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Tuesday 5 February 2013

Batoka Dam Update

(5th February 2013)

zambezi river dam projects

Background on the resurrection of the Batoka Gorge Dam development.

In September 2012 an American hydrologist criticised the plans for the proposed dam designs for the Batoka Gorge Dam and Mphanda Nkuwa Dam (Mozambique) for being based on archive hydrological flow patterns which have not been re-evaluated for future climate change risks including regional drought, reduced flows and increased risk of extreme flooding events.
The report by US State of Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services hydrologist Dr Richard Beilfuss states that the result of the construction of these projects in the Zambezi basin "may be economically non-viable dams" with "an underwhelming performance against more extreme droughts and can also be a danger because they were not designed to deal with the increasingly destructive floods ...The plans for two of the biggest dam projects on the Zambezi - the Batoka Gorge dam and Mphanda Nkuwa - are based on hydrological files and were not evaluated in relation to the risks associated with the reduction of average annual flow and more extreme cycles of floods and droughts." Citing the Intergovernmental Panel on climate change, Beilfuss concluded that the Zambezi basin faces "the worst potential effects of climate changes, when compared to the 11 principal basins of Sub-Saharan Africa, and will face more substantial reduction of rainfall and runoff".
Source: Proposed Zambezi hydropower dams pose some risks, expert warns
In December 2012 Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) invited Expressions of Interest (EoI) from prospective developers on a Build Operate Transfer (BOT) basis, with EoIs to be submitted by 8 Feb 2013.
Source: Batoka power project goes to tender
Details of the project were summarised in the invitation:
"The Batoka Gorge HES is to be located across the boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe at 18º 1’ S 26º 34’ E, upstream of the existing 1,470 MW Kariba Dam hydroelectric scheme. The proposed scheme includes a 181 m high Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC) gravity arch dam, radial gated crest type spillway, two underground power stations on each side of the river with four 200 MW Francis turbines installed in each, giving a total capacity of 1,600 MW for the scheme. The scheme is designed as a run-of-the river scheme with an estimated average energy generation of 8,700 GWh/year. The reservoir is fully located within the Batoka Gorge and has a relatively small surface area of 26 km2."
Reports expect the project reach completion by 2019. Zambezi River Authority (ZAR) chief executive officer, Engineer Munyaradzi Munodawafa, said the Batoka project would be the largest hydro-power plant in the southern hemisphere and was expected to have a positive socio-economic impact on people from the two countries. “We are looking at the economic benefit the locals are going to derive from the project. Batoka power plant will generate 1 600 megawatts upon completion of the dam."
Fresh feasibility and EIA studies to determine actual works and financing costs for the Batoka Gorge project will have to be undertaken due to the lapse of time (the original feasibility studies were completed in 1993 and a revised EIA undertaken in 1998). Zambia’s power utility Managing Director, Cyprian Chitun, said fresh environmental impact assessment studies will be conducted before the actual construction begins. "An expression of interest was tendered in the press to look for consultants to review the study that was conducted in 1992. We need to ensure that the feasibility study is brought to speed," local source reported. ZRA public relations and communications manageress, Ms Elizabeth Karonga, confirmed the authority was waiting for a new updated Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report before commencing the construction of the dam
In January 2013 it was announced that ministers from Zambia and Zimbabwe were meeting in Victoria Falls to discuss the development of the project
Zimbabwean Energy and Power Development Minister, Elton Mangoma, was reported as saying "We will be looking at all the issues that deal with Kariba Dam, the Batoka project, Devil’s Gorge and also the social aspects — the work to be done for communities around the Kariba Dam," perhaps referring to the still embittered communities resettled after the building of the Kariba Dam in the late 1950s. Mangoma also reported that the tender process for the Kariba 7 and 8 expansion was now at an advanced stage with a funding package expected to be completed by March this year. “The contract for Kariba 7 and 8 has been signed and works for mobilisation are being done. As for Hwange 7 and 8, two tenders are being evaluated and once a tender has been awarded, a final decision would be made. The tender board would be advised,” he said.
Source: Zim/Zambia tackle Batoka project
In early February it was announced that Zimbabwe and Zambia had agreed to set up a steering committee to work with the Zambezi River Authority in constructing the Batoka Gorge power generation plant. Mangoma said that “we will be opening a road to the project site by June from both sides,” he said, adding that the two parties would now be meeting quarterly to review progress.
Source: Zim/Zambia set up Steering Committee for Batoka Project
Location of the Batoka Gorge Dam
The proposed Batoka Gorge dam site is situated on the Zambezi River approximately 3km downstream of Mwemba Falls and 54km downstream from the Victoria Falls, extending across the international boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Grid Reference for the proposed Batoka Gorge Dam is ML 055-178 on the 1:50,000 scale topographical maps from both Zambia and Zimbabwe (GPS 18º 1’ S 26º 34’ E) . On the Zambia side, Livingstone is approximately 28 km north-west of Batoka Gorge, and on the Zimbabwe side Hwange is approximately 55 km south-west of Batoka Gorge.
Project Objectives
The project aims, as listed by Tumbare (2010) are to:
  • - Improve current power generation at Kariba and Kafue through conjunctive operation;
  • - Provide a reliable source of power for industries thus enhancing expansion and consistent industrial/manufacturing productivity;
  • - Provide additional power to meet electricity demand for Zim and Zam, thus reducing pressure on forests and other organic fuels, and thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  • - Reduce dependency on coal-fired power stations, which are expensive to run, thereby reducing the associated carbon dioxide (C02) emissions;
  • - Provide an alternative road link between Zam and Zim across the Zambezi River
Excess power will be exported to the region. The project will also create employment for the local communities, international and regional professionals.
History of the Batoka Gorge Dam
The first geological studies of the Batoka Gorge were undertaken in 1904 with the construction of the Victoria Falls Bridge and planning for the Victoria Falls Hydro Electric Scheme (the project was not realised until 1938).
In 1972 a report by Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners identified several sites on the Zambezi which would be potentially suitable for development as hydro electric schemes. These included Batoka Gorge, Devil’s Gorge, both upstream of Lake Kariba, and Mupata Gorge, downstream of Kariba Dam. The reservoir level for the dam was determined as 762 m above sea level.
In 1981 a second Gibb report relocated the proposed dam site some 12 km upstream due to a mapping error. The reservoir level remained unchanged. The current technical, legal and environmental feasibility studies were carried out in 1993. In 1995 Zambia abandoned the project in favour of cheaper alternatives. A revised EIA was undertaken in 1998 and attempts were made to launch the project again in 2007, but failed due to lack of funding.
Early in 2012 the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe agreed the settlement of outstanding debts relating to the Kariba Project, and clearing one of the last major obstacles to the progression of the project, and together with the securing of World Bank funding the project was well and truely ressurrected.
The Management of the Zambezi River Basin and Kariba Dam M J Tumbare (2010)
Batoka Gorge Feasability Report - Executive Summary - Zambezi River Authority (pdf, 1993)
Batoka Gorge Hydroelectric Scheme Project (pdf presentation, 2005).
Important Bird Areas of Zimbabwe - Batoka Gorge (pdf)
HYDROPOWER Zambezi Basin overview (pdf)
Save the Batoka Gorge There is also a Facebook group called Stop The Batoka Dam On The Zambezi River


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