Situated in the North Western part of Zimbabwe, Hwange Power Station is the largest coal-fired power station with 920MW installed capacity which comprises of 4x120MW and 2x220 MW units. It is the 14th largest thermal station in the Southern African region and is adjacent to Wankie Colliery Open Cast Mine. The station was built in two stages. The 4 x 120MW units were commissioned between 1983 and 1986 and the 2 x 220MW were commissioned in 1986 and 1987. All six units are available and the station currently generates about 40% percent of the country’s electricity needs.
Coal is delivered to the station by an overland conveyor belt which is 6 km long from Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) as well as by trucks from Makomo and Coalbrick mines. Water which is piped 44 kilometers from the Zambezi River is pumped into two 150,000 m3 reservoirs next to the station and conveyed by gravity to its point of use.
Hwange Power station operates as a base load station, with its availability averaging 80% and a plant load factor of 65%. The station designs largely represent technologies of the late 1960s and some of the equipment such as the boiler controls has had to be replaced with modern digital process controls.
Management of Hwange Power Station was transferred from ZESA to ZPC in January 2001 – the first station to be a part of the electricity sector’s restructuring exercise. As part of this exercise, work practices have been reviewed and staff training course introduced. Also to enhance operational efficiencies and to train employees, ZPC engaged a consultant for this purpose and is conducting on the job training as well as external training. This has led to a more commercial mind-set among employees and has in turn increased output from the station.
The almost 700 staff members are housed by the station and they also have access to three clinics, pre-schools, two primary schools and a secondary school, a well as a beer hall, a social club and sports facilities for the workforce and its dependents.