Kariba Dam is now left with capacity to generate power for only 165 days, unless significant water inflows are recorded in the next few months, a Zesa Holdings official has said.
BY TARISAI MANDIZHA
Speaking during a tour of Kariba Power Station last Friday, the power station’s general manager, Kenneth Maswera said water levels in the dam were now at 477,15m which is 1,65m above the minimum power generation threshold. He said these were the lowest levels recorded since the 1992 drought.
“If we are taking a cubic centimetre a day, it will take 165 days, but that is if we don’t get any water inflows,” he said.
“It looks like it has been almost constant, but the water levels are going down and it’s a fact. We have not received any significant inflows, basically the level is going to continue going down if we don’t get any water flows into the lake.”
Maswera said power generation at Kariba Hydropower Station had further declined to 285MW against a generation capacity of 750 megawatts (MW) due to
dwindling water levels in Kariba dam.
“We are 1,65m above the level to generate power and if we go below this level, we will not be able to generate. But there is enough water for fishing and other activities,” he said.
Maswera said Kariba power generation was constructed and designed to operate between 475,5m and 488,50m.
He said the expansion of Kariba South Power Station, which was expected to add 300MW into the national grid was now 40% complete.
The $533 million expansion project, which includes development costs to be met by Zimbabwe Power Company, is being undertaken by a Chinese firm, Sino Hydro and is targeted for completion by 2018.
According to reports, to date, China Exim Bank has disbursed the first tranche of about $100 million under the engineering procurement contract valued at $354 million.
Zimbabwe is generating 1 355MW, with Hwange producing 341MW, Kariba 285MW, Harare 17MW and Munyati 28MW. Imports contributed 450MW against a forecast demand of 1 375MW.
Zesa spokesperson, Fullard Gwasira said despite dwindling water levels at Kariba Dam, the power utility company was working on a number of measures to address power shortages, which include importation of 300MW of electricity from South Africa and another 40MW from Mozambique, Dema emergency diesel power plant and the solar water heating programme among many others.
Zambezi River Authority chief executive officer, Munyaradzi Munodawafa said the situation at Kariba was bad.
Kariba Dam services both Zambia and Zimbabwe and on a daily basis the power stations in the two countries consume between 900 to 1 000 cubic metres of water.
Munodawafa, however, said more rains were expected between this and next month and this will improve the water levels to sustain the two countries up to the winter period.