HARARE, Dec 22– The Zimbabwe government says it is expecting to secure funding for the Hwange Thermal Power Station expansion project early next year, to pave way for extension of the power plant.

Chinese firm Sino Hydro won the tender to add two units at Hwange Thermal Power Station which would have a combined generation capacity of 600 megawatts (MW).

Energy and Power Development Ministry Permanent Secretary Patson Mbiriri said here over the weekend that construction work should begin soon after securing financial closure. “We are working on financial closure, hopefully in the first half of next year we will have financial closure and work can start soon thereafter,” he said.

Presently, Hwange is producing about 650 MW from an installed capacity of 920 MW, said Mbiriri.
imbabwe is currently facing power shortages as national power demand at peak periods is estimated at 2,200 MW and the present generation capacity of the country is far outstripped by demand resulting in the shortfall being imported from power utilities of regional countries.

The government, through the Zimbabwe Power Company, has embarked on several projects to bridge the power deficit such as expanding existing power stations and building new ones.

In addition to the Hwange expansion project, the government, in partnership with Sino Hydro, is also constructing the 533 million US dollars Kariba South Power Station expansion project, to be undertaken over the next three years.

The Kariba expansion project will expand the country’s second largest power station by an additional two units which will add a combined 300 MW to the national grid.

Zimbabwe is also working with the Zambian government to build the Batoka Gorge Power Station on the Zambezi River separating the two countries and which is expected to generate 1,600 MW of electricity to be shared equally by the two countries when completed.

In addition to government efforts, several Independent Power Producers (IPPs) have been licensed to undertake projects which are currently at different stages of implementation.