12-hour load-shedding to continue until April review – Zesco

ZESCO Limited says daily power load-shedding of between 10 to 12 hours will continue until a review is done at the end of next month.

Zesco Limited senior corporate affairs director Patrick Mwila, on behalf of the company managing director Victor Mundende, briefed journalists in Lusaka this morning.

The briefing was centred on the status of the power generation, demand and any measures being taken to mitigate the power deficit.

In the presentation, Mwila talked about the rainfall performance and other hydrological factors and indicators, insofar as reservoir operations, the Victoria Falls and the small hydropower stations, the integrated picture of the expected total generation from Zesco and all the Independent Power Producers (IPPs), power imports and exports, short-term mitigation and management of power deficit and an appeal to its clients on power usage.

He said the main challenge, with power generation, was the reduced dam water levels at the end of 2019: “where we ended with only about eight per cent at Kariba and 14 per cent at Itezhi tezhi.”

“The rainy season has been relatively good as experienced on both the Zambezi and Kafue river basins. Yes, the start was not very good in November and early December but there have been reports of even floods in some different parts of the country. But we’ll be seeing how that impacts the catchment areas – that’s where it matters most,” he said.

“The net effect has been continued low generation levels which has meant the need to maintain the same load management levels, as at the beginning of this year.”

Mwila explained that Zesco was continuously re-assessing the availability of the water resource at the various generation points or power stations, especially and notably the Kafue Gorge Power Station, Itezhi tezhi Power Station and also the Kariba North Bank Complex (a combination of the original Kariba North Bank Power Station as well as the Kariba North Bank Extension).

“We are continuously analysing what’s going on there, with a view of arriving at an ultimate generation forecast for the remaining part of the year, especially for the period between 1st April to December 31st 2020,” Mwila noted.

“It should be noted that the current deficit in power generation is standing at 810 megawatts. It should be noted that this deficit has moved from 272 megawatts, to 425 megawatts, then 690 megawatts, respectively for the months of June, August and September 2019.”

He said despite the current load-shedding regime, “we have noticed that we have had to over-generate (generating beyond the anticipated plans).”

“In terms of the management of the deficit, the current 10 to 12 hour load-shedding regime is where we are. Currently, we are sitting in the window of 10 to 12 hours of load-shedding which was implemented and revised. You may be aware that there was a time when we went to 15 hours, at the worst point. Things have somewhat improved a little bit,” Mwila explained.

He further disclosed that ESKOM imports came to an end on February 29 this year.

Meanwhile, Mwila said the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), the owners and operators of the Kariba Dam, has allocated Zesco with 11 billion cubic metres of water.

“When we look at the trend from January, what have we used? At this point, as at March 10, we have used 2.7 billion cubic metres. We have already used 25 per cent of what we were allocated [with],” said Mwila.

According to Zesco, as at March 12, 2020, the water levels at Kariba were at 12 per cent full, compared with 42.99 per cent full at the same time last year.

The power utility added that the ideal capacity of the lake was 69 per cent full, implying that the water levels were currently significantly low.

However, the Zambezi River Authority has indicated that water levels at Kariba Dam have continued to steadily rise with 477.17m being recorded on March 3 compared to 481.20 recorded last year on the same day.

And the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) says the lowest water flows at the Victoria Falls to date were during the 1995/96 season.

According to the ZRA’s website, the Kariba Lake is designed to operate between levels of 475.50m and 488.50m (with 0.70m freeboard) for hydropower generation.

“The Lake level has continued rising steadily as inflows in the lake increases, closing the period under review at 477.17m (11.55 per cent usable storage) on 3rd March 2020. Last year on the same date, the Lake level was 481.20m (40.82 per cent usable storage),” revealed the ZRA.

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