Zambia’s largest coal-fired thermal power plant, owned by coal mining company Maamba Collieries Limited (MCL) and located in the Sinazongwe district, in the Southern province, last month celebrated five years since its commissioning and start of supply to the national grid.
Commissioned by then President Edgar Lungu on August 7, 2016 – the 300 MW plant is MCL Zambia’s largest independent power producer, accounting for about 10% of the country’s installed capacity at the time.
The privatisation of Maamba Collieries saw diversified multiproduct company Nava Bharat Singapore, along with its co-sponsor Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings and other project lenders, infuse an investment of $919-million, leading to the revival of the country’s largest coal mine and construction of the high-tech power plant.
The plant comprises two environment-friendly 150 MW generators, a 48 km 330 kV double-circuit transmission line and raw water pump house with a 21-km-long pipeline from Lake Kariba.
Its twin generators are designed to use thermal-grade coal as fuel, which, before the firm’s privatisation in 2010, was stockpiled in waste heaps and left to self-combust, polluting Maamba town and the surrounding environment.
The company notes that the consumption of thermal-grade coal by the thermal power plant has played a huge role in controlling the pollution of both the air and the waters, restoring the valley town’s picturesque natural landscape, and recovering land for its reforestation programme under the Green Maamba campaign.
Not only is the power plant instrumental in restoring Maamba’s environment, it also serves as a leading driver in the country’s energy diversification drive, to reduce reliance on hydro-based power plants, as envisaged in the seventh National Development Plan. Importantly, it also contributes significantly to the nation’s energy security.
Zambia’s Vision 2030 feeds into the provisions outlined in ‘Agenda 2063’, the Africa Union’s (AU’s) vision for accelerated economic and industrial development, which was established by the Heads of State and governments of the AU in 2015.
The International Energy Agency notes that for these visions to be attained, urbanisation and accelerated economic growth must be accompanied with stable electricity supply to fuel growing industries.Meanwhile,
domestic sales of MCL’s coal to cement producers, cooking oil and animal feed producers, steel, lime, and tobacco manufacturers as well as to some breweries, helps keep the “wheels of the nation’s industry turning”.
Notably, with additional investment, Maamba Collieries, with its Zambia Environmental Management Agency- and World Bank-approved ecofriendly technology, has the potential to double its 300 MW output and help Zambia take a step closer towards sustainable energy security, thereby contributing to Zambia’s aim of being an electricity hub for the region.