THE Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) is expected to conclude financing arrangements with an Indian contractor this month to facilitate commencement of the Bulawayo Thermal Power Station re-powering project by the first quarter of 2022, a senior Government official has said.
The plant is one of the oldest in the country having been commissioned between 1947 and 1957 as an undertaking by the Municipality of Bulawayo with an initial 120MW installed capacity.
Despite being connected to the national grid through 11kV and 33kV systems, the power station’s contribution to the national grid is now minimal, which has necessitated the need for rehabilitation so as to give it a new lease of life.
Over the years, due to ageing plant equipment, the power station has lost its generation capacity, which has seen its output dropping to around 30MW per day out of the revised 90MW capacity, and zero production on some days due to operational constraints.
In 2015, the Government secured the initial funding pledge of US$87 million from the India Exim Bank to implement the repowering project with an additional US$23 million package later secured to make the total funding package of US$110 million.
However, reaching financial closure and finalisation of tender processes and contract signing have dragged over the past years resulting in delay in the project implementation.
In a recent interview, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, Dr Gloria Magombo, acknowledged the delays but said tendering for the works and contract negotiations have now been concluded, paving way for project rollout early next year.
“The Bulawayo re-powering project secured two lines of credit from the India Exim Bank amounting to US$110 million.
“Tendering for the works was completed and contract negotiations with the successful bidder (BHEL of India), have been concluded,” said Dr Magombo.
“The signing of the contract with BHEL (contractor) now requires that there be confirmed funding arrangements for the full contract price.
“ZPC is working on the financial arrangements acceptable to both the contractor and Exim Bank of India shall be designed by 31st December 2021, leading to contract signing.
“Achievement of funding draw-down and subsequent project commencement is expected in the 1st half of 2022.”
According to plant manager, Engineer Tom Chuma, one of the key developments for the repowering project will be the construction of a pipeline from Khami Dam, which will bring water for the station’s boilers.
Experts say this project is critical given that the power station requires more water among its top raw materials. It is also hoped that the project would also assist in recycling sewer-contaminated water from Khami Dam.
The Bulawayo Power Station joined to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) in 1987 after the amalgamation of all the local authority electricity undertakings.
Article Source: The Chronicle