THE rehabilitation of Hwange thermal power station is set for completion by end of 2013 and this should significantly address erratic power supply in the country, incoming permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development Patterson Mbiriri said this week.
The on-going rehabilitation of the project, which started in 2007, is expected to lift power output to 700MW by August this year from the current 500MW, after the completion of repair to Units 1 and 2 of Hwange power station.
Mbiriri said treasury had so far injected more than US$50 million, with Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) pumping US$40 million into the project.
Part of the project to repair the ash and handling plant at a cost of US$35 million was being financed by the Zimbabwe Multi-Donor Trust Fund (Zimfund) and was also expected to be complete by 2013.
The EU-sponsored fund is administered by Africa Development Bank (AfDB), with ZPC as the implementing agent.
AfDB is also administering under Zimfund, an urgent water supply and sanitation rehabilitation project for the municipalities of Harare, Chitungwiza, Mutare, Masvingo, Kwekwe and Chegutu in line with the government's Short-Term Emergency Recovery Programme (Sterp).
Mbiriri said in order to address the erratic power supply holistically, the ministry would have to focus more on the transmission and distribution grid.
However, this would be a challenge, given the archaic primary equipment available, he said.
"A lot of primary equipment is very old and urgently needs to be refurbished," Mbiriri said. "Key equipment such as reactors are out of service due to their old age as most of these were installed in the 1960s."
Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company is also set to embark on a roll-out programme to install 5,5 million compact fluorescent lamps in homes and institutions to save electricity.
Mbiriri said the exercise would save about 180MW of power, adding this would also help the prepaid metering programme to be launched this year.
Zimbabwe is facing chronic power shortages, where output is about 1300MW against national demand of 2200MW, albeit total installed capacity is 1960 MW. According to a Medium-Term Plan review report, domestic power generation declined by 1,2% to 1280MW in January and February from the 1295MW registered in December 2011.