The Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) has said it is spending about K80 million every month to generate power on Likoma and Chizumulu islands, prompting the company to explore solar energy generation.
Egenco spokesperson Moses Gwaza said in an interview yesterday that the company, which raises K5.2 million a month from diesel-powered generators, will be installing 1.5 megawatts (MW) of solar power on the two islands to reduce generation losses as well as improve power supply.
He said currently, power on the two islands is generated using diesel generators, but is not available 24 hours despite the cost of running generators being high.
Faced by an acute shortage of power last year, authorities opted for diesel-powered generators as a short-term measure to address power woes, which have hit the country hard, affecting industrial output.
Meanwhile, the country is producing 71MW from diesel-powered generators to complement hydro-electric power which is affected by low water levels in Shire River, necessitating rationing
of power to between 230MW and 250MW against the installed capacity of 351MW.
But Gwaza said in the current scenario, Egenco is not able to recover the cost of producing electricity on the two islands and is operating at a loss.
He said: “The amount of money that is being spent in generating power is high compared to the money that we are collecting as revenue from electricity produced on the island.
“We are spending K80 million a month to generate electricity on Likoma and Chizumulu islands but we are only recovering K5.2 million a month.”
But Gwaza said even after the solar project is in place, the power generation will continue to be on the higher side, but running at reduced costs.
The installation of the solar power plant will ensure that households and businesses on the two islands have power 24 hours and a reduction in the cost of fuel spent to generate electricity.
Egenco plans to be generating one megawatts on Likoma Island and 500 kilowatts on Chizumulu Island.
Currently, the electricity generation company is procuring a contractor to install solar equipment.
The tenders for the projects were already published in both local and international media and five companies were shortlisted to submit financial and technical proposals, according to Gwaza.
Energy consultant Grain Malunga, who is also former minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, said cheaper alternative power generation sources are ideal in the present situation, saying this would enable Egenco to save and invest in other power generation projects.