Zesa HOLDINGS says it is considering installing new boiler technologies for its three thermal power stations to help reduce the power deficit the country is facing. Zimbabwe is struggling to address perennial power shortages which have resulted in the introduction of permanent load-shedding for industry and households.
Power demand stands at 2 200MW but the country is generating between 1 350MW and 1 400MW, leaving a deficit of around 800MW.
Load-shedding has especially impacted negatively on industry recovery coming from a background of economic difficulties which chocked productivity.
Zesa Holdings group chief executive Engineer Josh Chifamba said the thermal power stations in Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati are hardly in use due to viability issues. He said the thermals required a special type of coal from Hwange to fire them which made it costly to run them.
"What we are trying to do is to implement a project realisable within 18 months and that is to change the boiler technology (for the thermals) to allow us to use different types of coal that are obtainable from areas which are closer to the stations," said Eng Chifamba.
"That is a project that will give us 240MW to close that 800MW gap."
He said the utility was also working on a solar project which will add an additional 100MW to the national grid in the short term. To minimise the power shortfall, Zimbabwe at most imports 200MW from HCB of Mozambique, Eng Chifamba said.
But obtaining supplies from other regional utilities has proven to be a challenge as neighbouring countries are also battling the problem of power shortages.
Eng Chifamba said embarking on new power projects required long-term funding which was currently unavailable.
"In the current circumstances that we are in, were we have no access to long-term capital due to sanctions, it is difficult and almost impossible to invest in new generation capacity," he said.
In spite of the embargo, Government has already set the ball rolling for expansion of the country's two major power stations -- Hwange and Kariba -- which will give the country an additional 1 200MW.
But the projects are long term and according to experts in the sector, take more than five years before they are completed. -- New Ziana.