You doubted them, Hwange Unit 7 now feeding electricity into national grid

Leonard Sengere Avatar

We were starting to think it was never gonna happen. We had been told that the commissioning of Hwange Unit 7 was imminent too many times before. The day finally came, the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) is proud to announce.

Unit 7 was successfully synchronised late yesterday, Monday the 20th of March. As we speak, some of you are using power from Unit 7, which must be nice. Most of us are in darkness still though, so what gives?

Why you won’t feel the difference

Unit 7 has a 300MW capacity but will not be doling that out from the get-go. They will be easing it into it. Said ZPC,

Power will be progressively fed into the grid until it reaches 300 MW

Power generation statistics say we are producing 522MW today, with 323MW coming from Hwange and 199MW from Kariba. Let that sink in, Hwange is producing more than Kariba. How the mighty have fallen.

Do remember that the national peak demand reaches 2200MW in winter. So, even if we got the full 300MW from Unit 7, we still would have a massive deficit, meaning power cuts would still be the norm.

At Hwange, we have to remember that we just added Unit 7, meaning there are 6 other units. We cannot count on Units 1-6 unfortunately, so we might as well call this new unit, ‘Unit 1.’

ZPC did not say when we can expect to be getting the full 300MW from Unit 7. Time will tell.

Unit 8 going live in October

What we have been promised is that Unit 8, the second 300MW plant will be live in October. While we may end up not meeting that deadline, we can be sure it will be commissioned before the year is up. Or maybe not, this is the ZPC we are talking about.

Whatever the case, this was US$1.4bn well spent. The two new units cost a combined US$1.4bn and one wonders where Hwange would be if the lost US$15bn had been channelled there. It might be best not to dwell on that.

So, what do you have to say for yourselves? You thought Unit 7 was a pipe dream and was never going to be commissioned. You owe ZPC an apology. Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Also read:

Hwange Unit 7 commissioning delayed again as several current Units break down, it’s ridiculous

New Hwange Unit 7 set to add 300MW to the national grid, time to embrace coal?

iPhone’s new feature charges phone slowly when the grid uses ‘dirty’ energy like Hwange coal energy


What’s your take?

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  1. dnc

    Power went off at 4AM and you are saying Unit 7 went live???

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Yep, it went live but like ZPC said, “Power will be progressively fed into the grid until it reaches 300 MW” So we aren’t getting 300MW from Unit 7 yet. And even if we were, Units 1-6 are useless and Kariba is at 1/3 capacity so we still would be getting the power cuts.

  2. Angry Zimbo

    Others we still in darkness. So what gives?

    1. Leonard Sengere

      “Power will be progressively fed into the grid until it reaches 300 MW” So we aren’t getting 300MW from Unit 7 yet. And even if we were, Units 1-6 are useless and Kariba is at 1/3 capacity so we still would be getting the power cuts.

    2. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

      They are drip feeding power. So, at the moment it’s only the lights at Hwange 7 that are being powered. By end of month, they expect the sockets to be working too. By mid April, the gate lights and motors. They look forward to the reaching all corners of the country by 3 February 2030 (vanenge vachipo).

      1. Leonard Sengere

        🤣🤣🤣 At least they have lighting at Hwange now. Hwange employees will be able to charge their powerbanks at work by the end of month 😂. And if we’re being honest with ourselves we know who’s gonna be in charge in 2030.

  3. Nyasha

    Unit 7 or not no difference so what?

    1. Leonard Sengere

      We will see the difference in due time. When/if Unit 8 goes live and Kariba improves.

    2. Meya

      Kuforira chirungu kusvika pakutadza kunzwisisa article iri straight forward.

  4. Balooba Abel Charles

    This article reeks of non factual reporting. People want to see the power and use it. This article makes it seem like there is actually an improvement which isn’t necessarily true yet. Next time, maybe the journalist(?) who wrote this article could interview ZESA staff before releasing this (whatever this is). From the horse’s mouth as they say.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Did you read the article Balooba. It clearly explains why we won’t see much of a difference in our day to day at the moment. Unit 7 is not even supplying the full 300MW yet, as the ZPC quote clearly says.
      It still is a momentous occasion that Unit 7 is now live and so we had to talk about it. Even if it’s just step number one on the road to zero power cuts.
      So, pray tell, where is the non factual reporting?

