SADC seeks to avert power deficit

The Sadc region, with some of Africa’s fastest expanding economies, is feared to run out of surplus generation capacity after 2007.

Net regional generation capacity is expected to clock 45 000 MW by 2007 against peak demand of well over 45 000 MW at that time.

The past 10 years have seen demand for power within the region increasing at a rate of about three percent per year but that increase has not attracted a corresponding increment in investment in generation and transmission infrastructure.

As a result, generation surplus capacity has been declining, resulting in warnings that Sadc could experience a critical shortage of electricity.

At present, the region has a combined total installed generation of 52 743 MW but the net generation output is around 45 000 MW, according to the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP).

To operate optimally, SAPP must ensure it maintains a generation reserve level of 10.2 percent or higher at all times. It is projected that at current demand growth levels, the region could exhaust its reserve capacity by 2007 and would not be able to meet further increases in demand for power.

This has prompted member states, through SAPP, to embark on a systematic programme to build additional generation capacity by either constructing new power stations or enhancing the performance of existing facilities.

SAPP has developed a 20-year generation and transmission expansion plan, which highlights the benefits of co-ordinated planning and the attendant cost reductions that can be achieved if the projects are carried out jointly as compared to individual implementation.

The co-ordinated plan will only cost the region US$8 billion to boost generation capacity while the sum of the individual expansion plans by the respective power utilities is expected to cost US$11 billion.

A total of 22 short-term projects are at various stages of implementation across the region which, once completed, would boost Sadc’s power generation capacity by 11 564 MW. The short-term projects are scheduled to be ready between 2005 and 2010.

These include the Capanda hydroelectric power project in Angola, which is expected to add another 260 MW of power to the regional grid on completion in 2007 and the refurbishment of the Inga 1 and 2 coal-powered project in the Democratic Republic of Congo will enhance regional capacity by a further 500 MW in 2007.

There are at least three new projects in South Africa ‘ one coal-powered facility and two gas projects ‘ that will inject an additional 5 600 MW into the regional power network between 2005 and 2010.

Other short-term projects include the second phases of the 110 MW Muela hydro-electric project in Lesotho, due for completion in 2010, and Malawi’s Kaphichira hydro-electric project, which will increase the plant’s generation capacity by 64 MW.

Namibia’s power utility, NamPower plans to boost its capacity by 800 MW around 2009 by constructing the Kudu power station, which will be powered by gas.

The Maguga power station in Swaziland, which is due for completion in 2007, will add another 20 MW to the regional grid while four projects in Tanzania scheduled for completion between 2005 and 2007 have a combined capacity of 220 MW.

The Tanzanian projects, two each at Ubungo and Kinyerezi, will be powered by gas.

Zambia has earmarked four projects for expansion or refurbishment between 2006 and 2009, an exercise that will boost its generation capacity by 1 290 MW.

The Kafue Gorge Lower hydro-electric station, south of Lusaka, is expected to have a capacity of 600 MW when its capacity is expanded at a projected cost of US$500 million.

The Zambian government plans to export most of the power produced at this plant to Zimbabwe, Botswana and the DRC. The existing plant, known as the Kafue Gorge Upper power plant, currently produces 900 MW. The combined output of the two plants will be 1 500 MW after completion of the World Bank-funded rehabilitation programme.

The governments of Zambia and the DRC have agreed to upgrade their 220-kilovolt (KV) regional inter-connection to an improved transmission level to allow other Sadc countries to tap Inga’s energy supplies.

Zambia’s Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) and the DRC’s Snel have made headway in the planned upgrading project that includes construction of a new 220-KV line between Chingola in Zambia and Karavia near the southern DRC city of Lubumbashi. CEC officials say in addition to the new transmission line, the two countries will also repair the current 220-KV line to significantly raise the amount of hydro-power that can be transmitted from DRC to other Sadc countries.

The Zambia-Tanzania Intercon-nection Project involves construction of a 700 km, 330-KV transmission line to supply up to 200 MW of power at an estimated cost of US$153 million to both countries.

Namibia’s and Botswana’s electricity utilities, NamPower and BPC respectively, have agreed to build a cross-border transmission line at a cost of US$7,7 million.

Refurbishment of the Kariba South and Hwange power stations in Zimbabwe will boost energy output by 960 MW between 2007 and 2008 while a new gas project at Lupani to the west of the country will generate 300 MW of power by 2009.

At least 26 long-term power projects with a total generation capacity of 31 743 MW are on the cards to further boost regional generation capacity. These will build on the increased capacity created by the short-term expansion projects, and are expected to be operational between 2010 and 2027.

The most significant of these is the giant Western Power Corridor (WESTCOR) project initially involving five Sadc countries but other member states can join.

WESTCOR is a regional project conceived through the combined initiative of the Sadc Secretariat and the power utilities of Angola, Botswana, DRC, Namibia and South Africa.

The project seeks to exploit the hydroelectricity energy of the Inga rapids site in the DRC and on completion around 2010, it will add about an extra 3,500 MW to the SAPP grid.

Another major hydroelectric power project, to be known as the Grand Inga Phase One, is planned for the DRC. ‘ Sadc Today.

December 2006
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