Zimbabwe’s electricity provider, Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), has started implementing countrywide 12-hour load shedding due to generation issues and limited imports.
ZETDC released a load shedding schedule on Sunday, confirming the country is experiencing a power shortfall due to generation constraints at the thermal power station Hwange, which is almost 40 years old. In addition, maintenance work on the dam wall at the hydropower station Kariba requires two generators to be offline daily for 12 hours. Zimbabwe is also seeing limited power imports.
"The power shortfall is being managed through load shedding in order to balance the power supply available and the connected load," said ZEDTC.
The load shedding will be implemented countrywide, and will include industrial areas as well as agriculture. The load shedding is expected to be particularly painful for wheat farmers, who are currently irrigating their crops.
But major hospitals, water and sewer installations as well as oxygen-producing plants may be spared where possible.
Zimbabwe's demand for power hovers around 2 000 MW. However, due to ageing equipment, existing power plants are generating far below the national requirement. On Sunday, Zimbabwe produced only 1 196 MW.
The Hwange power station is currently being expanded, and is expected to add 600 MW to the national grid – along with other new projects. This includes projects at the Zambezi Gas and Coal Mine, which is envisaged to produce 750 MW on completion. Projects at Western Areas (600 MW), Jinan (600 MW), Tsingshan (100 MW) and Zimbabwe Zhongxin Electrical Energy (430 MW) will also contribute to electricity supply.
According to Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando, these power projects have the potential to earn at least US$3 billion (~R43 billion) in annual energy exports.
Most of these projects are expected to start producing power from 2023 and in total, they "will give us 5 030 MW," according to Chitando.