By Mhlomuli Ncube and John Nhandara
THE Hwange Unit 7 and 8 Expansion Project is a massive investment that testifies to the country’s commitment to not only addressing power shortages, but to also be self-reliant in energy requirements.
As COP27 is underway in Egypt, the future of thermal power stations is under the spotlight, particularly the need for a just transition from fossil energy to green energy.
It’s almost like one giant leap for a nation.
Under the US$1,4 billion project, the expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station will give the country an added 600 megawatts to its national grid.
The project carries with it huge benefits not only in terms of power generation, but also other areas like water supply through the Deka Pipeline Waterworks which is drawing water from the Zambezi, construction of new suburbs to house staff and creation of thousands of more than 6 000 direct and indirect jobs.
Its spill over has gone beyond Hwange all the way to Bulawayo where a 350-kilometre transmission line has been built in addition to new substations.
In the current phase, Unit 7 is ready for commissioning by the end of November and the optimism tied with the magnitude of the project speaks of a nation that is defining its own path towards a vision of economic growth and self-sustenance.
Too many systems that make up the whole Unit have been put in place to send the message that it is not just a national project, but one built to benefit generations.
“Over the past few months, we have been doing commissioning of various sub-systems that make up the power plant or that make up the unit. We have commissioned systems such as the water treatment plant, systems such the auxiliary boiler which provides steam required for us to be to run the unit or the turbine, we have also run the cooling tower, with the water coming from the cooling tower that is a very positive development in as far as the commissioning of Unit 7 is concerned,” said Engineer Forbes Chanakira, project manager.
Beyond dreams that a nation has seen come to fruition, the drive is to oil industry, power homes and even sell excess power to other nations in the region.
For analysts, the massive investment put in the 600 megawatt project in Hwange is not something that can be left to sink in the ocean of half-baked proposals.
At a time the developed world is pushing for all countries, to fund climate change adaptation,
including developing nations which contribute an insignificant amounts to global greenhouse emissions, analysts say the proposal should come with a proper and more beneficial transitional plan in the form of funding for alternative power sources in developing countries.
Political analyst Gibson Nyikadzino said, “Great powers are not using morality, but serving interest affecting nations of the south. For example, after agreeing to cut energy emission, we have seen Germany resorting to coal because there is an energy crisis in Europe. In Zimbabwe, we have coal deposits that can last for about 30 years and in terms of these conventions that are being framed and narrated by global powers, they are disadvantaging nations of the South and Zimbabwe is not an exception.”
International relations expert, Dr Augustine Tirivangani states that sovereign nations must make decisions that suit them and reject the blanket approach being pursued by the West.
“Majority of global agendas are not set by Africans. They are not set by developing countries. They are largely set by developed countries. When developed countries feel it is to their advantage to ban coal they will come with conventions to buy coal,” he said.
While there is agreement on the need to cut on greenhouse gases globally, it is the transitional path that has remained a sticking issue with most of the developed countries failing to honour their pledge to fund climate effects mitigation in developing countries.