Zambia unveils first integrated plan to address electricity needs, as power deficit reaches 750MW in May


The Government has announced the completion of the first Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) aimed at providing sustainable solutions to Zambia’s electricity sub-sector challenges.

Energy Minister, Peter Kapala, highlighted that the IRP outlined a strategy to address these challenges through sustainable solutions.

Speaking at a media briefing in Lusaka on Wednesday, Kapala stated that the IRP projected a need for an additional generation capacity of 6,505 megawatts (MW) by 2026, requiring an estimated investment of US$ 5 billion.

To meet long-term demand, the IRP forecasts a total of 23,000 MW by 2050, with a corresponding investment requirement of nearly US$ 31 billion.

“ZESCO Limited, as we have seen, the utility losing revenue amounting to an estimated average of US$ 300 million from standing contracts and market trading of electricity exports,” Kapala reiterated.

Due to poor hydrology, current available average generation dictated by water availability in the reservoirs was about 900MW against an average demand of 2,400MW, resulting in a power deficit of 750MW as of May 2024.

Kapala explained that low water levels have necessitated planned load shedding and load management of 8 to 12 hours to avoid a complete shutdown of the power stations.

Read More: Manufacturers ask govt to suspend electricity exports, as load shedding persists

“My office has received numerous complaints from Industry and Commercial farmers on the scheduling and timings of the load management,” the minister said.

Recognizing the current situation, the government emphasized the need for a lasting solution to provide affordable and sustainable energy services.

Kapala highlighted measures being implemented, such as importing 188MW of power and clawing back 160MW from export contracts.

“Currently, the Ministry, ZESCO, and Ndola Energy Company Limited (NECL) are undertaking negotiations to restart the power plant by July 2024,” he said.

Kapala also announced plans to develop a 300 MW Coal Power Plant, with financial closure anticipated by June 30, 2024 and construction starting this year.

Additionally, there are plans to progress the development of the 271MW Luapula hydropower project on the Luapula River.

“We shall continue to manage the deficit through engagement of all stakeholders while ensuring that economic activities in the country have minimal interruptions through effective demand-side management measures and shifting the load away from peak demand periods,” he assured.

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