Zimbabwe’s Hwange Thermal Power Station expansion project has reached 65% completion following a nine-month delay due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The expansion includes the addition of units 7 and 8, each capable of 300 MW capacity, as part of the third phase of an extension program that will increase the power station’s capacity to 1,520 MW.
It also includes the installation of two giant boiler-turbine-generator sets with a combined capacity of 600 MW, as well as upgrades such as extensions to cooling towers and other civil and electrical engineering tasks. Due to the high level of maintenance work required by thermal power stations, the project will see the renovation and upgrading of older units in addition to the introduction of units 7 and 8.
Unit 7 was expected to be operational by October this year and unit 8 by January 2022. However, the progress was delayed by 258 days due to challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Engineers noted that should these challenges be addressed, unit 7 would be operational by January 2022, with unit 8 becoming operational soon thereafter.
“We should be at 90% overall now, but because of COVID-19, we are at 65%, with a delay of 258 days. COVID-19 affected design, manufacturing and logistics, and manpower mobilization,” stated Project Manager Engineer, Forbes Chanakira, while briefing Richard Moyo, Minister of State for Matabeleland Province North Provincial Affairs and Devolution, during an onsite tour on 18 May.
The Hwange Thermal Power station is the largest of its kind in Zimbabwe and is a joint operation between Sino Hydro Mauritius (36%) and Zimbabwe Power Company (64%). Expansion of the new units is expected to reduce Zimbabwe’s reliance on energy importation from neighboring countries and alleviate pressure on the national grid.
Following completion of the extension program, Hwange Power Station will operate four 120 MW units, introduced during its first phase, and two 220 MW units from the second phase of operation.