WORK on the Hwange Power Station expansion to add two units with combined output of 600 megawatts, has reached 48 percent completion, but has fallen behind the second quarter target of 57 percent due to global travel restrictions caused by Covid-19 pandemic.
The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), the generation arm of State power utility Zesa, said in a recent statement that during the second quarter, the project was exposed to high impact risk events, which affected its progress.
Chinese electrical power systems specialists, Sinohydro, are undertaking the installation of the two 300MW power generators.
The company successfully completed the installation of two 150MW generation units at Kariba South in April 2018, taking its new capacity to 1 050MW.
Hwange has installed capacity of 920MW, but the plant is currently producing at only a fraction of its designed capacity due to a number of technical issues related to its very advanced age.
Power is one of the key enablers to economic growth while others include roads, rail, air, communication systems and related critical infrastructure.
“The novel coronavirus has had serious implications on the project’s progress as personnel cannot travel to or from China for manufacturing and procurement of equipment.
The project therefore stands at 47,5 percent actual progress against a planned progress of 57 percent.
ZPC said progress made on construction during the quarter includes design component of the project, which is now 92 percent complete.
The power utility also said that reviews for technical specifications and detail designs are ongoing for the power plant and transmission and distribution works.
“During this reporting period, Sinohydro progressed with both excavations and foundation construction work. Concrete construction for Units 7 and 8 structural foundations is now complete. Unit 7 steel structure installation is in progress at 96 percent complete,” ZPC said.
On completion, HPS will significantly improve the security of power supply in the country, with peak period demand of 2 200MW in winter far outstripping internal supply capacity of about 1 800MW, assuming optimal use of reliable potential.
The Government is pursuing various projects to boost internal power supply and this includes Hwange Power Station’s rehabilitation, small thermals re-powering, joint construction of the 2 400MW Batoka project with Zambia and the issuance of several licences to independent power producers.
Shortage of power in the country, until recently when to the coronavirus disrupted activities across key sectors of the economy, resulted in rolling power cuts that lasted for up to 18 hours a day.