Zimbabwe’s Mini Hydropower Plant Nears Completion Amidst Delays

5MW Clean Energy Project to Boost Sustainability in Masvingo

by Ikeoluwa Juliana Ogungbangbe
Zimbabwe Mini Hydropower Plant

The construction of a 5MW mini hydropower plant near Lake Mutirikwi Dam in Masvingo, Zimbabwe, is approaching completion, with the $14.5 million power station expected to be commissioned by the end of April 2024. The Great Zimbabwe Power Company, responsible for the project, has reported that the construction of this run-of-river project is currently 75% complete.

Initially scheduled for commissioning in November 2023, the project faced delays due to increased demand for irrigation water in the local cane plantations in the Lowveld region. Despite these setbacks, the construction of a 24-kilometer powerline connecting the power station to the Kyle substation is ongoing.

One of the key reasons for the construction delay was the decision by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) to release water downstream from Lake Mutirikwi, which disrupted the construction process. Additionally, heavy rains in the area over the past two months further extended the construction timeline.

Plans for Increased Generation Output

This clean energy project represents a significant step towards making Masvingo more self-sustainable in terms of clean energy production. Notably, the project has provided employment opportunities for over 150 unskilled workers from nearby communities, including Murinye and Chikwanda.

The project’s penstock, responsible for channeling water from the dam to the powerhouse, is set to power turbines that will generate electricity. Hubert Chipumbu, the project coordinator, stated, “In the next fortnight, we will start the installation of electromechanical equipment such as turbines and alternators in the powerhouse. I am also happy that work on the penstock is proceeding according to plan.”

This mini-station is part of a broader initiative to implement similar projects at larger irrigation dams, utilizing the release of irrigation water to drive turbines and supply power for pumps and other irrigation equipment. The government of Zimbabwe has announced plans to establish a second 5MW plant further downstream, doubling the power output along the Mutirikwi River to 10MW. Feasibility studies for a larger hydropower plant at Tugwi-Mukosi in southern Chivi, with a capacity of 17MW, have also been completed. The Great Zimbabwe Hydro Power Company is collaborating with Frontier Energy of Denmark and local investors, primarily the Old Mutual Life Assurance Company, to develop this 5MW hydropower project.

In recent years, Zimbabwe has been striving to diversify its energy sources and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. This mini hydropower plant represents a significant step towards achieving these goals while also providing employment opportunities and supporting the growth of clean energy in the region. Despite delays caused by various factors, the project is now on track for completion, and its successful commissioning will contribute to Zimbabwe’s energy security and sustainable development efforts.

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