Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has opened up Shire River at Kamuzu Barrage in Liwonde, Machinga to increase water flow for Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) to boost power generation.
The ministry’s Principal Secretary Grey Nyandule Phiri said in an interview yesterday that on March 17 2018 a technical committee comprising government officials, engineers and hydrologists recommended increasing the flow of water in Shire River to allow Egenco generate more power to avert the power shortage that the country has experienced lately.
He said: “The ministry regulates the Shire River for the benefit of the nation. There was a meeting on March 17 2018 where the technical committee recommended the increase in flow rate of water to increase power generation. Currently, water is flowing at 120 cubic litres per second.”
However, the PS said the ministry will be monitoring the flow of water to continue conserving it through regulation of water flow, observing that in the recent past—due to effects of climate change—flow rate in Shire River has not been normal.
The technical committee’s recommendation to increase the flow has seen Egenco increasing power generation to 200 megawatts (MW). This brings the total power generation to 275 MW, about 35MW shy of the suppressed national requirement.
On top of the hydro 200MW, Egenco is also generating 20MW from diesel powered generators while Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) is generating 55MW from generators that the power supplier hired from Aggreko.
In explaining the recent prolonged power shortages, Egenco said 95 percent of power generation in the country is still dependent on water.
Egenco senior public relations officer Moses Gwaza said in an interview that the rains that come in the Southern Region, especially Upper Shire Valley, were the ones that Egenco was using to generate electricity.
He said: “In the past few weeks we have had no rains in the Southern Region so that affected power production. We engaged the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development who control the Shire River flows to allow us increase the flow at Kamuzu Barrage.
“The approval was given on Saturday March 17, 2018 and since then we have increased production. We are now able to generate around 200 megawatts on average from the hydro power plants. In addition, we have about 20 MW from Egenco diesel generators supported by 55 megawatts from our colleagues at Escom.”
Apart from the hydro, Egenco has since stepped up its effort to increase and diversify the electricity generation with the installation of 20MW diesel generators at Mapanga in Blantyre, 10MW in Lilongwe and six MW already commissioned in Mzuzu.
The power generating company is also procuring 20MW Solar PV which is likely to be connected to the national grid as discussions with Escom were at advanced stage.
Gwaza further explained that a K5 billion dredging and dam expansion of Tedzani project was on course and the procurement of dredging machine for Kapichira was on course.
In the past two weeks, the country experienced, yet again, an increase in power outage despite President Peter Mutharika commissioning diesel powered generators to supplement the hydro generation in February 2018.