New Mini Hydro Power Plant on the Cards

Harare-Independent power producer Nyangani Renewable Energy (NRE), which operates mini-power plants in the Manicaland Province said it will this year start construction of a new 2, 3 megawatt (MW) mini hydro power station in Honde Valley.

This becomes the group’s sixth mini hydro project in the Eastern Highlands.

NRE has four operational run-of-river mini hydro electrical power stations with combined capacity of 21, 1 MW. This capacity is by definition, seasonal and correlates directly with river flow levels. Based on long term averages the annual energy produced by these stations is just over 64,000 kilowatt hour per year.

NRE has a fifth project in the commission stages which will add 3,75 MW capacity and about 10 000kWh per annum of energy.

NRE managing director Ian McKersie told Southern Times work on the project was expected to commence before year end.

“We are in the planning stages a 2, 3 MW run of river mini hydroelectric power station in Honde Valley. We plan to have this operation by end of this year, and only await statutory approvals prior to commencing work,” McKersie said.

McKersie said low rainfall patterns were disrupting generation.

“Generation this hydrological year is disappointingly low due to the poor rainfall,” he said.

Zimbabwe has a finite number of sites for mini hydro development and it is in the national interest that each site is developed to maximise annual energy output without over capitalising development. It is worth pointing out that these power stations are “run-of-river” and can only operate when the rivers are flowing, so the output is seasonal.

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Experts contend that Zimbabwe requires huge investments in power generation and need to attract more independent power producers (IPPs) to ease electricity challenges currently besetting the economy.

To date over 15 IPPs were licensed by Government and they are at various levels of implementation with funding reportedly being the major hurdle.
Currently Zimbabwe requires about 2 200 megawatts during peak hours, but is presently generating about 1 400MW, with the balance imported from the regional countries such as Mozambique and South Africa.

Apart from efforts being made by IPPs the government is also working on a number of projects to increase power generation. These projects include refurbishments and expansion of Hwange, Harare, Bulawayo, Munyati and Kariba Power stations.

Efforts are also being made to construct new power station such as Batoka Power Station and Dema Emergency Diesel Power Station. (Reported by Tichaona Owen Kurewa)