With China no longer funding coal, ZESA has ‘no plan’ for fixing its idle thermal plants

Out of commission: the iconic Bulawayo thermal power plant

Zimbabwe’s plan to refurbish two idled coal-fired power stations has been thrown into disarray by China’s decision to ban investment in plants burning the dirtiest fossil fuel outside its borders. 

Zimbabwe was depending on China to help get the Bulawayo Power Station, which has a design capacity of 90 megawatts, and Munyati Power Station, meant to generate 100 megawatts, to produce electricity to fill a chronic shortfall.

“There is no funding for coal plants,” Sydney Gata, the chairman of Zesa Holdings said in an interview. “We don’t have a plan yet,” adding that while he has been in communication with the potential investors, the decision was made at a national level.

China’s decision last year has hit a number of other coal projects globally. The Asian nation’s biggest lender, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China last year dropped a plan to fund a US$3 billion coal mine and power-plant complex in Zimbabwe, which was being developed by RioEnergy, a unit of RioZim.

The Bulawayo and Munyati plants were built between 1946 and 1957. 

Zimbabwe has an installed capacity to produce 2,100 megawatts but generates an average 1,200 megawatts to 1,300 megawatts. When possible, it meets the shortfall through imports.