    2. Casey

      The article is a breath of fresh air from all the negativity. People are quick to report on the bad, the corruption but ignore the positives. It’s not saying our electricity problems are over, just that we’ve taken a positive step chete. Let’s hold the negatives and support the initiative and hope for more. Where something negative happens, yes let’s call them out but where something positive happens, lets just praise it.

      1. Leonard Sengere

        I guess things have been so terrible for so long that we are just used to murmuring and complaining. Even when we get good news. We’re at the point where if you gave a homeless person a scone people would say, ‘but he’s gonna be hungry tomorrow so you’ve not helped at all.’

  5. Anonymous

    All those megawatts being added but no improvement on load shedding why?

  6. Norman Magoga

    All those megawatts being added to the national grid but no improvement on load shedding why?

    1. Leonard Sengere

      300MW may seem like much but remember peak demand gets to 2200MW. So, we still have a massive deficit hence why loadshedding is going to remain even when Unit 8 goes live.

      1. Patrick

        Are they not going to increase the megawatts at Kariba at some point in the next couple months because if not we are in for a tough one

        1. Leonard Sengere

          Kariba is a mess. Water levels have increased but are not back to where we need them to be. So many generators are out of service too. The hope is Kariba will ramp up generation but my fingers are not even crossed.

  7. D.K.

    Electricity is either on, or off. That is either there or not there. It does not come in drips and drabs. I hope the unit was not part funded from the elusive budget surplus. As long as no change happens to the electricity situation in the houses and factory, the synchronization and commissioning may just be a ploy to buy time. The fearful part is what will happen if the unit comes down for essential servicing in future? Will we be having the long and unpredictable synchronisation every time?

    1. Leonard Sengere

      I get what you mean. It means little to people that Unit 7 is now live if nothing has changed in their day to day. That may be but it’s still a good development that Unit 7 is now live. It cannot overcome the huge deficit we have on its own but it’s a welcome upgrade.

      I don’t think synchronization will be a thing later on. I could be wrong but I think it’s done when first commissioning only.

    2. Meya

      Electricity does come in ‘drips and drabs’ which in itself is the reason why many units of varying generation capacities can be combined to supply the total national requirement.

      Next time ukanzwa zvichinzi Munyati x Megawatts, Kariba y Megawatts, ndo ma drips acho iwawa ekuti a single unit can be ramped up from as little as 41MW up until they achieve the designed and desired 300MW. Harisi bhara iri Bamkuru 🙄

      1. Leonard Sengere

        Meya matsetsenura. That’s how it works. If we understand that, we will be able to see improvements for what they are and not expect a single 300MW unit to solve all our problems.

  8. Easy does it?!

    Saw the headline and also almost went straight to the comments say ‘bull doodoo!’ but for the first time in a while, I read the article first 😅
    Ramping up makes sense as that way, they can give the system a gentle shakedown, but the frustration remains.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Exactly. We understand why they are doing what they doing. Or even why they are celebrating the successful synchronization but we’re still frustrated. We are still in darkness.

  9. Jose

    Yes the Unit is live but don’t blow off the candle yet ……the bloody thing wants Chinese Coal which is hard to find .

    1. Leonard Sengere

      In fact we should stock up on candles. We’re still far from energy independence, even when Unit 8 goes live.

  10. D.K.

    Looks like a fully loaded ZUPCO bus will have won the race against power from Unit 7 to Bulawayo or anywhere in Zimbabwe if it left Hwange at the same time as the engineers celebrated success of commissioning at 18:25.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      🤣😂 The race is not for the swift.

  11. Dhivha

    ini ndinongoti hangu zvakare lets leave unit 1 to 6 titange kugadzira new power generation station from other sources like wind, solar etc.. 7 chero akasvika ku 300mw kwacho, its gojng to be difficult to notice change on power cuts

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Wholeheartedly agree. Let’s just decommission Units 1-6 and call it a day already. It’s wasted effort trying to make those units work. Aneta.

  12. Anonymous

    It’s not feasible to add 300mw on the go due to various factors o e being carrying capacity and overload if you switch on full throttle when demand is low you will have serous repercussions…. They are learning to adjust to the grids capacity in conjuction with demand and load shedding and it gives time for the plant to monitor any anomalies otherwise 1.4bn will go down the drain

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Yes, this is how it’s done. They can’t just run full throttle from day one.

  13. Brian Muvuti

    Word salad

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Okay, I don’t see the salad.

