Cahora Bassa refurbishment means more power to the region

SANF 08 No 48
Mozambique’s Hidroeléctrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB), the company running the Cahora Bassa dam, has finished refurbishing the power station, which will enable it to increase the electricity output it sells to the regional countries.

Much of Cahora Bassa’s power generating capacity of 2,075 megawatts (MW) is sold to South Africa.

The refurbishment cost HCB US$60 million, and under a new five-year agreement Cahora Bassa will export a further 250 MW to South Africa, bringing the total amount to 1,500 MW.

HCB will also supply an additional 50 MW to Electricidade de Moçambique (EDM) from the fifth giant turbine at the dam. EDM receives 400 MW from HCB.

There are five giant turbines at Cahora Bassa each capable of generating 415 MW.

Like other countries in the region, South Africa has been grappling with power shortages, which caused severe blackouts early in the year, forcing mines to suspend operations for various days over safety concerns.

The move is likely to ease South Africa’s power shortages and enable it to free more power to its neighbours that had been cut earlier on in the year.

HCB power is supplied to the region over a network extending through Zimbabwe and Botswana to the South African power grid.

Cahora Bassa’s power is also sold to Botswana (40 MW), Zimbabwe (200 MW), which leaves 80 MW for other customers such as Malawi and Zambia. Tanzania, which is currently importing electricity from Zambia, has also expressed an interest in buying power from Cahora Bassa.

The South African utility company, Eskom, is also negotiating with the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) for the refurbishment of three power stations with a combined generation capacity of 500 MW.

Mozambique is also currently seeking funding for the building of a new dam on the Zambezi River 60 km downstream from Cahora Bassa, which Eskom has agreed to fund.