ZESA subsidiary Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) has surpassed its power generation targets by 7,69% in the third quarter of 2021 to hit a total of 2 203GWh, largely driven by output from Kariba Power Station, which accounted for 64% of total production.

Hwange Power Station supplied 33% and the small thermals contributed 3%, according to a ZPC power bulletin for the third quarter of 2021 released yesterday.

Despite the good performance, the country reels under a huge power crisis that has crippled industry, with experts and industry bodies warning this could affect capacity utilisation across the board and threaten viability of firms.

Companies have had to resort to expensive diesel-powered generators, while some players have invested in multi-million-dollar solar plants.

Zimbabwe had hoped to eliminate the power deficit after completion of huge Chinese-funded thermal power projects at Hwange, but this remains uncertain given a growing push against use of fossil fuels in favour of more environmentally friendly renewable energy.

China has said it will not fund coal-related projects outside its borders.

Out of the total production, ZPC said, with 5% exported to Nam Power, generation was constrained at thermal stations mainly because of low plant availability as a result of age.

“As at the end of the third quarter Kariba Power Station had utilised 17,645Bm3 of water leaving 3,355Bm3 for generation for the rest of the year,” ZPC said.

“Zambezi River Authority allocated 30Bm3 [billion cubic metres] to Kariba North and Kariba South Power Stations for generation in 2021. Kariba South Power Station had an annual water allocation of 15Bm3, which corresponds to an annual average capacity of 381MW [megawatts].”

The water allocation was later reviewed to 42Bm3, which translates to 21Bm3 per utility.

This, ZPC said, increased the annual average capacity from 381MW to 550MW.

The bulletin said the lake level dropped from 482,70m at the beginning of the quarter to 480,93m at the end of September 2021, representing a 1,77m decrease over the quarter. The lake level at the end of the same quarter last year was 479,85m.

ZPC said the Hwange expansion project, recently toured by journalists along with Zesa Holdings chair Sydney Gata, continues to progress well, having commenced the third quarter at 67,97% and closing at 72,18%.

“The project is, however, behind schedule due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in low levels of manpower on site as a result of travel restrictions,” said ZPC, adding that it had made headway on the Deka Upgradation Project.