Minister Matola and EGENCO management after touring inside Tedzani IV
* The maintenance works for Tedzani IV were necessitated as effects of Tropical Cyclone Ana
* Rock boulders went into its water exit channel (tailrace)
* The works coincided with a one-year anniversary of the machine’s commissioning
* It enabled project consultants to carry out contractual machine inspection and warranty repairs
By Duncan Mlanjira
Minister of Energy, Ibrahim Matola has commended Electricity Generation Company (EGENCO) engineers and its consultants for beating the deadline of 5 days of maintenance of Tedzani IV, whose works involved switching off its 19.1 megawatts from the national power grid.
Matola said this when he toured Tedzani and Nkula Hydro Power Stations on Friday, where he was appraised of the power generation process of the new Tedzani IV and the reinforcement plans for other plants such as Tedzani III and Nkula B.
The maintenance works for Tedzani IV were necessitated as effects of Tropical Cyclone Ana, that destroyed Kapichira Hydro Power Station infrastructure in January also affected a machine at Tedzani IV when rock boulders went into its water exit channel (tailrace).
EGENCO alerted the public of the shutdown for five days from Monday till 17:00hrs of Friday, April 29, but by mid Thursday, operations were restored to normal.
The works coincided with a one-year anniversary of the machine’s commissioning and enabled the Tedzani IV project consultants (TEPSCO) and contractors carry out contractual machine inspection and warranty repairs during the same period.
Taking cognizance that the shutdown of Kapichira led to the loss of 130 megawatts it generates, EGENCO minimized the impact of Tedzani IV outage by using its diesel generators to supplement the available hydropower station in order not to inconvenience the public.
EGENCO also went ahead to shut down Tedzani IV after recommission one machine at Tedzani II, which was undergoing rehabilitation works since December 2021 and brought back 10MW.
Thus, the Minister applauded EGENCO for their swift maintenance process, saying all is being done to restore Kachipira Hydro Power Station to restore the 130MW — which is 32% of the national grid — that led to massive load shedding which is crippling a lot of businesses.
Matola reiterated that the government already factored in its national budget the cost of repairing the extensive damage of Kapichira Dam but meanwhile, the additional 10MW of Tedzani II should reduce ESCOM’s schedule of load shedding, which at times stretches up to 8 hours a day.
He also said while the attention is on the extensive damage of Kapichira Dam, it should also be noted that all the other hydro stations of Tedzani and Nkula were also affected by Cyclone Ana as well as the second storm of Gombe.
“But EGENCO engineers and management are doing all their best to restore all the challenges these two Cyclones caused,” he said.
EGENCO Chief Executive Officer William Liabunya said a contractor shall be identified to commence Kapichira Dam restoration works by end of May, saying all procurement process are complete.
He said having lost the 130MW from Kapichira, they now are generating 225 to 230MW and at the same time being complemented by power generators spread across country as well as solar power.
Meanwhile, President Chakwera visited Mozambique last week for the continuation bilateral process of the power interconnection agreement between the two countries, which was commissioned last year.
The construction works for the Mozambique-Malawi power transmission interconnection project, from which Malawi is expected to be supplied with 50MW of electricity supply, was commissioned at Phombeya in Balaka District by President Chakwera and his counterpart Filipe Jacinto Nyusi.
The 50MW of electricity supply is for the initial stage with some future potential to increase as the country’s Integrated Resource Plan of 2017 indicates that peak electricity demand will be 1,860MW by 2030 yet currently Malawi’s installed electricity generation capacity is hovering at 50MW.
A fortnight ago, ESCOM officially commissioned a 3.4 megawatts (MW) Muloza Hydro Power Station — that is privately owned by Cedar Energy — and is set to cater for over 2,800 rural households in Phalombe, Mulanje and Thyolo.
The plant is situated at Sukasanje along the road from Phalombe to Muloza in Mulanje. This is government’s initiative to engage private investors to produce power for ESCOM in order to complement services by EGENCO — under independent power producers (IPP).
The goal is to attain 1,000MW of electricity energy by 2025 as recently pledged by Chakwera and other efforts are through solar energy which the President commissioned its plant construction in November in Salima, that is expected to add 20MW to the national grid.
At the commissioning of Muloza Hydro Power Station, ESCOM Chief Executive Officer, Kamkwamba Kumwenda said they are receiving less power than required due to non-availability of adequate electricity generation power producers in the country, thus their effort to engage independent power producers.
“With limited generation capacity, the country is currently experiencing extensive load shedding due to the impact of Cyclone Anna which resulted in the loss of 130MW from Kapichira Power Station,” he had said.
He assured that the figure of 3.4MW “might seem small to others, but as ESCOM, we can assure you that this will have a significant positive impact in reduced shedding program” as well as “increase power supply and greatly improve quality of supply to not only in Muloza but also to estates, businesses, and residential premises to tea growing and manufacturing districts of Thyolo, Mulanje and Phalombe”.
The project is using Muloza River from Mulanje Mountain by diverting water by gravity through a pipeline that passes into the generation machines and back into the river.