Zimbabwe’s load shedding is likely to worsen as the festive season gets into full swing following the ordering of the power utility Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) to, with immediate effect, stop generating power at Kariba Power Station, by the Zambezi Water Authority (ZRA) citing low water levels.
ZRA administers the Kariba Dam on behalf of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Water storage at the dam is at 4.6 percent of capacity, below the levels needed to run power generation operations at the Kariba South Bank power station.
This comes at a time when the country has already been experiencing prolonged power cuts.
Kariba is the main source of power for Zimbabwe generating more electricity than any other station.
The country generates 1,050 megawatts of power from the Kariba power plant, half of its installed capacity of 2,100 megawatts.
“It is highly unlikely that there will be any reasonable inflow augmentation in the remaining period of the year 2022, giving little or no chance of improvement in the reservoir storage levels during the remaining period of the year 2022 and going into the first quarter of the year 2023,” said ZRA chief executive officer, Munyaradzi Munodawafa, in his letter to ZPC managing director, dated 25 November.
“If the current water use above allocation at Kariba South Bank Power Station continues, the remaining water for power generation at Kariba (live storage) will run out by mid-December 2022 or much earlier.”
He further explained: “The Zambezi River Authority is left with no choice but to firmly guide that (Kariba South and Kariba South Extension) immediately ensure that generation activities at the South Bank Power Station are wholly suspended henceforth, until January 2023.”
The position, Munodawafa said, would be reviewed in January when the substantive hydrological outlook at Kariba will be undertaken “which will include consideration of the total reservoir live storage build-up which would have resulted from a shutdown of the Kariba South Bank Power Station power generation operations.”