Government has sourced equipment worth $12 million to boost power generation at the Hwange Thermal Power Station in Matabeleland North province.
With an installed capacity of producing 920MW, power output at Hwange Thermal has over the years dropped to about 500MW and below due to incessant equipment breakdown and low coal supplies among other challenges. The Ash handling plant has newly fitted equipment that sucks out waste from turbines including ash and water, which are then pumped to a disposal collection point about 5km away from the power station and is meant to prevent overspill of environmentally hazardous chemicals besides improving performance of power generators.
The Ash handling and moveable plant equipment worth $12 million was sourced through the Zimbabwe Multi-donor Trust Fund (ZimFund). Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Samuel Undenge handed over the equipment at the plant yesterday where he was briefed about the constraints facing the country's main thermal power producer.
Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) Hwange Thermal Station manager, Eng Arnold Chiuraise, said the plant was crippled by shortage of critical spares and raw materials such as coal. He reported that five of the six units are operational producing about 560MW against a capacity of 920MW, with Unit 6 undergoing refurbishment.
"We are having challenges sourcing spares for ageing tubes for boilers because of inadequate funding. We have started refurbishing Unit 6 but we are facing challenges of raw materials hence we are currently operating below our recommended stock. We are not receiving adequate coal supply from the source such as Hwange Colliery though they have now promised to improve," said Eng Chiuraise.
He said if all units were functional, ZPC would be scaling down some of them because of inadequate coal supply. In his official address Minister Undenge said rehabilitation of power infrastructure was a national priority since energy is a key for economic recovery. "The project is meant to help improve the reliability of electricity supply to various urban water treatment plants and sewage plants. The capacity to move ash from the boilers to the disposal dams was restricted leading to ash build up hence curtailing generation," said Minister Undenge.
He said Hwange Power station was losing 1 000 gigawatts of electricity due to high concentration of ash in the plants. "Rehabilitation of the ash handling plant has been critical to ensure continuous operation of power generation units at the power station by preventing build-up of ash in the boilers that could lead to a complete shutdown of generating units," he said. "I am glad that this mobile plant equipment will be used to ensure effective ash dam management and containment of ash dust pollution."
The movable equipment include compactors, hydraulic excavators, articulated water trucks and pipe trucks and will be used to rehabilitate the waste collection site. Minister Undenge said rehabilitation of the ash plant will result in improved power supply. ZimFund has contributions from the African Development Bank (AfDB, and donor countries namely Australia, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, and United Kingdom. ZimFund started in 2010 and country representative Mrs Christina Landsberg said it will wind up in 2019.
"ZimFund aims to improve quality of life of people of Zimbabwe through access to energy and has mobilized $140,86 million since 2010," she said. The rehabilitation of the ash plant started in 2013 and was done in two phases. Work comprised replacement of pumps, sub transmission cables and construction of a building from where the plant will be remotely controlled.
In attendance were traditional leaders Chiefs Shana who represented Minister of State for Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs, Nekatambe, Mvuthu and Hwange as well as heads of various government departments and development partners.