Zimbabweans are bracing for more power shortages following an order by the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) that the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) immediately stop generating electricity at the Kariba South Bank Power Station until January 2023.
The order was made following ZPC exceeding its water allocation, while significant water inflows into Lake Kariba are not expected until next year.
Zimbabweans are already experiencing long hours of load-shedding because of curtailed power generation from the country’s power stations.
Zambia’s ZESCO Limited, which is still operating within its allocation, has been allowed to continue generating power at its north bank power station.
ZRA, jointly owned by the governments of Zimbabwe and Zambia, manages the waters of the Zambezi River, which divides the two countries, with Zimbabwe lying to the south.
Kariba South is Zimbabwe’s anchor power station which has been sustaining power supplies while the Hwange Thermal Power Station in western Zimbabwe is being upgraded by China’s Sinohydro to generate more power.
A letter dated Nov. 25 from ZRA chief executive officer Munyaradzi Munodawafa to ZPC, a subsidiary of Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), said there was need to shut down the power station to avert a total shutdown of power generation at the dam because ZPC had exhausted its water allocation for the year.
Government newspaper The Herald also quoted the letter in an article published Monday.
“Please be advised that as of Nov. 25, 2022, Kariba South Bank Power Station had utilized 23.89 billion cubic meters (BCM) of water, accounting for 1.39 BCM (or 6.16 percent) above the 2022 water allocation of 22.50 BCM.
“Given that the Kariba reservoir usable storage currently stands at a paltry 2.98 BCM or 4.60 percent full, and that ZESCO Limited still has a positive balance of 2.44 BCM (10.82 percent) as of Nov. 25, 2022, ZPC no longer has any usable water to continue undertaking power generation operations at Kariba South Bank Power Station,” the letter said.
It added that with the current performance of the 2022/2023 rainfall season in the Kariba Lower Catchment, the river flows were yet to improve.
With associated inflows from the Upper Kariba Catchment only influencing any potential increase in the lake level at Kariba during the later part of the first quarter of 2023, it was highly unlikely that there would be reasonable inflow augmentation in 2022, the letter said.
ZRA said ZPC should immediately ensure that power generation at Kariba was suspended until January 2023, when a further review of the substantive Hydrological Outlook at Kariba would be undertaken. Enditem
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