Hwange Thermal Power Station Unit 7, which was recently taken off the national grid for further tests, will be back online on Monday, adding 300MW to the national output, Energy and Power Development Minister Soda Zhemu has said.
This will be a major development in easing load-shedding and boosting industrial productivity.
Since the end of March, Zimbabwe has been enjoying increased power generation following the successful synchronisation of Hwange Unit 7.
Responding to inquiries from Senators on Thursday, Minister Zhemu said reliability tests for Unit 7 had been completed.
Following a successful reliability run, the unit was taken off the grid in preparation for the final commissioning, which entails among other evaluations, fine-tuning of all technical systems.
“It was being run on commissioning tests where they were testing the turbine running capacity, which was successful and also the boiler hydraulics. What happened is that after running it for the period of the tests, they took it out of the grid in order for technicians to do evaluations before the unit is run on commercial basis,” said Minister Zhemu.
He said the Unit is expected to be back on the grid on Monday.
Minister Zhemu said when Unit 8 synchronisation started, engineers discovered after about three hours that there was an area they needed to attend to and it was taken off the grid.
“They have been working on the unit and according to what they had pre-determined at a time when they took it off the grid, the unit was supposed to be tied back to the grid today (Thursday),” he said.
Minister Zhemu said he was yet to hear from the power utility whether that had happened.
“We now expect that we will be having a contribution of 600 megawatts that will be coming from the expansion project any time before the end of this month, the 300 megawatts coming on commercial availability and the 300 megawatts from Unit 8 still on commercial test,” he said.
Minister Zhemu said the additional 600 megawatts will enhance power availability given that in Kariba, there has been an increase in generation following additional water allocation, which was made after the two utilities, ZESCO and ZESA, met the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA ) who manage the water resources.
Coupled with increased water allocations at Kariba Hydro-Thermal Power Station, the country’s electricity situation has steadily improved with combined output hovering around 1 200MW, recovering from the lowest of below 400MW early this year.
Built at a cost of about US$1,4 billion by a Chinese contractor, Hwange Unit 7 and 8 expansion is one of the Second Republic’s signature projects aimed at boosting power generation to support economic transformation in line with the National Development Strategy 1.
After the rehabilitation of the six units, Hwange will be able to produce a maximum of 1 520MW with 920MW from units 1 to 6 and 600MW from Unit 7 and 8.
The expansion project started in 2018, but was affected by a number of unforeseen events.