Malawi and Zimbabwe set for expanded hydropower generation capacity

21 Feb 2024
Malawi and Zimbabwe set for expanded hydropower generation capacity

Malawi’s national utility, Electricity Generation Company Limited (EGENCO) last month invited bids from EPC (Engineering, Procurement, Construction) companies for the extension of the Wovwe Hydropower Station located along the Wovwe River in the country’s Karonga District. 

The current plant is a 4.36MW plant that commenced commercial operations in 1996. Following feasibility studies in 2017, EGENCO decided to extend the generation capacity of the hydropower plant by 4.5MW. When completed, the hydro plant will meet about half of the estimated 20MW demand of the entire Northern Region. 

The project includes the construction of a Run-of-River hydro station with a storage dam of approximately 100,000 m³, supply, install and commission switchyard equipment and connect the new plant to the existing 66 kV transmission line. The successful EPC contractor will design, manufacture, supply, construct, install and commission the turbines and perform all other associated works. 

According to Power Africa Factsheet, Malawi has an installed generation capacity of 532MW of which about 70% is from hydro sources. However, electricity access remains poor as only 15 per cent of the country is connected. Malawi has increasingly adopted clean energy as a solution to its energy access challenges. In 2023, the country connected its first utility-scale solar power plants, the 20MW Golomoti Solar plus 100MWh battery storage plant, and the 21 MW Nkhotakota Solar Power Station. 

Zimbabwe: Lake Mutirikwi hydropower project nears completion
According to Zimbabwean publication, The Herald, Great Zimbabwe Hydro Power Company says it is nearing completion of the construction of the mini-hydro power plant at Lake Mutirikwi Dam in Masvingo, about 300km south of Harare. The plant is adjacent to the Lake Mutirikwi dam and will be connected to the national grid when completed.

The project is being financed by Danish renewable energy investment company, Frontier Energy and locally by Old Mutual Life Assurance Company.  According to the company, it has supported the development, construction and operations of over 60 clean energy projects on the continent with a cumulative capacity of over 1.1GW and total project costs of over US$2.5 billion.

The construction of the US$14.5 million 5MW run-of-river hydro project began in March 2022 and was expected to be completed in November  2023. However, water use from the dam and heavy rainfall delayed construction works on the project. 

The commissioning of the plant has now been set for April as Great Zimbabwe Hydro Power Company puts the construction at 75 per cent complete. 

The company plans to install the electro-mechanical equipment including the turbines and alternators in the powerhouse as well as complete works on the penstock— the water transport channel from the reservoir to the turbine. The construction of a 24km powerline from the plant to the Kyle sub-station is also ongoing. 
The Government plans to develop a second 5MW plant further downstream to expand the power output along Mutirikwi River to 10MW.

Image Source: EGENCO


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