Hydro Power is Not Always a Solution to African Energy Needs
by PD Lawton, 17 Jan 2024
Electricity generation for both Zambia and Zimbabwe will be affected in 2024 by lower water levels of Lake Kariba , which is the region`s source of hydro-electic power.
In 2015-16 Zambia lost power capacity and the economy dropped by 40%.This was a result of prolonged regional drought which made hydropower ineffective. Nuclear energy is a far more reliable source of electricity supply particularly for southern Africa which is prone to periods of drought caused by the el Nino weather system.
“The Zambezi River Authority has reduced the annual allocation of water from Lake Kariba for electricity generation.
Zambezi River Authority Chief Executive Officer, MUNYARADZI MUNODAWAFA says in 2024, the authority has only allocated 16 billion cubic metres of water to be shared between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Mr. MUNODAWAFA has attributed the reduced allocation to the El Nino factor.
He has explained that the 2023/2024 rainfall forecast made by the Southern Africa Climate Outlook Forum has shown a high probability of normal to below normal rains in the Kariba catchment area.
Mr. MUNODAWAFA has added that the general outlook is highly influenced by the increasing occurrence of El Niño weather conditions, which are expected to negatively impact the rainfall season in Southern Africa.
He has also said the authority has advised the power utilities in Zambia and Zimbabwe to look for alternative sources of power to complement generation at Kariba Dam.
And Senior Meteorologist at the Zambia Meteorology Department, PEGGY THOLE says the El Nino phenomenon is projected to produce below normal rainfall during the 2023/2024 rain season.
Ms THOLE has told ZNBC news in an interview in Lusaka that El Nino’s impact will be felt by reduced rainfall and high temperatures in Zambia.”
In Zambia during the presidency of Edgar Lungu , steps were taken to fast track a nuclear power program under Zambia`s Atomic Agency (ZAMATOMA)
Zambia wanted nuclear energy back in 1969 but it wasn`t until 1980 that the IAEA allowed the first reseach laboratory. In 2006, the IAEA facilitated with the creation of the Cancer Diseases Hospital and Nuclear Medicine Centre.
As key to initiating the nuclear program, government started the Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology which is a vehicle for training personnel who will operate the plant and will advance Zambia in science and technology.
The design, feasibility study and approvals for the project have been concluded but as of March 2020, finances are still being arranged between Zambia and Russia.
There are 2 phases of construction, the first being the construction of a Center for Nuclear Science and Technology and the second phase will be construction of a nuclear power plant of 2,400 megawatts capacity.