Zesco working to add 9 MW at Chishimba Falls small hydro scheme

Zesco Limited is currently seeking companies to rehabilitate and extend the 6.2-MW Chishimba Falls small hydro station in Zambia, with generating capacity to more than double.

Chishimba Fall is a 6.2-MW run-of-river facility on the Luombe River in the Northern Province of Zambia.

Zesco plans to install a new powerhouse alongside the existing A and B powerhouses. This new building will house three 5-MW horizontal Francis turbine-generator units. A new waterway and penstock will be provided for Units 2 and 3 in this C powerhouse, while the penstocks for the B powerhouse will be diverted to supply Unit 1 in C.

While this new powerhouse is being built, the A and B facilities will be retired and decommissioned, Zesco says.

Two contracts will be awarded for this work, one for civil works and one for electrical and mechanical works.

Financing for this expansion is being provided by KFW Development Bank in Germany through a US$45 million loan agreement signed in February 2016. At that time, it was reported that expanding Chishima Falls would add more than 70,000 MWh of electricity annually.

Consulting firm Multiconsult reports that this site has the potential to be considerably expanded as a result of grid interconnection and load growth in Zambia. It says other Zesco sites with similar potential are 750-KW Lunzua (could grow to 15 MW), 5-MW Musonda Falls (could grow to 10 MW) and 12-MW Lusiwasi (could grow to 91 MW through 86-MW Lusiwasi Lower and 15-MW Lusiwasi Upper). Multiconsult reports the Norplan UK team undertook detailed studies of these four sites.

In fact, the upgrade to Lunzua was completed in late 2014. Lunzua began operating in 1960.

Zesco is a vertically integrated electric utility that generates, transmits and distributes electricity in Zambia. It is a public utility, and the Government of the Republic of Zambia is the sole shareholder. Zesco has installed generating capacity of 2,337 MW, 99% of that hydro.

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