The construction of a 5MW mini hydropower plant at Lake Mutirikwi Dam in Masvingo, Zimbabwe, is reportedly nearing completion as the $14,5 million power station readies for commissioning at the end of April 2024.
According to Great Zimbabwe Power Company, the organisation in charge of implementing the project, construction of the run-of-river project is 75% complete.
After beginning construction in March 2022, the hydropower project was meant to be commissioned in November 2023. However, the construction was rescheduled due to the unprecedented demand for irrigation water in the cane plantations in the Lowveld.
Regardless, construction of a 24km powerline from the power station to the Kyle sub-station was ongoing.
This prompted the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) to release water downstream of Lake Mutirikwi and in the process, caused delays in construction. The delay was further exacerbated by heavy rains over the past two months.
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This clean energy project is one of the many flagship ventures that have pivoted Masvingo towards self-sustainability in clean energy.
The project created work for more than 150 unskilled workers from the surrounding communities of Murinye and Chikwanda, which have welcomed the project’s roll-out for its employment benefits.
The penstock will channel water from the dam to the powerhouse, powering the turbines to generate electricity.
Hubert Chipumbu, the project coordinator, explained: “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.”
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The mini-station is one of several planned for the larger irrigation dams, able to use the release of irrigation water to drive the turbines and raise the power required to run the pumps and other irrigation equipment.
The government of Zimbabwe has announced plans to have a second 5MW plant further downstream, taking the power output along the Mutirikwi River to 10MW.
Feasibility studies for a bigger hydropower plant at Tugwi-Mukosi in southern Chivi that will generate 17MW have also been completed.
Great Zimbabwe Hydro Power Company is developing the 5MW power project, working closely with a foreign partner, Frontier Energy of Denmark, and local investors, principally Old Mutual Life Assurance Company.
Source: All Africa