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Kafue Gorge Lower works impress

Zambia’s power generation woes see brighter future

JEFF KAPEMBWA writes

WORKS on the Kafue Gorge Lower Hydro Power (KGLH) project have made impressive progress according to senior government officials.

The works that are expected to see 300 megaWatts (MW) come on line this year and an additional 450 MW by May 2021 has seen five new turbines put in place.

KGLH Power Project director Wesley Lwiindi told a visiting ministerial delegation that the long awaited hydro-electric energy from the Kafue Gorge Lower Hydro Power Project will soon be injected in the national grid and may reach 300 mega-watts by the end of the year (2020) before peaking at 750 mega-watts by May 2021.

A total of five turbines, each with a production capacity of 150 megawatts (total 750 mega-watts), will be installed in the power house at the Kafue Gorge Lower Hydro Project. Two have already been installed successfully and the remaining three are at different stages of completion.

This came to light, when Finance Minister Dr Bwalya Ngándu and his counterpart the Minister of Energy visited the project site in Kafue.

And the contractor, SinoHydro, says all the cement used in the project has been sourced from Lafarge Zambia while the steel requirements were apportioned between local and foreign suppliers.

Once the construction is completed, Zambia will have an increased power generation capacity of 3,750 from the current 2,900 megawatts.

The Kafue Gorge Lower Hydro Power project has been touted as a flagship project which started in 2015 to address the power generation expansion that has not been growing in line with the economy.
The last time Zambia commissioned a power station was in 1977 at Kafue Gorge and later in 2012 the Shiwangandu hydro power station came on line as a standalone station.

Earlier in the year, Zesco Managing Director Victor Mundende had explained to journalists in Kafue Gorge Lower that while the country is experiencing load shedding the power utility company was actively seeking a lasting solution to the problem, adding that Zesco will also continue to pursue alternative energy projects already on the table to insulate the country from economic shocks that come from effects of climate change.

Mr. Mundende said that an agreement, that has already been signed with Electricity De Mozambique (EDM) to construct 1 200 megawatts of the coal-fired thermal power plant, is being pursued closely, adding that the agreement will also see the construction of a power line and interconnector between Northern Mozambique in Tete Province to Chipata in Eastern Province.

Mr. Mundende further explained that the power utility company has already engaged China Power to construct a 500-megawatt solar power station by the end of 2020.

He said construction works on the 248-megawatt Kalungwishi hydropower and the 100 megawatts wind power projects to be done by Access in Serenje will commence this year.

Mr Mundende said electricity was the driver of the economy hence Government was doing everything possible to ensure there were other sources of electricity generation.

Apart from Kafue Gorge Lower hydropower station under construction, Kalungwishi hydro power station which will produce 248 megawatts would also be commissioned soon and the power utility was also implementing some solar power projects.

“No one wants load shedding, therefore we are not sitting idle but with the issues of climate change there is need to have a generation mix,” he said.

And Kafue Gorge Lower Power Project Director Wesley Lwiindi disclosed that of the four high-voltage transmission lines, an interconnector between Kafue Gorge Lower and Upper has been completed, while the transmission lines to Lusaka South MFEZ, Lusaka West and standby are being constructed.

Republican President Edgar Lungu also visited the power project construction site in May this year in order to get a deeper appreciation of the water and power generation situation in Zambia.

While touring the Kariba dam site, President Lungu learnt from Zambezi River Authority that despite favourable inflows into the catchments, more time was needed to allow water to reach the Kariba storage space.

Zambezi River Authority Chief Executive Officer, Munyaradzi Munodawafa, indicated that the high water volumes seen at the Victoria Falls are a positive development bur noted that even with this inflow the dam might not reach the specified heights and curtail power outages.

Kariba dam, whose maximum generating capacity is close to 1,080 MW now generates an average 275 MW owing to insufficient water as a consequence of drought. Water intake at Kariba is arguably expected to increase by mid-year, though hydrologists argue that this might be insufficient to meet the required water levels at the dam.

It seems the flash floods and high rainfall patterns recorded in the southern African region in the past season have not benefited the Kariba hydro-electric dam – the main water and power source for Zambia and Zimbabwe. The dam has been unable to fill up to its capacity and has seen the power outages continuing.

Specifications for the 60-year old dam indicate that the structure is over 223 kilometres long and up to 40 kilometres in width, covering an area of close to 5,580 square kilometres with storage capacity at 85 cubic kilometres. The mean depth of the lake is estimated at 29 metres with the maximum depth at 97 metres, a feat that can only be attained by a generous deluge of reliable rainfall.

According to Zesco the current power deficit is 810 megawatts but as the Kafue Gorge Lower 750MW comes on board with two machines, 300 megawatts will be integrated into the national grid.

– SOUTHERNTIMES.

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