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Minister likens Zimbabwe power plants to ramshackle Peugeot 404

By Zim Morning Post

Zimbabwe’s power outages will continue into the foreseeable future due to ageing equipment described by Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi as an old Peugeot 404.

The country is experiencing a power shortfall due to generation constraints at the thermal power station Hwange, which is almost 40 years old.

Authorities are currently managing the power shortfall through load shedding in order to balance the power supply available and the connected load.

In addition, maintenance work on the dam wall at the hydropower station Kariba requires two generators to be offline daily for 12 hours. Zimbabwe is also seeing limited power imports.

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Hwange Power Station Unit 1 catches fire
In February 2021 the Hwange Power Station Unit 1 caught fire

Speaking during Wednesday question and answer session in the National Assembly, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi said government is on a drive to ensure that the country has new sources of energy.

“We are going into solar sources of energy, we are building new stations in Hwange and we are adding new ones. Mindful of the fact that the new turbines that we are using were built a very long time ago and they are now susceptible to breakages, if that happens, it is the one that we are using.

“You cannot stand up and definitively give somebody a guarantee that you are driving an old Peugeot 404 and you say that the guarantee that I give is that you will get to Harare and you are coming from Chegutu even when it has broken down – that guarantee cannot be given,” Ziyambi said.

Zimbabwe’s demand for power hovers around 2 000 MW.

However, due to ageing equipment, existing power plants are generating far below the national requirement.

“What we are doing as Government is, we have expanded our power generation capacity in Kariba, we are building new power stations and encouraging individuals to come up with independent power stations that feed into ZESA.

“So we have a medium term plan but the long term plan is to build new and efficient power stations so that we will now be able to definitively answer that question to say, even if these units break down, we have so much back-up and we will be able to ensure that our industry will continue uninterrupted,” he continued.

“We must also be mindful that as we speak, in South Africa, Zambia and the region as a whole, they are also having power shortages. So the issue really is to holistically look at our energy sector and admit that we have old power generation units that need to be upgraded to an extent that once we have done that, we will be rest assured that should this unit breakdown, we have so many back-up.

“At that particular stage, we will be able now to definitively say that the probability of all our units breaking down is 1% but at the moment because of the age of our generation units, they breakdown randomly and you cannot definitively say once they breakdown, I am guaranteeing that this particular unit will be able to power us through while this one is being worked on.”