  14. Brinso

    No s…t!

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Brinso. That’s all you got to say.

  15. Anonymous

    I dont owe ZPC an apology they owe us an apology for the numerous false starts since November last year. I didnt this this was a pipe dream and i believed they would and can do it. But we need them to release proper timeframes. Yes in engineering things do go wrong or unexpectedly but revise timelines accordingly too. We were told Nov, then Dec then Jan then March then now they said unit 8 will be active 1month later then in this article you say in october…..ahhh kana ndimi wo.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      I was trying to wind you up. You’re right that we don’t owe them an apology. They missed deadline after deadline. It’s as if those deadlines were set by politicians and not by engineers.

  16. Glaurung The Dragon

    Zimbabwe is in dire need of new and bigger power plants, 300MW is nothing in this day and age. These half a*sed measures can only take us so far especially if the country has aspirations of developing. But hey, this is Zimbabwe maybe we can celebrate just this once since we are knee deep in the dustbin of economic ruin.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      That’s the spirit. Celebrate the small stuff cause it might be all you get in this country.

  17. HomeSchooled.

    I feel the full 300MW will only be fed into the grid towards election. Thats my view

    1. Leonard Sengere

      And I wouldn’t be surprised if that worked. I’ve learnt not to expect people to see through such political moves. If it went down like you predicted I’d only say, ‘uh, ain’t that something.’

  18. S.K

    Interesting article Leonard.
    However, the cost of building the power station, $1.4bn for 600MW got me wondering, whether ZPC should have instead focused on building a solar farm producing equivalent amount of power which appear cheaper at face value. Generally building a solar farm is said to be $1/W meaning for 600MW we would need only $600mil. At 1.4bn we would be having a 1.4GW solar farm feeding into the grid.

    Beside solar appears to have lower maintenance cost compared to Coal Thermal? Solar is also inline with the global agenda towards lowering emissions unlike Coal. Is it a case of misplaced priorities ?

    1. King

      You are spot on. That power station is expensive in construction n running costs, remember coal is not for free. Investing the 1.4bn USD in solar and wind energy would have guaranteed sustainable, clean and cheap energy in the long run.

      1. Leonard Sengere

        On paper at least. Solar can be unreliable, especially with the climate change we are expecting. Our total sunlight per day may fluctuate more wildly in the future, we just don’t know.

    2. Antonia Madimure, ..Zimbabwe

      I totally agree with you. Solar is the way to go because it’s clean energy and cheaper to install than thermal power which will be banned in the not too distant future anyway internationally considering what came out in COP27 in 2022.

      1. Leonard Sengere

        Their bans mean nothing. They effected those bans when they could rely on Russain gas but now even they are powering up their coal plants. Solar cannot be depended upon in that way even here in Zimbabwe where we get good sunlight.

    3. Samaita

      Solar can only be used as back up power, not as a stand alkne source of power, for obvious reasons. To effectively invest in solar, we must have adequate hydro/thermal power capable of running 24/7. When demand for power rises beyond consumption or when a thermal unit is down, the solar power comes in to close the gap. Meanwhile, the consumer has power 24/7.

      1. Leonard Sengere

        This sounds true to me. Solar is a good backup, and that’s it. Anything beyond that is just a bonus.

    4. Anonymous

      Bro if solar is reliable then why US and China keep burning coal more than anything in the world.

      1. Leonard Sengere

        Exactly. Granted they don’t get that much sunlight in most of their countries.

    5. Leonard Sengere

      To be fair to the ZPC, they have greenlit some solar projects as well. The govt’s goal is that we generate 1,100MW from renewable energy sources by 2025. However, we are looking to Independent Power Producers to step up on this one. The govt promised them variable tariffs and guaranteed dividend and foreign loan repayments. This covers about 27 solar projects which will produce a combined 1000MW at a cost of $1bn.

      That said, your point about the govt itself embarking on solar projects instead of coal stands. The one argument would be that solar is not as reliable as coal. So maybe that’s why they went down that road.

    6. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

      Solar is great, but what do we do at night?

  19. Gwede Gwede

    Election gibrish

  20. Angry Citizen

    $1.4bn for 600MW coal stations that may never run on full capacity 😂 would have been great if they invested on renewables and megapacks.

