• Lake Kariba water level has been decreasing steadily on account of low inflows from the mainstream Zambezi River.
• Kariba Lake is designed to operate between 475.50m and 488.50m of water above sea level for purposes of hydropower generation.
• As of 28th November 2022, the Kariba lake water levels stood at 476.09m above sea level.
Minister of Energy says ZESCO is expected to implement a load management regime of up to 6 hours daily from15th December, 2022, following the decrease in water levels at Lake Kariba.
Giving a ministerial statement in Parliament, Peter Kapala says the load management regime is aimed at rationing power generation at the Kariba Complex to avoid a complete shutdown.
Mr. Kapala noted that during the year 2022, Lake Kariba water level has been decreasing steadily on account of low inflows from the mainstream Zambezi River and its tributaries and the situation has been worsened due to the overutilization of water for sustained power generation.
“The Kariba Lake is designed to operate between 475.50m and 488.50m of water above sea level (asl) for purposes of hydropower generation. The water allocation is done considering the need to sustain reservoir operations at Kariba.”
“As of 28th November 2022, the Kariba lake water levels stood at 476.09m above sea level, representing only 4.12% of usable water storage for power generation. It is projected that if the current power generation and subsequent water utilization continues, the remaining water for power generation at the Kariba complex, also referred to as live storage, will not be sufficient for power generation beyond mid-December 2022,” Mr. Kapala stated.
He added that the low water level situation in the lake Kariba threatens the power generation for both Kariba North Bank Hydropower station on the Zambian side and Kariba South Bank Hydropower station on the Zimbabwean side.
“ZESCO will optimize generation at all its hydro power stations in Zambia (Kariba North Bank, Victoria Falls, Small Hydros, Kafue Gorge and Kafue Gorge Lower power stations). It is expected that this will complement the generation from the Kariba Complex to Mid-January 2023 when the water inflows are expected to start improving in the Kariba reservoir. The Government will fast track the development of generation projects in order to increase the robustness of the energy sector to adverse impacts of climate change.”
“We shall also tap from existing generation which is operated by private players with the view to optimize power dispatch to mitigate the impact of the reduced generation from the Kariba Complex. Additionally, should the situation warrant it, consideration shall be made to import power from the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) when available,” he added.
Recently, Zambezi River Authority directed Zimbabwe Power Company to immediately ensure that Power generation activities at the South Bank Power Station are reduced to a maximum of 300 Megawatts instead of 600 Megawatts, while ZESCO will reduce generation at Kariba North Bank Power Station to a maximum of 800 Megawatts, until further review of the substantive Hydrological outlook at lake Kariba will be undertaken.