PRESS RELEASE Demolition of Bulawayo Power Station Cooling Towers


Official Statement on the Outcry Over Planned Demolition of Cooling Towers 1 and 2 at Bulawayo Power Station

Harare, 20 June 2019- It has come to our attention that there is an outcry by the Bulawayo community over the planned demolition of two cooling towers at Bulawayo Power Station (BPS).  The thermal power plant is one of the five power stations operated by ZESA Holdings subsidiary, Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC). 

Bulawayo Power Station was built and commissioned between 1947 and 1957 with an installed capacity of 120MW.  It had 10 chain grate boilers and 5 turbo-alternators TA 1 – TA5 which required 6 cooling towers. Cooling Towers 1 and 2 were the first to be commissioned in 1947 with a design life of 40years, supporting power generation through TA1 and TA2. However these two cooling towers were decommissioned in 1989 and cooling towers 3, 4, 5 and 6 remained to support the rest of the plant.

While BPS was commissioned with a generation capacity of 120MW, a refurbishment project which was done in 1998 decommissioned 4 x 7.5MW chain grate boilers, thereby diminishing the generation capacity to 90MW. Since 1998, the station has been operating 6 boilers, three turbo-alternators (TA) and four cooling towers to support the power generation process. Over the years the power plant has deteriorated to a dependable capacity of 30MW due to obsolete machinery.  ZPC has planned a repowering project to restore the generation capacity to 90MW through replacement of the chain grate boilers with modern technology circulating fluidised bed combustion (CFBCs) boilers.

A condition survey of the cooling towers was done as part of feasibility studies for the repowering project. The objective of the Survey was to evaluate the cooling towers’ structural integrity and functionality, model the remaining life of these structures, and evaluate the reinforced concrete structures including foundations, hyperbolic shell and internal structures. The survey revealed that Cooling Towers 1 and 2 have outlived their design life and manifest advanced symptoms of deterioration including holes and cracks right through their hyperbolic shells which compromises structural and functionality integrity thus posing a safety risk. As such, the structures need to be removed to safeguard the general public, power station personnel, electricity generation equipment, buildings, functional cooling towers, and neighbouring companies.

Furthermore, the repowering project will require only 4 cooling towers, hence, the demolition of cooling towers 1 and 2 will not affect the operation and performance of the repowered plant. The upgrade also requires more space to accommodate the CFBC boilers and auxiliaries therefore demolition of cooling towers 1 and 2 will be required in order to create  the required space. In the same regard, cooling towers 3, 4, 5, and 6 will be refurbished to extend their life by 15-20years and improve efficiency and reliability in support of the new boiler technology for generation of 90MW.

While ZPC appreciates the sentimental attachment towards the iconic towers by Bulawayo residents, demolition eliminates and ameliorates the aforementioned hazards thereby ensuring continued electricity generation in a safe environment, and full restoration of the “Kontuthu Ziyathunqa” identity through refurbishment of cooling towers 3, 4, 5 and 6 which is to be done in support of the repowering project.

ZPC continues to uphold its principle of safety as is encompassed in the company’s Risk Management Policy which stipulates identifying, assessing and managing all activities and processes which may pose a risk on the environment, community, employees, contractors, plant, product and services. In the same manner ZPC is certified to Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) 18001:2007 for its renowned compliance to safety standards.

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