Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, columnist
THE Hwange Thermal Power Plant expansion project is now 67.9% complete, with important milestones being taken on the road to aid and self-sufficiency in power generation in the country.
The US $ 1.5 billion expansion program includes the addition of Units 7 and 8 which are expected to add 600 MW combined to the national grid.
In a statement released yesterday, the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) said that despite the delay in completing the project due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, a number of milestones had been taken to date.
The Hwange 7 and 8 units and the existing plant will generate an average of 1,300 MW.
The project is expected to be completed in 2022.
âDespite delays in project completion dates due to the effects of Covid-19, a number of notable milestones have been reached to date. These include the completion of the cooling tower shell, installation of generator stators for units 7 and 8, erection of the tower on the transmission and distribution side, and installation of hydroelectric turbines. Benefits that will be realized upon completion of the project include self-sufficiency in power generation and reduction in power imports. It will also serve as a catalyst for economic growth with 10 percent of the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract ($ 117,379,205) going to local resources, skills transfer from overseas counterparts to the local community. , with the creation of jobs of approximately 5,000 workers will be employed at the peak, that is to say 1,300 foreigners and 3,600 Zimbabweans â, indicates the statement.
âThe Hwange 7 and 8 expansion project involves the construction of two units of 300 MW each which are added to the existing 920 MW Hwange power plant. This is one of the key projects that is expected to bring relief and self-sufficiency to power generation in the country.
âThe project’s engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract was signed in October 2014, followed by efforts to secure financing for the project. A loan agreement with China Eximbank was signed in December 2015, with the project starting on August 1, 2018. Due to its importance, the project was granted national project status.
ZPC said the total project cost of $ 1.5 billion includes $ 1.17 billion for EPC costs while the balance of about $ 330 million covers development and financing costs.
The China Eximbank loan of $ 998 million covers 85% of the costs of the EPC, while the rest of the project financing comes from ZPC and Sinohydro which are the contractors of the project.
ZPC said the Hwange 7 and 8 expansion project was the first public-private partnership project in the power sub-sector.
The expansion project is taking place in parallel with the modernization of the Deka pumping station and the construction of a 42 km water pipeline between the Deka river and the Hwange thermal power station.
This development is envisioned to solve the ongoing water supply problems for the power plant, which requires approximately 3,500 cubic meters of raw water per hour for power supply. [emailÂ protected]