  21. Barf!

    None of that seems to have reached Greendale and environs yet! Not unexpected though. Long powercuts persist, and I’ve increased my solar capacity here. I don’t need to throw away more food which goes off, due to zesa’s incompetence, and know the situation is NEVER going to improve! Just glad I only have 14 more days to go, before I’m out of Zimbabwe, and free of all the incompetence and stupidity which has engulfed the country!

    1. Carl Jung

      Bro, I’ve been following your comments for about two years and you keep saying soon you’ll be out of the country. Relax, you belong here. 🤣🤣🤣

      1. Isaac

        He’ll huff n puff

    2. Leonard Sengere

      I’m with Carl on this one my dear friend Barf! You have had one foot out the country for a while now. You might be doubting the decision to leave, I’d say just stay my friend. We can turn it around or at least we can have fun trying.

  22. Kudzai

    The sun shines everyday without fail! Are we saying that we are so stuck on clearly outdated tech and infrastructure that we have decided to walk into the future with the lights off?

    1. Sunny Sandy

      Projects like power plants have quick commitments (contracts and sometimes funding) and long development cycles, long enough to miss some trends and developments on the ground. That said, commercial alternative power should be opened up to the private sector (some will say it is already but is it really?), Appropriate locations should be zoned out for exclusive use, demand projections need to be remodeled and for the love of all that’s good, AU should get in gear and not let Sahara mega solar plants become an EU project where we only get the left over juice!

    2. Leonard Sengere

      Without fail? I wouldn’t go that far. The sun doesn’t shine everyday. Coal might be outdated but even Germany turned to it when Putin closed his gas taps. Let’s utilise the vast coal reserves we have. These first world countries used theirs for years while we languished in darkness.

  23. Casey

    The article is a breath of fresh air from all the negativity. People are quick to report on the bad, the corruption but ignore the positives. It’s not saying our electricity problems are over, just that we’ve taken a positive step chete. Let’s hold the negatives and support the initiative and hope for more. Where something negative happens, yes let’s call them out but where something positive happens, lets just praise it.

  24. Isaac

    The best part is ndopaarikutobaya zvekudaro mamgwana 2 am

    1. Leonard Sengere

      😂😂 Arikuenda kwete zvekutamba with the Unit 7 online.

  25. Anonymous


    I think we should really go for the Solar solution though as some have noted it is not maybe the best given that weather does impact it. For me the more alarming factor is it is at its best around 18 and 28% efficient if what l read is true, it seems the limitation is the material. So in other words per unit of power produced about 70% or so is least and this is clearly not efficient.

    However, technology keeps getting better, there was a combined study by a Norwegian/Chinese universities (could be wrong on Norway, but one of the Nordic states). They say they can now produce power from panels even if there is no sun or was that poor sunshine. So this in a way counters the talk of solar not being useful on cloudy or rainy days, the issue is how efficient would it be in any case given that it is already at a low level like 20%.

    The second issue is once installed you need to have batteries in place and there are various technologies, however lithim is by far the best and therefore this should be explored. Coincidentally it just so happens Z has the 2nd largest reserves if they do not already belong to foreigners. So essentially it is doable. Given the fact that Harare, at least gets > 300 days of sunshine, then it shows solar is a very viable solution. Not so sure about Gweru, the Eastern Highlands or so, the trick would be to situate the solar stations where there is no need for the land and it gets the most sunshine. l am thinking a semi desert environment like near the Botswana border or wherever it may be found.

    Solar seems at least commercially viable, Schweppes went that route by installing one set up which though has no batteries has significantly reduced their dependence on the grid, l have forgotten the specific numbers but it was in the region of about 40% or so. Imagine when and if they install batteries how much more useful their installation becomes.

    Anyway as Germany and even Japan have showed us, it is wise to have a basket of power options. Be it coal, solar, wind assuming it works here or even geothermal if we have such type of features here. All of them should be explored.

    Sometimes in life you have to have a laugh to not lose your sanity. l have sometimes visited a small city, in a certain country, where one of its power stations produces about 1 500MW. This small semi rural city has about 4 of these things so everytime when l see that l am like 2 of those could safely power the whole country. The city does have some seriously heavy industries, so that explains the need. However, it still looks to me as shortsightnedness on SADC as a whole that such things are allowed to occur.

    Hopefully such oversights become a thing of the past in due time.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      I love this. Yes, there are ways of improving the efficiency of solar and there is some promising research on that. Even so, it will be a while before we talk about harnessing over 50% of the sunlight we get. It doesn’t matter though. As long as we get enough power and as long it’s cheap when compared to the alternatives we can still embark on solar projects.

