ENERGY minister Matthew Nkhuwa says if Zesco had maintained normal electricity generation at Kariba North Bank Complex in Siavonga, the power plant could have shut down by November this year.
Meanwhile, the minister says load-management further reduces the risk of damage to national power system infrastructure.
Nkhuwa was updating the nation in Parliament on Wednesday, on the current electricity situation in Zambia and the various programmes that the government was spearheading, through his ministry.
He told the House that the water inflows in both the Kariba and Itezhi Tezhi reservoirs were lower than the normal and that the dam levels continued to recede.
“For instance, the Zambezi River flows into Kariba dam were reported at 247 cubic metres per second as at 8th September 2019, which are below the normal trend that averages about 365 cubic metres per second,” Nkhuwa said.
“The lake level at Kariba dam, as of 8th September 2019 was 478.28 metres above the sea level. In September 2015, the lake level was 479.79 metres, representing a 1.51 metre reduction.”
Nkhuwa explained that the poor rainy season experienced in both the Zambezi and Kafue basins had negatively affected major hydro power plants on the Zambezi and Kafue rivers.
He added that with the prevailing and forecasted hydraulic conditions, load management was implemented on June 1, this year, with an initial duration of four hours.
“After further assessment of the Kariba dam levels, as at 1st September 2019, Zambezi River Authority recommended that generation be adjusted to 290 mega watts to the end of the year. Zesco hydrologists also recommended that generation at Kafue Gorge Power Station be revised to 625 mega watts,” Nkhuwa explained.
“It should be noted that in both cases generation levels were reduced to allow for planning and operation in 2019/2020. In view of the above measures, the generation situation at Kariba North Bank Complex and Kafue Gorge Power Station, the power deficit has been increasing and currently stands at an average of 600 mega watts, with the deficits reaching 700 mega watts during peak times.”
The minister pointed out that: “we are currently implementing load management as a measure to prolong the operations at our main generation stations.”
“This programme further reduces the risk of damage to national power system infrastructure. If implemented effectively, the main objective of the load management is to minimise the effects on economic activities in the country while ensuring that energy is conserved in our major reservoirs to be utilised in early 2020,” he said.
Nkhuwa revealed that: “if Zesco had maintained normal generation at Kariba North Bank Complex, with the current low water levels, this would result into shutting down the plant by November 2019.”
“Average generation at Kafue Gorge, which produces 990 mega watts, further reduced from 700 mega watts to 625 mega watts to prolong the water resources in Itezhi Tezhi reservoirs,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Nkhuwa indicated that the availability of Independent Power Producers (IPPs), namely Mamba Collieries Limited power plant with 300 mega watts, Itezhi Tezhi Power Corporation 120 mega watts, Ndola Energy Company Limited 105 mega watts and the recently commissioned renewable energy plants – Ngonye and Bangweulu solar power plants – have contributed to mitigating the power crisis in the country.
“However, Lunsemfwa Hydro Power Company shut down its operations in July 2019 due to non-availability of water for generation purposes,” said Nkhuwa.