Zimbabwe, Zambia fail to exhaust Kariba water allocation for electricity

BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI

Zimbabwe and Zambia failed to utilise their maximum water allocation for electricity generation from Kariba Dam in August, it has been revealed.

The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) said the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) had a balance of 5.28 billion cubic meters (BCM) of water while the Zesco Limited of Zambia had a balance of 3.65 BCM.

In the past month, Zimbabwe has endured power cuts due to depressed electricity generation, especially at the Hwange thermal power station.

It was not immediately clear why ZPC was not fully utilising its water allocation at the Kariba Dam to maximise on the electricity generation.

“As of 31st August 2021, ZESCO Limited had utilised 17.35 BCM of its 21 BCM water allocation (83% utilisation), while the Zimbabwe Power Company had utilised 15.72 BCM of its 21 BCM water allocation (75% utilisation),” ZRA chief executive officer Munyaradzi Munodawafa said in the latest update.

“This leaves a balance of 3.65 BCM and 5.28 BCM for ZESCO and ZPC, respectively, for utilisation during the remaining period of the year 2021.”

According to ZPC, on Monday the Kariba hydropower station was generating 680 megawatts (MW) of electricity of 1 626 MW.

The combined output from Kariba and the country’s thermal power stations was 1 174 MW against peak demand of 1 700 MW.

The ZRA said it will maintain the monthly water allocation for Zimbabwe and Zambia at the 42 BCM despite indications that water levels were receding.

It said lake levels at Kariba on September 1 stood at 481.55m compared to the last update made on August 4, which was at 482.16m.

“It has receded by 0.61m,” Munodawafa said.

“Currently, the lake level is 6.05 meters above the mnimum operating level (MOL) of 475.50m. “

The recorded level of September 1s, 2021 translated to 28.16 BCM or 43.45% of usable or live storage.

“The authority has maintained the 42 BCM combined water allocation for power generation operations at Kariba for 2021 after it was revised upward from 30 BCM on 25th June 2021.”

Last year on the same date, the Kariba dam level was lower at 480.48m with 22.94BCM or 35.40% of usable storage, with the water being only 4.98m above the MOL.

The decision to increase water allocation for power generation was a result of the second quarter review of the hydrological outlook at Kariba that considered the normal to above normal rainfall performance and associated increased inflows into Kariba Dam.

ZRA is scheduled to undertake the next quarterly hydrological review at the end of September 2021, and this may result in” either maintaining, increasing, or reducing” the volume of water allocated for power generation operations at Kariba for the year 2021.

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