- Hwange Unit 7 will be taken offline for a maintenance period of 30 days
- Kariba is experiencing reduced production of up to 300 MW due to faults and low water levels
- Zimbabwe is expected to endure blackouts exceeding 12 hours per day
Harare- Zimbabwe is facing an extended period of blackouts as the power utility, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority Holdings, announced that Unit 7 of the Hwange power plant will be taken offline for 30 days for Class C maintenance. Unit 7, which has a capacity of 300 MW, was synchronized in March.
Prior to this maintenance, the country was already experiencing significant load shedding, with an average of six to seven hours of power cuts per day. However, with Unit 7 out of operation, the electricity situation has worsened, and major cities like Harare are now enduring up to 12 hours of load shedding.
The aging infrastructure of the Hwange power plants has been plagued by faults, leading to reduced output. Even before the maintenance, the utility was struggling to produce a meaningful amount of electricity, with daily output as low as 500 MW.
Additionally, the Kariba Power Station, with an installation capacity of 1050 MW, is currently generating only around 300 MW per day due to lower water levels.
The lack of investment in alternative energy sources beyond hydro and coal, coupled with corruption and mismanagement of public funds, has contributed to Zimbabwe's inability to address the aging power infrastructure.
The country's peak electricity demand is around 2.4 GW, but it is currently producing less than 1 GW.
Despite the electricity crisis, ZESA Holdings recently increased electricity tariffs by 40% within 11 months. Tariffs rose from US$c10.63 per kilowatt-hour to USc12.63/kWh.
This tariff hike will have a significant impact on the mining sector, which already faces challenges due to declining commodity prices.
Before the increase, electricity costs accounted for 20% of overall mining expenses, further straining the industry.
To mitigate the impact of the power crisis, companies are urged to invest in solar energy and reduce reliance on ZESA or generators, as the opportunity cost is high.
Additionally, the government needs to address corruption issues to revive struggling industries. Zimbabwe loses over US$1 billion annually to corruption, funds that could be utilized to overhaul the electricity sector and support economic growth.
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