Chinese-funded 300 MW unit at Zimbabwe's biggest coal-fired power plant to be operational by March

HARARE, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- A new 300-megawatt unit at Zimbabwe's biggest coal-fired power plant will start operating in March, the deputy minister of Energy and Power Development Magna Mudyiwa said Wednesday.

The 300 MW unit is part of two generators making up the Hwange Thermal Power Station Unit 7 and 8 Expansion Project being undertaken by Chinese firm Sinohydro under a facility from the Export-Import Bank of China (China Eximbank). When complete, the two units are expected to have a combined generating capacity of 600 MW.

The first generating unit at the Hwange Thermal Power Station went on stream in November.

The state media The Herald quoted Mudyiwa as saying that the second unit is due for commissioning by March.

Zimbabwe has been facing acute power shortages in recent months, and the additional power from the second unit is expected to go a long way in easing power shortages in the country.

Mudyiwa said Zimbabwe has the capacity to generate up to 2,100 MW from its power plants but is currently generating about 1,000 MW, against an electricity demand of 1,700 MW.

The country plugs the shortfall through imports from the region, but a dearth of foreign currency and power shortages within the Southern African Power Pool have also affected electricity trading on the regional market, thereby limiting Zimbabwe's power imports.

Zimbabwe's power shortages have been worsened by low water levels in Kariba Dam, resulting in Zimbabwe's 1,050 MW Kariba South Bank Power Station reducing generation.

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