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Oct 07, 2011

Work on 247 MW Zambian hydropower project could begin late 2012

Kalungwishi river hydropower project. Camerawork: Nicholas Boyd. Editing: Darlene Creamer.
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Major permits for a 247 MW hydropower project on the Kalungwishi river, in Zambia, are expected to be in place by February next year, reports owner Lunzua Power Authority (LPA).

The environmental-impact assessment and Environmental Council of Zambia approvals are expected by July 2012, while the power purchase agreement should be finalised by August next year, says LPA CEO Elisha Tsindikidzo.

Actual construction of the $600-million hydropower project is scheduled for the end of 2012, with commissioning and operation expected by the end of 2016.

Consulting firm Knight Piésold power services manager Sam Mottram says three major waterfalls, namely Lumangwe (91 MW), Kabwelume (96 MW) and Kundabwika (151 MW), have been identified on the Kagera river, which has a catchment area of 10 000 km2. Only Kabwelume and Kundabwika have been included in the project. Lumangwe is a National Heritage Site, but there are future plans to develop the resource.

To distribute the power generated, 330 kV transmission lines running from Kalungwishi to Kasama and Pensulo are planned, while 66 kV transmission lines are planned to interconnect to Kawambwa.

Negotiations with State-owned power utility Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (Zesco) on the interconnection are under way, with inspections of the interconnecting substa- tions defining the interconnection requirements.

The hydrology studies and energy model for the project are complete and include projected installed capacities and optimised layouts, resulting in increased capacities and energy generation potential, improved constructability and economic viability.

Improved design concepts have been realised and will improve diversion concepts, reduce construction and geotechnical risks and capital costs, as well as ensure the use of local expertise and materials.

The design basis report is also complete and includes design criteria and specifications; the minimum technical requirements; Zesco technical requirements; a geotechnical and climate overview; a detailed hydrological assessment; dam, intake, canal, penstock and
powerhouse designs and general arrangement drawings; as well as plans for transmission lines, sub- stations, access roads, camps and laydown areas.

Zambia has an installed capacity of 1 850 MW, of which 1 700 MW is hydropower. The country has the potential to produce a further 6 000 MW as a result of hydropower projects.

“Zambia is a net exporter of power and hopes to increase its exports. “
New transmission interties are expected with Tanzania and Southern Africa Power Pool countries,” says Tsindikidzo.

Meanwhile, the government of Zambia is promoting competition in the power sector through its Office for Promoting Private Power Investment, ensuring that Zesco no longer monopolises the market.

Current private-sector players also include Copperbelt Energy Corporation and the Lunsemfwa Hydro Power company.

Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
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