POWER parastatal Zesa Holdings is dithering over the establishment of the infrastructure required to tap into its systems electricity generated at the Chisumbanje ethanol plant while the country faces a crippling power crisis.

This is at a time the country requires 2 200 megawatts but, due to constrained capacity, is currently only able to produce about 1 400MW.

GreenFuel partnered Government in a US$600 million ethanol production project in Chisumbanje, currently with the capacity to produce 18MW, using bio-waste for ethanol manufacture.

But there is no infrastructure to carry electricity from the ethanol plant onto the Zesa grid for distribution across the country.

There is need for the establishment of a 233KVA line from Chisumbanje to Chiredzi as the existing 33KVA line is too small to carry the 18MW load. The power from the Chisumbanje ethanol plant is more than the output of Harare Thermal Power Station due to infrastructure problems.

Analysts have questioned why Zesa had not moved quickly to establish the requisite infrastructure for transmitting the power onto the national grid.

Appearing before a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Energy and Mines, Energy and Power Development Permanent Secretary Mr Justin Mupamhanga said Zesa wanted GreenFuel to build the infrastructure.

"Zesa indicated the company (GreenFuel) were supposed to put up the infrastructure," said Mr Mupamhanga, in response to a question from the committee.

Zesa is hard up for financial resources as it is currently saddled with a US$515 million debt, while its customers owe the company US$480 million.

A GreenFuel spokesperson said there was still need for an agreement with Zesa regarding the price at which they would buy the power.

"Zesa have to enter an agreement on the price at which they want to buy the electricity," he said. "Also, there is the issue of infrastructure."

Government is working on expanding the constrained production capacity at Hwange Thermal Power Station as well as at Kariba Hydropower Station.

The combined output from expansion of the two power plants would add about 900MW onto the national grid. Eleven companies have been shortlisted by the State Procurement Board to undertake the expansion.

Government has also issued licences to independent power producers, but the most promising is Sengwa thermal power project in Gokwe North.

Plans are underway to get the Batoka hydropower project off the ground.

source: allafrica

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