      Desert areas may not be the best locations though. We recently talked about floating solar panels and there we talked about how the sweet spot for solar panels is 15-35°C. Above that and the already poor efficiency of solar panels falls by as much as 25%.

      Your are right about solar being commercially viable and indeed plans are underway to allow the private sector to adopt solar. There are 27 solar projects underway which cost a combined $1bn. We will see many more companies rely less on the national grid.

      You hit the nail on the head when you talked about ‘a basket of power options.’ That’s what we need and in that basket coal has a place. We saw how the Germans were able to turn back to the old dirty fossil fuel when Russian gas taps were closed. In Zimbabwe we need all of it, solar, wind, coal, nuclear if possible, hydro and whatever else is out there.

      It really is embarrassing that we can’t meet a national demand of 1700MW-2200MW.

  26. bharat chauhan

    You said today 522mw , is that inclusive of the 300 mw from unit 7 or exclusive meaning we are producing this and 300mw to be added slowly …

    1. Leonard Sengere

      522MW is what we were producing yesterday, the 21st of March. Today we are down to 361MW and Hwange as a whole is producing 161MW. And yes, it is inclusive of what we are getting from the new Unit 7. Meaning they really meant it when they said they will be slowly ramping it up. Whatever Units 1-6 are producing PLUS whatever little we are allowing from Unit 7 = 161MW.

  27. Extroverted Introvert

    How about nuclear energy? Most western countries use that ko zim haizvikwanise here

    1. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

      We can barely dispose of regular waste, what will we do with nuclear waste? It also requires tons of water, wherever they decide to build one.

    2. The Empress

      Aya…. The love for prestige projects rears it’s ugly head again!

    3. Leonard Sengere

      Tinofa amana. No nuclear please. Hatizvikwanise. We’ll be forced to relocate when those reactors are run down and mismanaged. It will be Chernobyl, only worse.

  28. Appalled Citizen

    Unit 7 went live, whatever power problem became worse this week as we are now only getting 6 hours per pay after 10 pm that is. I now wonder whether unit 7 went live to give up more power or take from us. Zesa is thrash.

  29. Cyber Ghost

    I usually agree with you Leonard but not this time,Full Use of coal in this day and age seriously?I know that we are still a long way from Total reliance on sustainable use of other “cleaner” sources of energy,but let’s call a spade a spade, Coal is not really sustainable in these current days, that’s an undisputable fact(I’m sure you’ve heard if shortages and logistical nightmares of procuring and actually getting the coal to run a power plant)So yes it’s a hard fact that we are gonna use “ol dirty coal” for quite some time and I totally know the reason why,but let’s try to fix the attitude that”First world countries developed using caol so we too need to deplete our own”

    1. Leonard Sengere

      My stance on coal is that we should not rush to move away from it if it can be useful to us. I’m not in the least bit concerned about the world shaking their heads at that.

      We need to build this economy of ours and these power cuts are seriously compromising that effort. Zimbabwe could cut coal use completely but that would not make a dent on pollution etc.

      So, we need to allow ourselves to use this fossil just like some in the 1st and 2nd world used and still use (remember Germany fired up those coal plants when Russia closed its gas taps). They had a pressing need and coal was there. So it should be for us until we have better, cleaner options.

      So, yes, in this day and age I still advocate the use of coal in Zimbabwe. The benefits of reliable electricity outweigh the drawbacks in my book. It’s documented how access to electricity and the internet lifts communities from poverty. I want that for the whole of Zimbabwe.

      I am under no illusion though that coal’s day in the sun came and went. It’s not good for the planet and the world is moving from it. We will join them in that in due time.

  30. The Empress

    So at my place I have had no power cuts for the past 2 days but I’m not happy! Why?
    Because there’s been a water cut for the past 7 days because ZESA in it’s wisdom decided to cut electricity to pumps from the dams!

    1. Leonard Sengere

      So they decided to starve service providers to serve you? 🤣 Now you can’t get some critical service but at least you can scold them on Twitter.
      So, those are the options huh? Water OR electricity? What a country.

  31. since99

    two things i like about this website is that you post good reads which are eye opening and 2nd the comment section is full off educated opinions and vanhu vanonyombana zvakachenjera. zvakanaka kuva pano😊