Zim IPPs' Power Output Drops

By Kenneth Matimaire

Mutare, October 19, 2016 – INDEPENDENT Power Producers (IPP)’s energy supply to the national grid has drastically dropped owing to the low dam levels since most of the operating IPPs are hydro powered.

Reports indicate that only a mere 6 megawatts is currently being channeled through the national grid by two IPPs namely, Pungwe B and Green Fuel.

This is against a combined output of over 30MW fed to the national grid by the existing hydro-powered plants.

RadioVOP established that the Zimbabwe Regulatory Authority (ZERA) has licensed over 22 IPPs with only 10, mostly hydro powered, operating.

Overally, the combined installed power output for the 10 IPPs is approximately over 120MW.

However, some produce for own consumption.

This is the case with Triangle Estates (45MW), Hippo Valley (33MW) and Border Timbers Limited (0,5MW).

Those that feed into the national grid include Green Fuel’s Chisumbanje biomass plant (18,3MW) and the Nyangani Renewable Energy owned Duru (2,2MW), Nyamhingura (1,1MW), Pungwe A (2,75MW), Pungwe B (15,25MW) and C (2,72MW), and a 100kW micro hydro power plant commissioned in Marange District.

Chisumbanje also produce for own consumption but also supply the surplus to the national grid while the Nyamhingura small hydro power plants, wholly supply their combined output.

Information gathered highlights that Pungwe B is supplying 2MW while Green Fuel is supplying 4MW against a total of over 30MW which is supplied by all the operating IPPs to the national grid.

Though ZERA chief executive officer Gloria Magombo could not ascertain the figures on Friday, she acknowledged that the output was currently low.

Magombo attributed the power deficit to the low dam levels as most of the IPPs are run off rivers.

She said most of the operating hydro-based IPPs have either temporarily closed for repairs and maintenance, which triggers low power output.

“They (IPPs) are run off rivers, so most of the small hydro (plants), this time of the year operate at minimum output. Most of them are closed for repairs and maintenance. It doesn’t mean that they are not operating; this is how they operate because the river levels are quite low at this time of the year,” she said.

“Some of the independent power producers produce power for own consumption, which is where the majority power capacity is. 75MW of that comes from four (power) generators, which are in Hippo Valley and Triangle. They are producing for own consumption.

“Therefore some IPPs are for own consumption and others produce power for sell, which is what most of the small mini hydros, and run off river powered plants do,” she added.

The country’s major dam levels were greatly affected by the El Nino induced poor rains.

Magombo said she will have to corroborate the reported figures with the respective companies to get the latest details.

However, no feedback could be obtained from ZERA on time of going to print.

This was the case with questions send to Nyamhingura Renewable Energy managing director Ian Mckersie and Green Fuel official Nicole Rautenbach.

Most interestingly, while small IPPs are already operational, the big independent energy producers licensed by government are yet to take of the ground.

Such can be said about of the licensed IPPs include Essar Africa Holdings (600MW), China Africa Sunlight (Pvt) Limited (120MW), Sengwa Power Station (2,400MW), Lusulu Power Plant, to the north of Sengwa in Binga (2,000MW) and Eunafric Power Station (120MW).