THE Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) has embarked on an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for its US$100 million mini hydro power plant in Gairezi, Nyanga, expected to produce up to 30 mega watts (MW) of electricity.
ZPC has appointed Ascon Africa Environmental Consultants to conduct the EIA, said ZPC.
The move marks significant development in the project, probably the first new power generation project since independence in 1980.
ZPC, a subsidiary of Zesa Holdings in charge of generating electricity, was granted a licence for the project last year and feasibility studies for the project have been concluded.
In a notice seen by The Financial Gazette's Companies & Markets (C&M), the ZPC said the development of the Gairezi mini hydro power project on Gairezi River, situated about 275km Northeast of Harare and 120km from Mutare, was progressing.
The project is expected to take between 25 and 35 months to complete and the engineering phase, which involves generation of specifications, tendering for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor and EIA, is already progressing.
"The project envisages harnessing the hydro-power potential of the river by construction of a diversified dam across Gairezi to divert the design flows to a power house through a Head race tunnel," said ZPC.
The country is experiencing huge power deficits which have impacted negatively on industrial performance and consequently the economy, with the country generating an average of 1 200MW out of a requirement of 2 200MW.
ZPC also said it was considering re-activating the Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati thermal power plants.
The company said the project involved replacing the current boiler plants with new Circulating Fluidised Bed (CFB) technology.
It said this would increase the generating capacities of the three power stations to 340MW from the existing installed capacity of 310MW. The development comes as power generation for all thermal power stations was below target during the first half of the year.
The low generation capacity has been attributed to breakdowns at Hwange Power Station, resulting in loss of Generators 1 and 2.
Intermittent generation at all the three thermal power stations was due to costly transportation of coal and ageing equipment and temporary loss of Kariba Generator 2 owing to modernisation work.
Last month, Hytoric Enterprises announced that it was planning a 600 megawatts (MW) power generation plant in Zimbabwe.
Hytoric, which trades as Southern Energy, has since submitted its proposal to the Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory Authority (ZERA) for approval.
ZERA said the project was meant to generate and supply electricity to the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) and other customers in the country.
ZERA said the proposed power plant would be situated at Entuba Coalfields in Hwange in the North Western part of the country.
In a bid to compliment power generation at Kariba, Hwange and other smaller power stations, government opened up the sector to independent power producers.
ZERA has since licensed 10 independent power producers with a capacity to generate over 5 000MW of electricity.