Zimbabwe scrambling for energy diversification after China ban on coal investment

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HARARE — Zimbabwe’s plan to refurbish two idled coal-fired power stations has been thrown into disarray by China’s decision to ban investment in plants burning the dirtiest fossil fuel outside its borders.

Zimbabwe was depending on China to help get the Bulawayo Power Station, which has a design capacity of 90 megawatts, and Munyati Power Station, meant to generate 100 megawatts, to produce electricity to fill a chronic shortfall in the southern African country.

“There is no funding for coal plants,” Sydney Gata, the chairman of state-owned Zesa Holdings Ltd., said in an interview on Wednesday. “We don’t have a plan yet,” adding that while he has been in communication with the potential investors, the decision was made at a national level.

China’s decision last year has hit a number of other coal projects globally. The Asian nation’s biggest lender, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd., last year dropped a plan to fund a $3 billion coal mine and power-plant complex in Zimbabwe, which was being developed by RioEnergy, a unit of RioZim Ltd.

Zimbabwe’s Secretary for Energy Gloria Magombo didn’t immediately respond to emailed questions she had requested.

The Bulawayo and Munyati plants were built between 1946 and 1957.

Zimbabwe has an installed capacity to produce 2,100 megawatts but generates an average 1,200 megawatts to 1,300 megawatts. When possible, it meets the shortfall through imports. – Bloomberg