HONE SIAME, Lusaka
WITH hydro power contributing more than 95 percent of electricity generated in Zambia, Government has embarked on a programme to diversify the energy sector by establishing the first-ever 400 megawatt gas-powered plant in Chinsali district, Muchinga Province, at a cost of US$900 million.
Minister of Development Planning Lucky Mulusa said the establishment of the plant is one of the measures Government has put in place to increase the country’s power generation capacity.
Mr Mulusa said in the newly-launched Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) that Zambia cannot afford to continue relying on hydro power in view of climatic change.
He said there is need for Zambia to diversify its electricity generation mix to include coal, combined cycle gas thermal, and nuclear energy.
Mr Mulusa said the multimillion -dollar power project aimed at cushioning the power deficit the country has continued grappling with, will be executed under the Tanzania-Zambia Mafuta (TAZAMA) Pipeline Limited.
He said with the discovery of huge reserves of gas off the coast of Tanzania and Mozambique, supply of gas to Zambia is guaranteed, and that Government will ensure the combined cycle gas-fired power plant is set up.
“In recent years, the supply of electricity has been hampered by relying on an undiversified source of electricity generation. Effects of low water levels in water bodies have been cited as among the causes of the reduction in generation of electricity.
“The power generation plant to be located in Chinsali will be supplied with gas from the port of Dar es Salaam via a 36-inch pipeline.The pipeline will be laid alongside the crude oil pipeline in the existing TAZAMA wayleave, with an estimated length of 1,100 km,” Mr Mulusa said.
He said if Tanzania and Mozambique fail to meet the demand for the supply of gas to Zambia, Government will source it from international suppliers, especially the Middle East.
“The Middle East can supply the required gas through the Port of Dar es Salaam,” Mr Mulusa said.
He said the plant will have space for expansion from 400 megawatts to 1,200 megawatts to ensure the growing demand for power, due to increased industrial activities, is met.
Mr Mulusa said Government will also pursue nuclear technology as part of a diversified sustainable energy mix to power Zambia’s economy, in line with President Lungu’s directive.