By James Muonwa l Mashonaland West Correspondent
MAJOR blackouts are imminent after the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) ordered power utility, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), to suspend power generation at Kariba South Power Station.
The development has been attributed to fact that Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), a subsidiary of ZESA, no longer has any usable water to continue generating power at Kariba South Bank Power Station after exhausting its allocation.
In a statement weekend, ZRA Chief Executive, Munyaradzi Munodawafa said the high-level Joint Technical Committee (JTC) meetings held on November 10 and 25, 2022 held between Zimbabwean and Zambian parties to the Water Purchase Agreement (WPA) for Kariba, had noted a depletion in allocated quota, hence the need to stop operations.
“Please be advised that as of 25th November 2022, Kariba South Bank Power Station had utilised 23,89 Billion Cubic Meters (BCM) of water, accounting for 1.39 BCM(or 6.16%) above the 2022 water allocation of 22,50BCM.
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“Given that the Kariba Reservoir usable storage currently stands at a paltry 2,98 BCM or 4,60% full, and that ZESCO Limited (of Zambia) still has a positive balance of 2,44BCM (10.82%) as of 25th November 2022, ZPC/KHPC no longer has any usable water to continue undertaking power generation operations at Kariba South Bank Power Station,” said Munodawafa.
“With the current performance of the 2022/2023 rainfall season in the Kariba Lower Catchment where the river flows are yet to improve and the associated inflows from the Upper Kariba Catchment, which will only influence any potential increase in the Lake Level at Kariba during the later part of the first quarter of 2023, 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.
“If the current water utilisation 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.
“Guided by the WPA and the provisions of the ZRA Acts, as well as the agreed Reservoir Operational Framework under the JTC, where the Authority and the two Kariba Power Generation Utilities are obligated and have agreed to sustainably operate the reservoir, the Zambezi River Authority is left with no choice but to firmly guide that ZPC/KHPC immediately ensures that generation activities at the South Bank Power Station are wholly suspended henceforth, until January 2023.”
Munodawafa said a further review of the Hydrological Outlook at Kariba will be done in January to assess whether there would be any improvements in water levels resulting from the shutdown.
ZRA administers water from the iconic Kariba Dam under an existing agreement between itself, ZPC and ZESCO Limited of Zambia.