ESCOM commissions 3.4MW privately-owned Muloza Hydro Power Station

Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) has officially commissioned a 3.4 megawatts (MW) Muloza Hydro Power Station — that is privately owned by Cedar Energy — and is set to cater for over 2,800 rural households in Phalombe, Mulanje and Thyolo.

Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola graced the signing ceremony of the Transmission Connection Agreement at Sukasanje situated along the road from Phalombe to Muloza in Mulanje.

The Minister said engaging private investors to produce power for ESCOM in order to complement services by Electricity Generation Company (EGENCO)  — under independent power producers (IPP) — is part of government’s goal to attain 1,000MW of electricity energy by 2025 as recently pledged by President Lazarus Chakwera.

Cutting the ribbon to symbolize the commissioning

Other efforts are through solar energy which Chakwera commissioned its plant construction in November in Salima, that is expected to add 20MW to the national grid.

In his remarks, ESCOM Chief Executive Officer, Kamkwamba Kumwenda said ESCOM is receiving less power than required due to non-availability of adequate electricity generation power producers in the country, thus their effort to engage independent power producers.

“With limited generation capacity, the country is currently experiencing extensive load shedding due to the impact of Cyclone Anna which resulted in the loss of 130MW from Kapichira Power Station,” he said.

He assured that the figure of 3.4MW “might seem small to others, but as ESCOM, we can assure you that this will have a significant positive impact in reduced shedding program”.

Switching onto the ESCOM grid

“The coming of CEDAR Energy will increase power supply and greatly improve quality of supply to not only in Muloza but also to estates, businesses, and residential premises to tea growing and manufacturing districts of Thyolo, Mulanje and Phalombe.

“We wish to assure you that ESCOM is making every effort in ensuring that its operations are well aligned with the vision of His Excellency the State President towards MW2063 agenda.”

He applauded CEDAR Energy for its “pragmatic approach to reach this far” despite the challenges caused by CoVID-19 at the outset of the project in 2020 through procurement of equipment from Europe, China and other countries.

“We have been working closely with CEDAR Energy Ltd to ensure that their investment plans should become a reality [and] it is our full commitment that we shall continue to do so with any other upcoming independent power producers and our team of technical experts are well equipped and ready on the ground to provide any service required.”

Kamkwamba and Cedar Energy technical director William Stein signing the agreement

Matola was given the honour to officially switch on power onto the ESCOM grid after he was accorded a tour of the massive project, which is using Muloza River from Mulanje Mountain by diverting water by gravity through a pipeline that passes into the generation machines and back into the river.

He stressed that the country should not be relying on the hydro generation plants of Nkula, Tedzani and Kapichira on the Shire River but other rivers as provided by Cedar Energy taking advantage of the gravity fed waters of Muloza River.

Last year, EGENCO signed a construction contract with Chinese electrical company, CHINT Group, which will be in two phases of 10 megawatts each back to back but the whole project is planned to have a scalable 50MW for the grid.

The other 30MW shall be done after completion of the two phases, whose concept was rolled out in 2017 as soon as the company was formed to be generating power for ESCOM.

EGENCO also have a coal powered project being considered through a feasibility study being carried out at Kammwamba in Balaka District by a German consultant.

Also last year, President Chakwera and his counterpart from Mozambique, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi launched the construction works for the two countries’ power transmission interconnection project at Phombeya in Balaka District.

Malawi is expected to be supplied with 50MW of electricity supply at initial stage with some future potential to increase as the country’s Integrated Resource Plan of 2017 indicates that peak electricity demand will be 1,860MW by 2030 yet currently Malawi’s installed electricity generation capacity is hovering at 50MW.

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