The Kariba South Hydroelectric Power Station supplies Zimbabwe with about 70 percent of its electricity.
Electricity shortages that have plagued Zimbabwe are set to get worse after an authority that manages the country’s largest dam said water levels are now too low for power generation to continue.
The Zambezi River Authority, which manages the Kariba Dam jointly owned by Zimbabwe and neighboring Zambia, said in a letter dated Nov. 25 that water levels at the largest supplier of hydropower are at a record low and electricity generation must stop.
The letter, seen by news agencies and widely reported in the local media, said the Kariba South hydroelectric plant had used more water than it had been allocated in 2022 and the Kariba dam’s usable storage was only 4.6 percent full.
The Kariba South hydroelectric power station supplies Zimbabwe with about 70 percent of its electricity and has been producing significantly less than its 1,050 megawatt capacity in recent years due to receding water levels due to drought.
The Kariba power station has generated 572 megawatts of the 782 megawatts of electricity produced in the country, according to the website of the state-run energy company Zimbabwe Power Company.
The dam “has run out of usable water to continue generating power,” the authority’s Chief Executive Officer Munyaradzi Munodawafa said in the letter to the Zimbabwe Power Company.
The authority “has no choice” but to “completely suspend” power generation operations pending a review in January, when water levels are expected to have improved, Munodawafa added.
The authority has reported low water levels at Kariba Dam in recent years leading up to the rainy season, but not enough to halt these activities.
Coal plants that also provide some electricity are unreliable due to aging infrastructure that is constantly breaking down, while the country’s solar potential has not yet fully developed to meaningfully increase supply. Households and industries have been without electricity for hours and sometimes days due to shortages in recent months.
The state-run newspaper Herald reported on Monday that continued expansion of a major coal-fired power station, Hwange, could help fill shortfalls exacerbated by the closure of the Kariba plant if it goes live by the end of the year. goes as planned.