Maputo — The Mozambican publicly-owned electricity company EDM and the South African petro-chemical giant Sasol on Thursday laid the first stone for the construction of a new gas-fired power station at Ressano Garcia, on the Mozambique-South Africa border.
The Ressano Garcia Thermal Power Station (CTRG), powered by natural gas extracted by Sasol from the southern Mozambican province of Inhambane, will produce 175 megawatts of electricity.
Construction will cost 250 million US dollars. The CTRG is 51 per cent owned by EDM, and 49 per cent by SASOL. The power generated will be sold in Mozambique.
Addressing the ceremony, Mozambican Energy Minister Salvador Namburete said that CTRG should begin to generate power as from May 2014.
It forms part of the government’s efforts to increase Mozambique’s generating capacity. Namburete said the country is beginning to experience a shortage of energy, which could worsen, unless new power stations come on stream.
Currently southern Mozambique is supplied with electricity via South Africa. None of the power generated by the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi goes directly to Maputo. Instead the power lines from Cahora Bassa run roughly parallel to the Zimbabwean border, and take the electricity to the Apollo sub-station in South Africa.
Power for Maputo and the rest of southern Mozambique comes from the South African electricity company, Eskom. This is treated as Cahora Bassa power, in that EDM pays the Cahora Bassa operating company, HCB, for it. EDM also pays Eskom a rental for use of its lines.
The Ressano Garcia station will greatly reduce the need to import power from South Africa, and will almost certainly come on stream before new power lines from the Zambezi Valley to the south are concluded. These lines are needed because the existing Cahora Bassa lines cannot possibly carry all the energy that will be generated from the various new power stations (hydro-electric and coal fired) planned for Tete province.
However, given the current pace of economic development in Mozambique and the rest of the southern African region, the projected new lines from Tete (often referred to as “the backbone” of the national grid) will not provide all the power needed in a few years’ time, Namburete warned. CTRG will thus always be a useful supplementary source of power for the EDM grid.
This is the second gas-fired power station in Ressano Garcia. The first, inaugurated in July, was built by the Glasgow-based company Aggreko, and can generate 107 megawatts. Most of the production (92 megawatts) is being sold to Eskom, and the remaining 15 megawatts to EDM.