Zambian hydro projects in full swing

Zambia’s Kariba North Bank hydro power station is being upgraded
Zambia’s Kariba North Bank hydro power station is being upgraded

(Image: Travel Pod)

 

 

All required funds for the US$430-million expansion of Zambia’s Kariba North Bank hydro power station have been secured, and the project is steaming ahead.

The scheme got going in 2008 with $325-million provided by Exim Bank, owned by the Chinese government. The outstanding amount of US$105-million has recently been sourced through a loan from the Development Bank of Southern African (DBSA).

The granting of the loan was announced on 26 October 2010 in Zambia.

Dr Bane Maleke, a divisional executive at DBSA, confirmed the following day that all funding is now in place. The hydro plant is owned by Zesco, Zambia’s state-owned power utility.

Maleke said the funding from China is based on an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) agreement.

Sino Hydro Corporation, also of China, is the sole project contractor, and the EPC contract means they have taken full responsibility for construction – including the supply of material and labour. The project is due to be completed by December 2012, and it’s hoped that the plant will be operational by early 2013.

The expansion plans revolve around the installation of two units with a power-generating capacity of 180MW each. “Through the additional 360MW, this loan facility will ensure that the capacity of the power station is increased from 720MW to 1 080MW,” said Maleke.

Kariba North Bank’s capacity was recently increased from 540MW, after four existing generators were upgraded.

Delivering Zambia’s 2011 budget speech on 8 October, the country’s Minister of Finance Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane said “impressive progress is being made on the Kariba North Bank Extension Project”.

Power supply is expected to improve in local communities in the Siavonga district when the project is complete, DBSA said.

More new hydro power projects

The revamp of the Kariba North Bank hydro plant, located more than 130km south of the capital city Lusaka, forms part of the Zambian government’s efforts to meet growing demand for electricity in the country.

There are advanced plans for the construction of a $1.5-billion new project, the 600MW Kafue Gorge Lower hydro station. Work will begin there by mid-2011.

Sino Hydro Corporation will also work with Zesco on this project, which Musokotwane said will be “one of Africa’s largest public-private partnerships in the energy sector”. It’s set for completion in 2016.

Kabompo Gorge and Kalungwishi hydro electric projects are due to start in 2011. “When completed over the medium-term, these projects will add about 258MW in generation capacity,” the minister added.

Zambia has potential to produce over 6 000MW of hydro electric power, but is currently exploiting less than 2 000MW, Maleke said.

Improving power access in rural Zambia

The Zambian government is also planning to develop mini-hydro power stations to improve access to electricity in rural areas as part of its Rural Electrification Programme, Musokotwane said.

He added that the about of $6.4-million allocated for the programme in 2011 is the “first step in attaining the government’s target of increasing rural access to electricity from 3% to 15% by 2015”.

“The demand for hydropower – which is considered a clean, renewable and environmentally friendly source of energy – has increased tremendously in Southern African, alongside a need to increase the generation capacity of the region,” Maleke said.

• At the time of being published, the exchange rate was R7.24 to US Dollar