Zimbabwe decommissions aging thermal power stations due to rising costs

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Zimbabwe is decommissioning three old thermal power stations, which the government says have become costly to run, according to media reports Friday.

Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority Holdings, a state-owned power utility, has started decommissioning the power plants in Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati due to their deteriorating conditions and rising operational costs, according to The Herald, Zimbabwe’s largest daily newspaper.

Energy and Power Development Minister Edgar Moyo was quoted as saying that the decision to decommission the plants was largely driven by their age and the escalating costs of running coal-fired generators.

The thermal power plants, with a combined capacity of 240 megawatts (MW), ceased generating electricity between July and September 2023. The decision to decommission the plants was made in October last year, and the process is now underway. The plants, now aged an average of 75 years, had significantly exceeded their intended lifespan of 25 years, and operating them had thus become financially unsustainable, Moyo said.

The country’s poor rail infrastructure also contributed to rising operational costs as transporting coal by road was expensive, Moyo added. The power stations were getting their coal from Hwange in northwest Zimbabwe.

He also said that repowering the power stations for extended life was difficult because of limited access to funding for fossil fuel projects due to climate change concerns.