Zambian State energy agency ZESCO announces load-shedding

Peter Kapala
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LUSAKA – Energy Minister Peter Kapala has announced that ZESCO will commence load shedding on 15th December 2022 due to the low water levels in the Kariba dam.

Delivering a ministerial statement in Parliament this morning, Mr. Kapala says the water levels in Kariba dam have been reducing on account of low inflows from the Zambezi river and over utilisation of water to sustain power generation has also worsened the situation.

The Minister said load management will be undertaken for a period of four months aimed at rationing water in the dam in order to avoid a complete shutdown.

Mr.Kapala explained that ZESCO will optimize generation at all power stations in the country and fast track the development of other power projects to mitigate the impact of reduced power generation.

He said as of 28th November 2022, the water levels were at 4.1 percent of usable water storage saying this threatens power generation for both Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“ZESCO will implement a load management regime aimed at rationing power generation at the Kariba Complex to avoid a complete shutdown. This will be done with the view to minimize the impact on key economic sectors as well as preservation of the integrity of generation units at the Kariba Complex,” Mr Kapala said.

He added, “We anticipate that based on the water levels, this will translate into a load management regime starting on 15th December 2022 of up to a maximum of six (6) hours daily until the water levels improve.”

He said the Kariba Lake is designed to operate between 475.50m and 488.50m of water above sea level (asl) for purposes of hydropower generation. The water allocation is done considering the need to sustain reservoir operations at Kariba.”

“For the year 2022, the ZRA allocated a combined total of Forty-Five Billion Cubic Meters (45 BCM) of water to ZESCO and ZPC for power generation at the Kariba Complex. The allocation was to be shared equally between ZESCO Limited and Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) with each utility to utilize 22.5 Billion Cubic Meters of water respectively for the year 2022,” he said.

Mr Kapala said it is projected that if the current power generation and subsequent water utilization continues, the remaining water for power generation at the Kariba complex, also referred to as live storage, will not be sufficient for power generation beyond mid-December 2022.

“Against this background, there is need to implement measures aimed at rationing the water in the lake in order to avoid a complete shutdown of electricity generation activities at the Kariba Complex.”

He said the proposed measures will be phased and revisited from time to time over the next four months in order to ensure security of electricity supply and mitigate the impact on the economy.

“Zambezi River Authority has with immediate effect, directed Zimbabwe Power Company to immediately ensure that Power generation activities at the South Bank Power Station are reduced to a maximum of 300MW instead of 600MW, while ZESCO Limited will reduce generation at Kariba North Bank Power Station to a maximum of 800MW, until further review of the substantive Hydrological outlook at lake Kariba will be undertake,” he said.

“ZESCO will optimize generation at all its hydro power stations in Zambia (Kariba North Bank, Victoria Falls, Small Hydros, Kafue Gorge and Kafue Gorge Lower power stations). It is expected that this will complement the generation from the Kariba Complex to Mid-January 2023 when the water inflows are expected to start improving in the Kariba reservoir.“ – Lusaka Times