Maputo — Cuamba (Mozambique), 25 Oct (AIM) - Banking on solar power and on gas fired power stations will bring Mozambique comparative advantages, according to the Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Augusto Fernando.
Speaking to reporters in the town of Cuamba, after a working visit to the northern provinces of Nampula and Niassa, Fernando pointed out that the low levels of water in the Zambezi river meant that Mozambique could no longer rely on the Cahora Bassa dam to supply the bulk of its electricity needs.
Because there is not enough water in the artificial lake behind the dam to allow Cahora Bassa to operate at full capacity, the dam operating company HCB, has had to reduce the power used in the country from 500 to 200 megawatts. (The rest of HCB's production is tied up in contracts to sell power to South Africa and Zimbabwe).
"We've been in this situation since last year", said Fernando, "and if we didn't have the gas-fired power stations, right now we would have to impose restrictions on electricity consumption. It would be very complex".
Over the past few years, several gas fired power stations have come on stream in southern Mozambique, using the natural gas from the Pande and Temane gas fields in Inhambane province as their source of energy.
Fernando said these gas fired stations account for 30 per cent of national power consumption, which he put at 1,000 megawatts.
As for solar power, Fernando stressed the use of solar energy to produce electricity in Mocuba, in the central province of Zambezia, at Cuamba in Niassa, and at Metoro in the neighbouring province of Cabo Delgado.
"These are initiatives that could easily generate 80 megawatts", he said - which would provide over 50 per cent of the 140 megawatts used in the entire northern region.
But hydropower remains a priority, said Fernando, since it produces energy that can be used not only domestically, but can be exported to other SADC (Southern African Development Community) countries.
"The region is very interested in this energy, since hydropower stations are better able to deal with oscillations, and it is easier to operate them", he said.