from Hwange, when it finally comes on stream next year, will also not make up for what is needed, especially if Kariba remains down. Beyond this, mines alone right now need up to 2 500MW to fire up new and expanded projects, while demand from new homes is growing, and this means Zimbabwe will be in deficit for the medium to long term.- NewZwire