Zambia has upgraded the generation capacity of its planned Kafue Gorge hydropower plant to more than 700 MW from 600 MW after initial studies by the Chinese contractor, the minister of energy said.
According to Reuters, energy minister Kenneth Konga said that although the final designs of the $1.5bn Kafue Gorge Lower Project had not been completed, output was likely to be more than 600 MW. "The power station is estimated to be constructed at a capacity of between 700 and 800 MW," Konga said after touring the project site, about 120 km south of Lusaka.
Zambia, Africa's largest copper producer, signed an agreement in August this year with the China Africa Development Fund and Sino-Hydro to build the power plant.
The construction of the power plant, which was earlier planned for April next year, would now start by June 2011, after state power utility Zesco and the two Chinese firms formed a joint venture company. Sino-Hydro chief representative in Zambia Li Ming said initial geological studies had been concluded and construction of the project would be completed as planned by mid-2016.
The venture is expected to borrow the initial funding of $1bn from China and the remaining $500m would be provided by the equity partners.
Zambia generates 1800 MW, with peak power demand estimated at 1600 MW, but forecasts power demand to rise sharply in the coming years. Regular power outages, partly due to ageing equipment, has previously forced Zambia to import power from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to keep the mines running.