By OLIVER SAMBOKO
ZAMBIA risks drifting back into electricity load shedding following Zesco’s utilisation of its 83 percent of the 21 billion cubic metres water allocation at the Kariba Dam, the Daily Nation has learnt.
Kariba North Power Station Bank (KNBPS) is the biggest power station contributing 1, 080 megawatts to the national grid when operating at full capacity.
And giving an update on the water situation at Kariba Dam, Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) Chief Executive Officer, Munyaradzi Munodawafa disclosed that the lake is now at 481.55m from 482.16m recorded on August 4, 2021.
Mr Munodawafa said water levels at the country’s biggest hydroelectricity power generation scheme, the Kariba Dam has steadily continued receding, losing 0.61m in one month alone.
He also disclosed that as at August 31, 2021, Zesco Limited had utilised 17.35 billion cubic metres (BCM) of its 21 BCM water allocation (83 percent utilisation), while the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) had only utilised 15.72 billion cubic meters of its water allocation.
Mr Munodawafa said this leaves a balance of 3.65 BCM and 5.28 BCM for Zesco and ZPC, respectively for utilisation during the remaining period of the year.
He also said currently, the lake level is 6.05 meters above the Minimum Operating Level (MOL) of 475.50m, translating to 28.16 BCM or 43.45 percent of live storage for power generation.
Last year on the same date, the Lake level was lower at 480.48m with 22.94 BCM or 35.4 percent of usable storage, with the water being only 4.98m above the minimum operating level.
Mr Munodawafa also disclosed that the ZRA has maintained the 42 BCM combined water allocation for power generation operations at Kariba for 2021 after it was revised upward from 30 BCM on June 25, 2021.
He said this decision is as a result of the second quarter review of the hydrological outlook at Kariba that considered the normal to above normal rainfall performance and associated increased inflows into Lake Kariba.
Mr Munodawafa said the ZRA is scheduled to undertake the next quarterly hydrological review at the end of September 2021, and this may result in either maintaining, increasing, or reducing the volume of water allocated for power generation operations at Kariba for the year 2021.