Zimbabwe power crisis to worsen as Kariba shuts down
Zimbabwe power crisis is set to worsen after the entity that manages southern Africa’s biggest dam ordered the suspension of electricity generation at its main hydro plant because of a water shortage.
In a letter dated Nov. 25 and seen by The NewsReportLive, the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) told the Zimbabwe Power Company that the Kariba South hydropower station had used more than its 2022 water allocation and that the Kariba Dam’s usable storage was only 4.6% full.
The ZRA manages the Kariba Dam on behalf of the Zimbabwean and Zambian governments.
“The Zambezi River Authority is left with no choice but to firmly guide that … generation activities at the South Bank Power Station are wholly suspended henceforth until January 2023 when a further review of the substantive hydrological outlook at Kariba will be undertaken,” the letter read.
Zimbabwe has suffered acute power shortages for several years, as successive droughts have resulted in poor inflows into the Kariba Dam and its ageing coal-fired plants have repeatedly broken down.
“With the current performance of the 2022/2023 rainfall season in the Kariba Lower Catchment where the river flows are yet to improve and the associated inflows from the Upper Kariba Catchment, which will only influence any potential increase in the Lake Level at Kariba during the later part of the first quarter of 2023, it is highly unlikely that there will be any reasonable inflow augmentation in the remaining period of the year 2022, giving little or no chance of improvement in the reservoir storage levels during the remaining period of the year 2022 and going into the first quarter of the year 2023.
The government has licensed some independent solar producers to try to augment supply.
Kariba South has an installed capacity of 1,050 megawatts but has been producing well below that due to low water levels in the dam.
Zimbabwe has been reeling under acute power shortages, with industry and households going for long hours without electricity.
The mining sector has been hit the hardest with companies reporting losing up 12 hours of production time.