The electricity situation in Zimbabwe keeps evolving. One day it looks like the worst might be behind us then the next, it’s firewood and candles for everyone. In my neighbourhood at least, things somewhat improved in May but by the end of the month, it had deteriorated again.
The Zimbabwe Electricity and Transmission Distribution Company (ZETDC) says it was because the brand-new Unit 7 at Hwange had been disconnected from the national grid for system evaluation.
You will recall that the 300MW Unit 7 had been delayed for a long time but was finally synchronised in March 2023. We were told that “Power will be progressively fed into the grid until it reaches 300 MW” and so we knew it would be a while before we got all that Unit 7 could offer.
ZETDC says they are now beginning the final commissioning phase of Unit 7. However, you may be glad to know it is already contributing its full 300MW to the national grid.
What about Unit 8?
There is another unit, Unit 8, which also has a capacity of 300MW that is in the works. The Hwange expansion project involves those two units, Units 7 and 8, contributing 300MW each, a total of 600MW to the grid.
We were told to expect Unit 8 to be synchronised by October. However, it’s looking like we might not have to wait that long.
Unit 8 is already being worked on and is already contributing to the grid, though not its full 300MW.
The Energy and Power Development minister said,
It was being run on commissioning tests where they were testing the turbine running capacity which was successful and also the boiler hydraulics.
What happened is that after running it for the period of the tests, they took it out of the grid in order for technicians to do evaluations before the unit is run on commercial basis.
300MW by the end of June
The ZETDC and the ministry are confident that by the end of this month (June 2023) Unit 8 will be providing 300MW to the grid. Said the minister,
We now expect that we will be having a contribution of 600MW that will be coming from the expansion project before the end of this month, the 300MW coming on commercial availability and the 300MW from Unit 8 still on commercial test
So, Unit 8 will still be on commercial test but will be contributing 300MW before this month is up. 300MW is 300MW in my book, test or no.
Now, I would take that confidence with a grain of salt. This whole expansion project was delayed for years and Unit 7 missed so many deadlines. So, we might get 300MW from Unit 8 this month or we might not, I’d say it’s at best a coin flip.
We are not in the habit of beating deadlines but I definitely would not be complaining if we beat this particular deadline. I guess with a date for the elections set, ZETDC better make sure Unit 8 is live before we hit the polls otherwise they might make the government look bad, no doubt costing them a few votes.
One then hopes we are not rushing Unit 8 to beat the election date when we haven’t completed synchronisation. Time shall tell.