The Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) says it is optimistic that its Kapichira Hydro Power Station’s Units 1 and 2, which experienced an emergency outage, will be fully functional by the end of this week.
Egenco spokesperson Moses Gwaza said in an interview on Tuesday in response to Nation Online question on the status of the two units.
He said one of the machines started operating on Monday this week while the other is expected to start working today.
Said Gwaza: “We have been working on the machines. We are now doing the commissioning. The first machine started to work yesterday and the other machine is expected to start working tomorrow [today].
“By the end of this week, all machines are expected to be back to normal. After these machines are fully functional, generation is expected to return to normal.”
The electricity generation company on October 2 issued a statement indicating that the two units, with a capacity of 64.8 megawatts (MW), would be available by October 12 and that generation would be normalised.
Following the outage of the two units, the country has been facing extended load shedding hours of up to six hours a day.
However, Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito in a separate interview expressed discomfort over the resurfacing of the blackouts, describing them as a hindrance to the country’s economy.
Said Kapito: “I am very surprised to hear that the same power plant [they said was functional] a week ago is down. But now to be told again that it is down is very unfortunate. This is costly to the economy.”
According to Egenco’s earlier statement, Kapichira I Hydro Power Station was commissioned in 2000 and performance went down in the previous five years due to obsolete and worn out excitation systems.
The statement indicated that beginning 2017, Egenco started the procurement of a new excitation system for both units which was delivered by the manufacturer in September 2019.
“We could not do these works any earlier as at the same time we had Tedzani III Unit 5 and 6 out on rehabilitation, uprating and modernisation which has seen the station being uprated with 10 MW.
“We, therefore, had planned to have these works in November 2019 after completion of Tedzani III works as we could not take both stations due to inadequate generation capacity,” reads the statement in part.
The statement further indicated that due to frequent failure of the two machine systems, they decided to replace the excitation systems immediately.
During the launch of the 55MW capacity diesel generators to boost supply at the height of load shedding which hit a record 25 hours a day in January 2018, President Peter Mutharika said government planned to increase power generation.
“Within five years, we will be able to generate over 1 400 MW of coal-fired, about 700 MW of hydro-power and 70 MW of solar energy.
“We will do that in the next two to three years,” said Mutharika.
The President then, also said by this year, his administration was determined to add an extra 300MW of electricity to the national grid, more than the 351MW the country has had in the past 53 years.
In the 2017 Malawi Business Climate Survey, Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) highlighted electricity as the most problematic sector.
The country continues to face power supply challenges from the national grid despite several independent power producers (IPPs) being licensed.
Most of the IPPs are yet to roll out. Some of them including one each in Dedza and Salima, were expected to take off by August this year but are yet to add their power to the grid.