Zimbabwe to invite energy sector investors

Jul 15, 2010 02:00 AM

Zimbabwe will soon open its doors to investors in the energy sector to come in as independent power producers (IPP) or as public-private partnership arrangements for larger power projects.
The energy sector, which produces about 1,100 MW of electricity on average vis-a-vis a peak demand of about 2,100 MW, imports between 300-500 MW, mostly from Mozambique and Zambia.

Speaking at the official opening of the Third Session of the Seventh Parliament of Zimbabwe, President Mugabe said erratic power supplies were affecting economic development. Government was working on a number of initiatives aimed at easing the situation that has negatively affected capacity utilisation in industries.
"Persistent erratic power supply remains a potent threat to the successful turnaround of the economy. However, Government is working on initiatives which would see a gradual easing of the situation," said the President.

Government is currently working on the refurbishment of the coal-fired Hwange Power Station, where five out of the six units are expected to become operational by end of year. Power generation at Hwange will be expanded by 600 MW and the Kariba hydropower station by about 300 MW. However, there is huge potential to expand power generation capacity through hydropower projects, which could deliver an additional 5,000 MW.
Other smaller hydropower projects that can be constructed near small rivers and dams could add more than 200 MW to the country's generation capacity. Government had earlier indicated that they are looking for IPPs to help develop or to set up these projects, saying that producers did not necessarily have to export the power to the national grid.

IPPs would also be allowed to sell their power to other electricity users in the country. Other options for expanding the power generation capacity of Zimbabwe included the country's coal-bed methane reserves of about 1,1 tcf, as well as its 11,8-bn tons of coal.
The Bulawayo Thermal Power Station, which has not produced electricity for nearly a decade will soon be resuscitated in a deal with the Botswana Power Corporation. BPC has agreed to inject $ 8 mm into the project.

President Mugabe also noted that the use of renewable energy sources such as ethanol blending would also be promoted to ease power demands. He said the measures need to be complemented by implementing demand-side management measures and the promotion of efficient use of energy.
In line with these measures, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority is working on the installation of prepayment metres to help in billing and revenue collection. During this session, the Energy Regulatory Bill, which seeks to establish an Energy Regulatory Authority to regulate the energy supply industry would be tabled in Parliament.

The engagement of IPPs comes at a time when RioZim is failing to secure a serious investor to develop the Sengwa Power Project, with a possible capacity of 2,400 MW, targeted to start generating power by no later than 2014, all things being equal.
The country has suffered acute power shortages due to falling generation capacity over the years and has had to rely from ever declining imports from regional neighbours.

Source / The Herald
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