Zimbabwe faces outages as Lake Kariba levels force halt to hydropower
Electricity providers in Zimbabwe have been forced to stop generating hydropower at the Kariba South power station due to the ongoing low water levels affecting the Kariba Dam at Lake Kariba.
The site supports power for both Zimbabwe and Zambia, with the Zambezi River Authority governing the use of resources outlined in the Water Sharing Agreement that ensures access to both nations. The authority, however, noted this week that Zimbabwe was now 6% over its 2022 water allocation while usable water levels on the Kariba Reservoir had fallen to just 4.6% of normal storage capacity.
“Zimbabwe Power Company/Kariba Hydro Power Company no longer has any usable water to continue undertaking power generation operations,” the authority said. They added that rainfall patterns suggest little to no chance of recovery into the first quarter of 2023, so use by the Zimbabwe providers is suspended until January.
As of Wednesday, the Kariba Reservoir level had further fallen to 4.12%, according to authority data. The South Bank facilities produce 1,050 megawatts per day, or about 70% of Zimbabwe’s electricity.
The conditions have sparked concern over load shedding and power outages in Zimbabwe, with some accounts of rolling blackouts that last 12 hours per day. Zambia also is affected by the regional rainfall deficit.
Zimbabwe imports power from national utility provider Eskom in South Africa but Eskom’s own challenges mean that it can’t make up the loss without facing grid collapse. Sikonathi Mantshantsha of Eskom said South Africa currently has a production shortfall of 22,000 megawatts in meeting demand at home.
Image: Zambezi River Authority file