Prolonged 14-hour load shedding scheduled for Saturday and Sunday; EGENCO to carry out maintenance works on Nkula A and B

Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) has alerted the public to brace for a prolonged load shedding of maximum 14 hours scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, July 30-31 as Electricity Generation Company (EGENCO) is expected to carry out emergency maintenance works on Nkula A and Nkula B Power Stations.

A statement from ESCOM says EGENCO will first shut down Nkula B on Saturday thereby reducing power supply by 100 megawatts (MW) off the national grid and losing 135MW the following day when both Nkula B and Nkula A would be shut down.

Only 176MW will be available on Saturday and 140MW on Sunday which ESCOM would use to supply only essential services such as referral hospitals and water pumping stations, among others.

Kamkwamba Kumwenda – ESCOM CEO

However, the public is advised to switch off all electrical appliances during the time of the outage as power supply may be restored earlier than the stated times on the revised load shedding schedule.

Last April, EGENCO also shut down 19.1MW at Tedzani IV for 5 days to allow engineers to carry out maintenance — necessitated due to effects of Tropical Cyclone Ana when rock boulders went into its water exit channel (tailrace).

The works also coincided with a one-year anniversary of the machine’s commissioning and enabled the Tedzani IV project consultants (TEPSCO) and contractors carry out contractual machine inspection and warranty repairs during the same period.

Currently, efforts to restore loss of 130 megawatts at Kapichira Power Station, whose infrastructure was destroyed by Tropical Cyclone Ana, are underway.

Due to loss of power generation from Kapichira — which is 32% of the national grid — there have been massive load shedding schedules since January, which sometimes take over 8 hours before being restored for some areas.

When President Lazarus Chakwera inaugurated Golomoti Solar Power Plant in Dedza District, he announced that government had secured a US$6 million loan from World Bank for the restoration of Kapichira set to reduce load shedding in the next six months.

However, a statement released on July 14 on the progress made at Kapichira, EGENCO indicated that the restoration would be done in two phases, first being temporarily reconstruction of its cofferdam around mouth of the damaged fuse plus and redirect water to the intake for resumption of power generation.

EGENCO said “designers of the cofferdam and contractor have been identified and to cut on time, EGENCO has agreed with funders, the World Bank to use existing consultants and contractors who are already working on the World Bank-funded Shire Valley Transformation Project”.

“This will ensure that the process to start reconstruction is quickened. Extra team of designers are expected to start arriving in the country in the week beginning June 26 (yesterday) and it is estimated that it will take about two months to complete the process of design and review of the cofferdam.

“Once designs are complete, the construction works are expected to last 55 days. In a nutshell, it is expected that by end of December, power generation will resume at Kapichira.”

EGENCO said phase 2 would involve “reconstruction of dam structure with an improved design that will be resilient to the frequent floods the country is experiencing as a result of climate change and catchment area degradation”.

“This work will further involve redesigning of the whole dam structure and spillway gates system to make it more resilient,” said the statement, adding that phase 2 works would resume “immediately after resumption of power generation and is expected to take 36 months”.

“EGENCO is fully aware of the impact that the outage of Kapichira has had on Malawians and the economy in general and is doing everything possible to mitigate the impact through timely repose to requirement of the available machines in the system including running available diesel generation units.

“The company is also working with stakeholders such as ESCOM as system market operator to ensure that we operate a stable generation system although at times, with the biggest machine in the system out, it has not been possible.”

Meanwhile, the government has intensified engaging independent power producers (IPP) to stay in focus of reaching the target that Chakwera has of having 1,000MW to the national grid within the next 3 years.

The Golomoti solar plant has added 20 megawatts to the national grid, facilitated by independent producer, JCM Power and InfraCo Africa to prioritise energy production as an enabler for the industrialisation as enshrine in the MW2063.

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