Long way to 1,000 megawatts mark
Malawi aspires to increase electricity generation capacity to 1,000 megawatts by 2025 but it staggers to have both the State-owned Energy Generation Company and independent power producers add substantial amounts of power to the national grid. By the time the ambitious plan to grow energy generation capacity was outlined last year, Malawi faced a 358 mw…
Malawi aspires to increase electricity generation capacity to 1,000 megawatts (mw) by 2025 but it staggers to have both the State-owned Energy Generation Company (Egenco) and independent power producers (IPPs) add substantial amounts of power to the national grid.
The sector has been no stranger to challenges.
By the time the ambitious plan to grow energy generation capacity was outlined last year, Malawi faced a 358mw power generation deficit as demand was projected at about 800mw against a total installed generation capacity of about 441.95mw.
Of 15 projects underpinned to the dream of growing Malawi’s electricity generation capacity, only three have materialised. They have added a meager 99mw to the national grid.
The three projects include the 60mw Salima Solar Project, the 20mw Golomoti Solar Project and the 19mw Tedzani Hydro Power Project.
This means that about 901mw have to be generated if Malawi were to meet the target within the next two years.
On May 26 2021, President Lazarus Chakwera faced Parliament for a question and answer session.
The second question he addressed came from Ntcheu Central Constituency Member of Parliament Albert Mbawala who wanted to know the strategies the government had put in place to increase power generation as energy was named an accelerator to creation of jobs and food security in the next four years.
Chakwera said his administration would add no less than 1,000mw of electricity to the grid.
Apart from the three projects that have materialised, Chakwera mentioned the 300mw Kam’mwamba coal project, the 100mw natural gas project, 100mw Rukuru coal project, 70mw Salima gas project, 50mw Malawi-Mozambique interconnector, 50mw Malawi-Zambia interconnector, 50mw Mzimba wind project, 50mw Bwengu sola project, 21mw Nkhotakota solar project, 20mw monkey-bay solar project, 20mw Kanengo solar project and the 10mw garbage waste energy project.
“Nine of these projects are due for completion this year (2021) while the rest are due for completion between 2023 and 2025. Additionally, my administration is in discussions with some investors who have shown keen interest in the energy sector and if these opportunities materialise, as I am hoping, then we may be on course to doubling the power generation capacity of our country beyond the 1000mw target.
“These are all projects that will enable us to finally break free of perennial blackouts and our dependence on emergency power generators,” Chakwera told Parliament.
Following through the projects, one gets the impression that there is stagnation as most are even failing to commence.
In a response to an emailed questionnaire, Egenco spokesperson Moses Gwaza said the state-run energy generation company has registered progress on some of the projects under its scope.
“We have completed feasibility studies for the 300mw Kamwamba coal-fired plant; we are now looking for financing to start construction. We have also finalised a feasibility study to double the capacity of Wovwe hydropower we are currently looking for financing to start construction.
“We have finalised the feasibility study for the initial 10mw Salima solar plant in Salima. The contractor is ready to start and is only waiting for our initial payment for him to be on the ground. The resources are there, we are working with the authorities to identify forex to effect the payment so that manufacturing of materials, and subsequent shipping of the same can take place. Land enough for 50mw was already acquired with all compensations properly paid,” Gwaza said.
Information available on Egenco’s website indicates that the company has an installed capacity of 441.55mw but the available capacity is 385.25mw.
In a separate interview, Escom spokesperson Peter Kanjere said there are a number of projects expected to be completed before 2025.
“There are around 50 power producers that have been lined up with a potential generation capacity of 3300mw. The current total installed capacity is 548mw and we are expecting an additional 120mw from the Mozambique-Malawi Interconnector early next year. The balance will come from a pool of potential IPPs that we are engaging, especially those that can deliver power within the shortest period,” Kanjere said.
Renewable Energy Industries Association of Malawi President Sausten Chigalu said progress is slow.
He said the government must expedite processes to engage with credible IPPs and conclude power purchase agreements.
“We challenge the government to rethink its plans of attracting gas and coal fired power plants. These will have negative social, economic and environmental impact and a drain of foreign exchange to import fossil fuels like coal and petroleum gas.
“The government must act swiftly to diversify the reliance on power generation from the Shire River to other rivers like Bua, South and North Rukuru, Songwe, Ruo. In addition , the government should attract investments from wind, solar and geothermal power generation IPPs. Diversified and local renewable energy sources are a pathway to Malawi’s energy sustainability, sufficiency and security towards achieving the MW2063 agenda,” Chigalu said.
Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola asked for more time before he could comment on the matter.