For the next two weekends, Malawians should brace for extended power outages as the Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) plans to switch off its Kapichira Hydro Electric Power Station to facilitate maintenance works.
The arrangement will essentially take out 129.6 megawatts (MW) from the national grid. This means, the national grid, currently at 441 MW, will remain with 311.4MW to supply the country coming from other power generation machines at Nkula, Tedzani, Wovwe as well as diesel and solar power plants.
In a statement on Wednesday, Egenco said the maintenance works will be carried out from 6am to 5pm on Saturday January 8, Sunday January 9, Saturday January 15, Sunday January 16 and Monday January 17 2022.
Reads the statement: “These repair works cannot be done while machines are in operation as they involve divers working under water at the Kapichira Power Station water reservoir. As such, Egenco will have to shut down Kapichira Power Station machines for the safety of the divers.
“In the process, Kapichira Power Station’s generation capacity of 129.6MW will not be available to the national grid. Egenco will ensure that these repair works are carried out in a manner that will not adversely affect power supply to Escom.”
However, Egenco has assured that during the period that the maintenance works will be underway, its power generation machines at Nkula, Tedzani, Wovwe and diesel power plants will be in full operation.
“Egenco wishes to further emphasise that these works are very crucial for the successful and safe operation of the Kapichira Power Station,” the statement further reads.
Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) public relations manager Innocent Chitosi, in a written response said they are aware of the challenges that Egenco is anticipating.
He said: “We weighed a number of options on how to serve our customers and shall ensure that the available power shared equitably to all our customers. We shall communicate our plans to our customers in time for their planning purposes.”Malawi is slowly diversifying to solar to wean the country from its total dependence on hydro power electricity.
In November 2021, President Lazarus Chakwera commissioned a 60MW JCM Power solar-powered plant in Salima.
However, the President lamented that bureaucratic tendencies by some public officials is frustrating energy projects.
Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) last year said due to the progress Malawi is making, the projects should be connected to the national grid within a year.
The country’s current electricity demand is projected at about 800MW, with Egenco’s total installed generation capacity standing at 441.95MW, creating a deficit of about 358MW.
Currently, hydropower is the main source of electricity in Malawi, generating nearly 90 percent of the power.
Hydro power plants generate 390.55MW while 51.4MW is from thermal power plants.